55 Years Ago Today Roger Maris Hit His 59th Home Run Putting Him One Behind Babe Ruth
In the pre-steroid era of baseball, Roger Maris had one magical season. Shown above, Maris connects for his 59th home run of the season on September 20, 1961.
Maris would hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60.
Yet Maris’s accomplishment wasn’t considered an “official” record. That is because Ford Frick, the former sportswriter and then Commissioner of baseball, ruled that Maris had to beat Babe Ruth in the same number of games that the Babe was eligible to play in 1927, which was 154.
If Maris did not hit 60 by his 154th game the record would be denoted with an asterisk, indicating that Maris had more opportunities (163) than Ruth did.
The news caption for this photo reads:
Baltimore, Sept 20 – Homer No. 59 For Maris – Roger Maris of the New York Yankees swings into the ball in the third inning tonight as he connects for his 59th home run of the season. The blow came against Baltimore Orioles pitcher Milt Pappas. If Maris can add one more during the game he will equal Babe Ruth’s official 1927 record of 60 in 154 games. He has hit two homers in one game seven times this season. The ball is just a streak as it flies off the bat, right. (AP wirephoto)
How They Squeezed 45,400 Fans Into Boston’s Fenway Park
There’s only one way to get 45,000 people into Boston’s Fenway Park and that is to let the fans sit everywhere, including the outfield.
Yes that’s right, square on the field of play.
Boston’s owner Tom Yawkey never spared expenses when it came to his beloved Red Sox. After the 1933 season during the height of the Great Depression, Yawkey decided to update Fenway Park.
The biggest changes would be the new outfield stands in center and right field. And of course the new 37 foot tall left field wall which would eventually become known as the Green Monster.
During the renovation on January 5, 1934, a large fire destroyed the bleachers and the outfield walls which had wood, oil and debris stored under them.
After the clean-up, work was quickly resumed and the new outfield stands were made fireproof, being encased in reinforced concrete. The new electronic scoreboard indicating balls, strikes and outs was an innovation. The feature known as Duffy’s Cliff, a hill in left field, was removed, leaving only a small incline.
Mickey Mantle at bat as Yogi Berra waits on deck World Series Game 7 October 10, 1956 – photo: Ed Stein
The Yankee Hit Parade
Ebbets Field, N.Y. – This unusual photo of Mickey Mantle at bat and Yogi Berra (8), Yankee catcher on deck waiting for his turn with the lumber, typifies both hopes and fears of this series. Taken in the eighth inning of today’s final game, it shows Dodger catcher Roy Campanella ready to receive and plate umpire Dusty Boggess ready to call. In the background is the crowd as poised as Mickey himself. Mickey hit three homers in the series, though he only got out one hit out of four at bats in today’s game. Berra was one of today’s heroes for the bombers. He hit a pair of two-run homers and got a grand-slam homer in a previous game in the series. Yanks shut out the Dodgers 9-0, for the game and the series. 10-10-56 photo by Ed Stein
The year 1955 witnessed the end of the Brooklyn rallying cry of “wait until next year” when they finally defeated the New York Yankees in an exciting seven game World Series, highlighted by Johnny Podres’ stellar pitching for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers hoped to repeat as champions and even forced a seventh game at their home ballpark at Ebbets Field.
But it was not to be.
After having a perfect game pitched against them by Don Larsen at Yankee Stadium in game five, the Dodgers went back to Ebbets Field down three games to two to the Yankees. Continue reading →
The New York Yankees Are About To Become The First American League Team To Win 10,000 Games
You can love ’em or hate them, but the record speaks for itself. While seven National League franchises have attained 10,000 career wins, the New York Yankees will reach that mark sometime in September, becoming the first American League team to do so. They currently have 9,971 wins. (All statistics as of August 2, 2015.)
No other American League team is close to hitting this number. It will probably take another eight or nine years for another A.L. team to get there because the Boston Red Sox are second in A.L. career victories with 9,193.
Following Boston, the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers are neck and neck with 9,064 and 9,061 wins respectively.
Bear in mind that some of National League teams have been around since 1876 so N.L. teams had a bit of a head start in reaching 10,000 wins. There is also futility for some teams. Realize the Philadelphia Phillies who came into existence in 1883 have still not won 10,000 games (total wins 9,505).
The franchise with the most wins all-time are the San Francisco Giants, Continue reading →
A Dying Babe Ruth In Memorial Hospital July 29, 1948
New York – Babe’s Most Recent Picture – This picture, taken at Memorial Hospital here July 29, is believed to be the last picture of the baseball idol. It was made just before the Babe’s most recent relapse. With him is Steve Broidy of Allied Artists movie studio, who is presenting Ruth with a check for the Ruth Foundation for underprivileged children. The homerun king’s condition today was critical. photo – AP, August 11, 1948
Babe Ruth June 13, 1948 in Yankee locker room
On June 13, 1948 just six weeks prior to the above photograph being taken, Ruth made his final appearance at Yankee Stadium and put on his old uniform for the last time as his number three was retired by the Yankees. After the ceremony the uniform would be shipped off to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The day was hailed as Silver Anniversary Day at Yankee Stadium officially marking the 25th anniversary of “The House That Ruth Built.” Sixteen members of the 1923 Yankees came to the ceremony and even participated in a two inning old-timers game against a team of Yankee all-stars from other years. But everyone was there to see the man himself, Babe Ruth.
Friends and old teammates lined up and approached Babe before the ceremony and he obligingly signed autographs for everyone. After others had spoken, Ruth emerged from the dugout to a huge ovation and made a short speech in a raspy voice telling the crowd how happy he was to be present, how proud he was to be the first man to have hit a home run at Yankee Stadium and how glad he was to be with his old friends again.
Babe Ruth, William Bendix and a studio executive on the set of The Babe Ruth Story
Returning to the story of our original photograph, the last one of Babe Ruth, the emaciated Babe was probably happy to receive a check for the film The Babe Ruth Story, based on his life . But he could not have been pleased with the film which starred William Bendix. Continue reading →
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 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 →
Hansen didn’t need to practice his sliding – he stole only nine bases in a 15 year career, but led the Orioles in home runs in 1960 with 22 and won the Rookie of the Year Award. When he was playing for the Washington Senators, Hansen turned an unassisted triple play on July 29, 1968 against the Cleveland Indians. It was the first unassisted triple play in the major leagues in 41 years.
I love those vintage flannel uniforms the Orioles are wearing. Marv Breeding Continue reading →
A Commercial Recording Release By The Bambino and The Iron Horse
Recently I was reading an old New York Times column from October 7, 1956 by Gay Talese in which he wrote about the history of baseball records. Not home run or pitching records, but baseball related music and spoken word records.
In the article Talese mentions that one of the first record companies to release a baseball record was Pathe records in 1928 when they got Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to make a recording explaining how they hit home runs. It did not sell very well. Almost all baseball related recordings have traditionally done poorly with sales, with the exception of Take Me Out To The Ballgame written in 1908 by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth. Incredibly neither Von Tilzer or Norworth had ever attended a baseball game prior to writing their hit song.
So I searched for the Ruth – Gehrig recording on youtube and couldn’t find the exact recording mentioned in the article, but came up with this version instead. (Click on the youtube video below). Apparently it is the exact same record as in the Talese article, but Talese is mistaken about the content and the date.
After graduating college Corman was working on the fringes of advertising and with the encouragement of a friend, Herb Gardner (A Thousand Clowns; I’m Not Rappaport; etc), he took a stab at writing a book. That effort was published as Oh God! A Novel (1971). After that hurdle Corman never looked back and he became a full-time novelist. Oh God! was eventually made into a very popular movie in 1977 starring George Burns and John Denver.
Some of Corman’s other acclaimed novels include The Bust-Out King (1977), The Old Neighborhood (1980); 50 (1987); Prized Possessions (1991); The Boyfriend from Hell (2006) and his most famous work, Kramer vs. Kramer (1977) which was adapted into a movie in 1979 and was the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Avery Corman’s success must partially stem from his middle-class upbringing in the Fordham section of the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s, where he admits he was not the best student when it came to math and science, but did well in the humanities and was surrounded by a loving, extended family.
My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir is more a series of vignettes rather than a straight autobiography and that style comes off well. Corman shares his memories of childhood during World War II up until he becomes a successful author in the late 1960’s. He paints beautiful word pictures, sometimes tinged with sadness, of growing up in a wondrous place that no longer exists. Most of the stories offer short bursts of family life, games, food, education, sports and all the things that contributed to making the Bronx a special place to grow up in.
Corman’s stories resonate with a tender glow of friendships, family and the feeling that neighborhoods were once really neighborhoods, where the familiarity of rituals, people and places were ingrained in the surroundings.
Here are parts one and two of an exclusive interview with Avery Corman.
Part I, Avery Corman talks about what made the Bronx a special place during the war. His unique living situation and school life.