Mickey Mantle’s Last Game At Yankee Stadium

Unlike Mariano 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.

It had been speculated that Mantle was considering retiring after the 1968 season but no one knew for sure what Mantle was going to do, not even Mickey. He was no longer playing the outfield, as age had slowed his already hobbled legs down to the point that first base was the only position he could still play.  Mantle came into the game batting just .238.

I loved Mickey and cheered mightily when in the first inning he singled. The next two times however Mantle struck out. And his final time up he walked. The worst part about the game was that the Yankees were blanked 3-0 on a one-hitter by Indians starter Luis Tiant who won his 21st game of the year.

Yes, that lone single by Mantle prevented the Yankees from having a no-hitter thrown against them.

So no one in the sparse crowd of 5,723 knew that it was going to be Mickey Mantle’s last game at Yankee Stadium, so there were no goodbyes that day.

But at the conclusion of the game, something happened that I will never forget. As I described in my previous story about the original Yankee Stadium the fans leaving the stadium were allowed to exit the Stadium by walking on to the field!

When the game concluded we had moved our seats right down the third base line. So we were among the first people on the field. And as we walked out on to this glorious huge green field with the other few fans, the Indians pitchers who were hanging out in the bullpen, all started walking by us. To a small child like myself all the players seemed huge. But none were bigger than the man walking towards us with his head down.

As six foot five “Sudden” Sam McDowell walked by my father said, “Hi’ya Sam!” McDowell stopped, glared at my father for the impertinence of his greeting and looked like he might punch my dad out. But McDowell glanced to my father’s side saw me standing there in awe and smiling. McDowell then looked at me and said, “hiya kid.” and marched off to the dugout and disappeared into the clubhouse.

I was ecstatic. A ballplayer had spoken to me!

Getting back to Mickey Mantle, he appeared in a game for the last time on September 28, 1968 at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. He popped out in the first inning and was replaced at first base by Andy Kosco in the bottom of the first. The 36-year-old Mantle had played his final game.

On March 1, 1969 Mickey Mantle refused a $100,000 contract saying he could no longer hit and retired from baseball. Later that year on June 8, 1969 the Yankees and their fans honored Mickey properly, as the stadium was filled with adoring fans and his number seven uniform was retired and he was given a plaque that was hung in center field at Yankee Stadium. After Mantle’s death in 1995, a monument of Mantle replaced the plaque. The monument can be seen in Monument Park at the new Yankee Stadium. Mantle’s original plaque is now on display at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center.

11 thoughts on “Mickey Mantle’s Last Game At Yankee Stadium

  1. Steven Lewis

    I was listening to Bill Stern’s 5-minute daily sports commentary over Mutual Radio a couple days following the end of the ’68 season. Stern described Mantle’s last at bat, but he said that Mickey struck out instead of popped out. He concluded by saying that it would be Mickey Mantle’s last at-bat in the Major Leagues. At least he got the last part correct. I recall that Mantle didn’t announce his retirement until the start of spring training the following year. In the interim the American League had expanded, adding two new teams — Kansas City and Seattle. During the off-season the league held an expansion draft. Each team was allowed to protect only some of their players. The Yankees did not protect Mantle but left him open to be drafted. But I recall that Mantle announced publicly that he would retire if one of the expansion teams selected him. I suspect he planned to retire at the end of the ’68 season, but to help the Yankees sell season tickets waited until the last minute to make it public. Despite Mickey’s anemic batting average his last season, his 18 home runs was tops on the hapless Yankees that year.

  2. glenn sorge

    I was there… After the game I gathered a couple handfuls of dirt around first base, where Mantle played. Still have it today ….
    His base hit was to right center. In his younger years he would have been standing at second base.

    Thanks for writing about this…..

  3. david wolfe

    I have always been a Cleveland Indians fan and a great admirer of Mickey Mantle. After a night game in Cleveland, Mickey and Billy Martin were leaving the stadium and walking to a private car instead of the team bus. I ran to them to ask for an autograph. I was about 12 at the time. They both cursed, and told be go away. I think they may have been drinking in the clubhouse. From that moment I lost all respect for the both of them.

  4. Pingback: 1968: Mantle hit # 536, his last HR | TALK & OPINIONS BY SILVIO CANTO JR.

  5. Patty

    I was just watching the replay of Derek’s last game in YS on 9/25/14. During the game Michael Kay said it was also Mickey Mantle’s last game in the old YS. So I went searching and found your article. I found it so touching. I wasn’t born until 1952, but grew up in luv with Mickey and thought I was going to die when he retired. Many years later I finally found a Yankee that measured up to his standards and I started following Derek finding my second Yankee luv. In reading your article I realized that they played their last game in YS and also in Bston on the same day, just 46 years apart. And Bob Sheppard announced them at both of their first and last games. What a history.
    Thanks for posting this !!!

    1. B.P. Post author

      Thanks for writing Patty. You got me thinking: besides Mickey who were my favorite Yankees? Probably Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss & Ron Blomberg. My favorites basically ended with the 1970s. While I admired Jeter’s class, playing and hustle, I have a hard time in general relating to today’s multi-millionaire businessmen who happen to play baseball. That’s not a criticism of Jeter – just the state of affairs baseball has become. P.S. – No announcer was or ever will be like Bob Sheppard.

  6. Gary David

    Hi, came across your site while searching for Mickey Mantle info to give to my uncle, who is 84 and still a baseball nut. I was at Mantle’s last game in Fenway Park on Sep 28, 1968. I was sitting right behind home plate with my wife and another couple. Our seats were very likely Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seats as his brother, Robert, had just been assassinated in June Three or 4 rows back from the screen and over the catcher’s right shoulder. I was taking a couple from Maine who had never been to a major league baseball game and my father-in-law promised he’d get us some great seats, winking, saying he knows someone. He was close friends with a local Senator, Mr. Rurack, and he got them for my father-in-law. When he handed them to me he only said “You’ll love these”!
    Back to Mantle, it happened real fast as we were trying to get settled in our seats. After the first batter the screen was becoming a problem seeing through it. Next we know Mantle’s coming up and I’m the only one getting all flustered. he hit’s a popup to Petrocelli and I’m watching Mantle trying to run to first. He got about half way and came back across to the dugout. At that moment I sensed he was done as he was hobbling a little. When he was replaced at 1st base I just knew it. It was a real sad moment and I never save the stubs from that game. It wasn’t till 5-7 years ago that I finally appreciated what I witnessed, and how I witnessed it. I only remembered that I thought it could’ve been his last game and I never gave it a thought as to how I got the seats I did. I’ve since informed the friend I went with as he thought I was “out in left field” on all that happened. He now believes me, 48 years in a month!
    Now I’m trying to put together something for my uncle who doesn’t know what I’ve witnessed. Hopefully I can find some decent photos of Mantle on that day at Fenway. Nite site, have a great day!

    1. B.P. Post author

      Hi Gary
      Thanks for sharing your story here; it’s always very interesting to read a first-person, previously unpublished account of an historic moment. Best of luck finding some photos of that day at Fenway.

  7. Ross Lewis

    Please contact me via my email. I am a former professional photographer (also was special-assignment photographer of NFL between 1972-1984).

    In 1974, I was given written document permission from the City of NY to photograph the complete demolition and rebirth of YS (1973-76)….total of 13,000 photos.

    There are a couple of your photos here which interest me. Looking forward to meeting you. Thank You.

  8. Steven Waldman

    Your photo is wrong, This was taken on May 30th 1967, and the gentleman is the background is Whitey Ford who is announcing his retirement, Mickey looking on would have his day on June 8 1969, he would be dressed in a suit

    1. B.P. Post author

      Hi Steven
      Thank you very much for taking the time to send in the correction. The caption will be adjusted accordingly.


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