Tag Archives: Mickey Mantle

The Strikeout: The Rise and Acceptance of Baseball’s Unproductive Out

Hitters Didn’t Used To Strikeout Like This

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

We are not even at the end of June and yesterday I read that the Astros Chris Carter had struck out 102 times so far this season. Carter is batting .198 with 13 home runs. The Astros as a team have struck out 728 times.

Those statistics are appalling and yet no one in baseball circles talks about it. Had they been playing thirty or more years ago players like Chris Carter, Mark Reynolds and the recently retired Adam Dunn most likely would not have been on a major league roster. Hitting thirty or more home runs, and batting .220 or under and striking out around one third of your plate appearances would have insured that you would not be around the big leagues very long.

But those days are over. Apparently there is no shame in striking out consistently if you can hit a few homers. Many teams apparently covet these one dimensional players and give them big contracts if they can hit some dingers.

The 1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers from left to right Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg and Marv Owen. They combined for 173 strikeouts.

1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers (l to r) Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg & Marv Owen. They combined for 173 of the team’s 453 strikeouts.

Contrast today’s strikeout numbers with baseball’s glory days and the statistics are startling. For instance, the 1935 Detroit Tigers hitters had 453 strikeouts in total.

Almost every starting player on the team had more walks than strikeouts.

Even the Tigers pitchers only struck out a combined 84 times in 549 plate appearances.

Tigers 1935 stats via baseball-reference.com Hank Greenberg led the team with 91 strikeouts, while hitting 36 home runs and driving in an astounding 168 runs. Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane batted .319 and struck out a total of only 15 times. Continue reading

Mickey Mantle In Glorious Kodachrome Color Photos

25 Color Photographs of Mickey Mantle In The 1950’s & 60’s

Mickey Mantle portrait 1956 photo Marvin Newman

Mickey Mantle portrait 1956. photo: Marvin Newman

The name Mickey Mantle still evokes strong emotions for baseball fans of a certain age.

For if you ever saw Mickey Mantle play, you would never forget it. If you never had the pleasure, I’ll try and describe it.

Mickey Mantle powerful swing photo Marvin Newman

Mickey Mantle’s powerful swing. photo: Marvin Newman

Mantle swung the bat literally as hard as anyone who ever played the game. You would see his forearms and biceps bulge as he whipped the bat through the strike zone on a slight incline. Watching Mantle swing you could literally see that every muscle in his six foot frame was converging to pulverize the baseball.

When Mantle connected cleanly with the ball, the sound was unique. There was a sharp crack that resonated through the entire ballpark and that ferocious swing would drive countless baseballs deep into the gaps or frequently farther, with balls settling in the outfield stands or bleachers for a home run. There was no home run, like a Mickey Mantle home run.

Mickey Mantle stealing 2nd base and slides hard 1950s photo Marvin Newman

Mickey Mantle steals 2nd base and slides hard 1950s. photo: Marvin Newman

In his prime there were few fielders like Mickey Mantle, who could come out of seemingly nowhere to snag a drive hit in the gap, that when first hit, was thought to be uncatchable. Mantle’s arm could throw bullets, so runners had to think twice about taking an extra base or tagging up when the ball was hit to Mickey.

Mantle played hard breaking up double plays and stealing bases when necessary, even though he was playing on notoriously bad legs which would hamper his entire career. Continue reading

Minnie Minoso Remembered

Minnie Minoso – Speed, Power and Grace

White Sox outfielder Minnie Minoso scores on a short pop fly hit by Nellie Fox. Kansas City Athletics catcher Haywood Sullivan tries to apply the tag,  The White Sox won this first game of a doubleheader 5-3. (Sept 20, 1961) photo: UPI

White Sox outfielder Minnie Minoso scores on a short pop fly hit by Nellie Fox. Kansas City Athletics catcher Haywood Sullivan tries to apply the tag, The White Sox won this first game of a doubleheader 5-3. (Sept 20, 1961) photo: UPI

Months after the Chicago White Sox acquired Orestes “Minnie” Minoso in a three team trade from the Cleveland Indians in 1951, White Sox manager Paul Richards said, “Technically the deal helped everyone.

Minnie Minoso and Eddie Robinson examine Ted Williams bat

Minnie Minoso and Eddie Robinson examine Ted Williams bat

Actually we got the best of it. I wouldn’t trade Minoso for anyone in the league.”

Minnie Minoso and Castro 1958Minoso was a star in Cuba before coming over to the United States and he never forgot his Cuban roots.

Minoso was signed by Indians owner Bill Veeck after being alerted to his ability by Abe Saperstein, the Harlem Globetrotters impresario, who was always on the lookout for black baseball talent. Minoso had been with the Indians since 1949 but had only gotten into nine games in two years. By 1950 Veeck was out as Indians owner, forced to sell the team to fund his divorce. The new owners considered Minoso expendable. That decision possibly cost the Indians several pennants throughout the 1950’s.

In his rookie season in 1951 Minoso batted .326 and led the league in stolen bases with 31 and triples with 14. In his career Minoso batted over .300 in eight seasons and had one unusual statistic – he led the league in being hit by pitches ten times. Minoso ran the bases with abandon and fielded as gracefully as any player in baseball.

When he retired in 1964 Minnie Minoso’s career average was .298 and he had hit 186 home runs while driving in 1023 runs.

Bill Skowron, Minnie Minoso Nellie Fox and Mickey Mantle July 24 1957 photo: AP

Bill Skowron, Minnie Minoso Nellie Fox and Mickey Mantle July 24 1957 photo: AP

Minoso died Sunday, March 1, 2015 at a gas station in Chicago after suffering a tear in his pulmonary artery, at the age of either 90 or 92. There had always been some doubt to the Cuban star’s actual age.

Continue reading

A Close Play At The Plate In Game 3 Of The 1951 World Series

Alvin Dark Slides In Safely As Yogi Berra Drops The Ball And The Yankees Fall Apart

Giants shortstop Alvin Dark is safe at home plate as Yankees catcher Yogi Berra can't handle the ball

Giants shortstop Alvin Dark is safe at home plate as Yankees catcher Yogi Berra can’t handle the ball

NEW YORK: ERROR FOR BERRA – Giant Alvin Dark is safe at the plate as Yogi Berra drops the ball trying to tag him. Bobby Brown threw to Berra from third on Monte Irvin’s grounder in the Giants big five-run sixth inning. The National League champs made it their second victory over the Yankees in the third game of the 1951 World Series at the Polo Grounds, Oct 6, with a 6-2 score.  Credit (ACME) 10-6-51

The New York Giants had every reason to believe that this was the year they would win the World Series. They had defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers just days before in a best of three tie-breaker playoff series. On October 3, Giants fans witnessed the “Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” – Bobby Thomson’s dramatic 9th inning home run off of Ralph Branca that propelled them into the Series against the Yankees.

The World Series would be a match-up between cross-river rivals and their respective rookie stars Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle and it would end up being the finale for Joe DiMaggio’s career.

On October 6, 1951 with 52,305 fans packed into the Polo Grounds, the largest crowd ever to see a World Series game in a National League ballpark, the Giants fans were cautiously optimistic.

The series was tied at one game apiece and the Giants were holding a slim 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, when depending on how you look at it, the Giants erupted or the Yankees fell apart. Continue reading

Mickey Mantle’s Last Game At Yankee Stadium

Unlike Rivera’s Farewell, No Fanfare And Only 5,723 Fans At Yankee Stadium – September 25, 1968

June 8, 1969 - Mickey Mantle Day- Mantle gazes, as former Yankees announcer Mel Allen in the background

Mickey Mantle looks on as his longtime teammate Whitey Ford announces his retirement May 30, 1967.

With all the celebrations surrounding Mariano Rivera’s retirement and last game at Yankee Stadium, it got me thinking about Mickey Mantle’s last game at Yankee Stadium.

It was a sunny day on Wednesday, September 25, 1968 and not being able to attend school yet because I was too young, my father who worked a night shift took me to Yankee Stadium to see a meaningless 2:00 pm game between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees. It was the last home game of the season for the 5th place Yankees. I vividly remember the game, but it originally wouldn’t be because it was Mickey Mantle’s last game at Yankee Stadium. Continue reading

Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle Prepare For The 1952 World Series

Martin, Mantle Prepare Series Strategy

60 years ago, the World Series started on the first day of October. This year the World Series will begin October 24!

Here is another one of these great baseball news photographs. This one is from UPI dated September 30 1952. The caption reads:

New York: New York Yankee Second Baseman Billy Martin (left), who, because of injuries caused during the recent season has caused manager Casey Stengel to makeup an emergency line-up in case he, Gene Woodling and Gil McDougald could not play in the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, shows outfielder Mickey Mantle the bat he hopes to make talk business against the NL pennant winners. Despite Stengel’s emergency measures, however, Martin, along with McDougald and Woodling said, Sept. 30, that they were fit and ready to go.  The series opens Oct. 1 in Ebbets Field, Brooklyn.

The Yankees would go on to win their fourth consecutive World Series championship, beating the Dodgers four games to three.

Yankees Spring Training 1963

Mickey Mantle Bunting

The opening of the 2012 baseball season is only weeks away. It is a time to practice skills that may be needed during the regular season.

In this photograph from 1963, Mickey Mantle is attempting to bunt against the Cincinnati Reds in a spring training game. Mantle would bunt frequently during the early years of his career, many times to try and beat it out. But as his knees went through wear and tear, he would rarely attempt to bunt for hits in the 1960’s. So a spring training game was a good time to get in some bunting practice.

Here he appears to miss the drag bunt as Elston Howard watches from the on-deck circle.  The Yankees lost this game 4-2.

Mickey Mantle After Retirement

3 Photographs of Yankees First Base Coach – Mickey Mantle

 

 

 

 

And Bobby Murcer gets playfully pushed away after reaching first base

Mickey Mantle announced his retirement March 1, 1969. In 1970, Mickey Mantle was an announcer on the NBC Game of the Week, but left in late August and  joined Yankee manager Ralph Houk’s coaching staff for the remainder of the season.

Mantle’s first game coaching was on August 30 against the Minnesota Twins. Bobby Murcer walked to lead off the fourth inning. When Murcer came over to talk with Mantle, who would coach first base only for the middle three innings, Mantle kiddingly pushed Murcer back to first base. The Twins first baseman is Rich Reese. The Yankees won this game 5-2. Continue reading

The Original Yankee Stadium – Photographs and Memories

A Reflection on The Late, Great Yankee Stadium With Vintage Photographs

I visited the new Yankee Stadium once in 2009 when it first opened. The feeling was a bit surreal. It was like being in Yankee Stadium, but it wasn’t. The main difference for me was the surrounding neighborhood and looking out past the right-center field bleachers and not seeing the apartment buildings and the Bronx County Court House.

The new Yankee Stadium is a glorified mall.

The old Yankee Stadium that existed from 1923 – 1973 was where the storied history of the Yankees took place. Even after the renovation of Yankee Stadium from 1974-1975 which included taking out the old wooden seats and the removal of the beams that could block your view from many of those seats, the stadium still retained some of the old charm, even though it lost a bit of its character. From 1976 -2008 the Yankees played in the same spot where Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Red Ruffing, Hank Bauer, Whitey Ford Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey saw action.

The Yankees of the last 35 years; Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, Ron Guidry, Mel Stottlemyre, Paul O’Neill, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter could look around and seep in the history of this altered palace of baseball, even if there were heavy cosmetic changes to the outside and inside of the stadium itself.

There was no more “Death Valley” Continue reading