Tag Archives: Mickey Mantle

DEC 4 IN BASEBALL HISTORY-NO MORE BONUS BABIES

DECEMBER 4, 1964 IN BASEBALL HISTORY | HOUSTON, TEXAS • It was trumpeted as the end of the “bonus baby” – throwing of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars (a lot of money in those days) at wide-eyed kids expected to become the next Mickey Mantle or Sandy Koufax. Too often these “can’t miss” prospects didn’t pan out. The owners wanted no more bonus babies.

They met in Houston on this date in 1964 to put an end to the chasing of unproven kids by hordes of scouts with wads of cash. Instead, the owners approved an amateur draft. The first one was held in 1965.

Blow are the first ten #1 picks. Some had decent careers. Most were mediocre. Some, well, have you ever head of Steve Chilcott? Chances are “no.” He never made to the big leagues. The second pick that year was Reggie Jackson.

1965 Rick Monday, Kansas City A’s
1966 Steve Chilcott, New York Mets
1967 Ron Blomberg, New York Yankees
1968 Tim Foli, New York Mets
1969 Jeff Burroughs, Washington Senators
1970 Mike Ivie, San Diego Padres
1971 Danny Goodwin, Chicago White Sox
1972 Dave Roberts, San Diego Padres
1973 David Clyde, Texas Rangers
1974 Bill Almon, San Diego Padres

There is still chasing after kids and some significant bonuses because the team that drafts the player retains the rights to signing a him only for a period of time until the next year’s draft. If a prospect is not signed he can re-enter a future draft and be chosen by any team but the one which selected him the previous year, unless the player consents.

Generally, those eligible to be drafted are:
•  Residents of the US or Canada including Puerto Rico and other territories
•  HS grads who have not yet attended college or junior college
•  College players who have completed their junior year
•  Junior college players
•  Players 21-years of age and older

While there are no more bonus babies, “free agency” has driven salaries into another stratosphere.

Sources/more information:
Complete draft information
Amateur draft rules 
United Press International, Houston, Texas, December 5, 1964

May 22 – 620-foot home run?

*1963 | NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK  –  Mickey Mantle himself thought he hit the longest home run of his career on this date in 1963. This from a man who was quite modest about his accomplishments. It was a walk-off home run in the 11th to break a 7-7 tie against the Kansas City A’s (today’s Oakland A’s).

The Baltimore Sun reported the next day that those who saw the mammoth blast are certain that the ball was rising when it hit the façade of Yankee Stadium’s roof in right field. That would be about 115 feet above the ground, 370 feet, at ground level, from home plate.

So how far did the ball travel? Or how far would it have traveled had the façade of the roof not been in the way? Many record books say the ball traveled over 600 feet. That’s more than double the distance from home plate to the right field corner. It’s the length of two football fields.

Is there a little hyperbole here? Could Mickey have been given the benefit of the exaggeration because he was likable, handsome and hit a lot of tape measure home runs?

What cannot be denied are the statistics of a guy who was a speed demon when he broke in at age 19. Look at his on-base percentage. And while Mantle was a great RBI guy, he had more runs scored.

Mickey Mantle Career Stats
Batting average: .298
On base percentage: .421
Home runs: 536
RBI: 1,509
Runs scored: 1,677

Contributing Source:
The Baltimore Sun, May 23, 1963

April 28-Frank Robinson: Among the Best Ever

1956 | CINCINNATI, OHIO – On this date in 1956 Cincinnati Redlegs rookie left fielder Frank Robinson hit his first major league home run. He would hit 585 more. The home run came in a 9-1 win over the Chicago Cubs in Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

Was Frank Robinson under appreciated? You be the judge.

He’s the only player in major league baseball history to be MVP (most valuable player) in both leagues (National League in 1961, American League in 1966).

He’s one of just 14 players in major league history to win the Triple Crown (lead the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in).

He’s a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He had a lifetime average of .294.

He drove in 1,812 runs.

He played on 3 World Series teams (Cincinnati Reds-1961, Baltimore Orioles-1966, 1970), 2 of which were winners.

Speaking of Triple Crown Winners, until Miguel Cabrera won it in 2012 there had not been a triple crown winner in 45 years.

Here are past winners:

Miguel Cabrera (Detroit-AL) 2012
Carl Yastrzemski (Boston-AL) 1967
Frank Robinson (Baltimore-AL) 1966
Mickey Mantle (New York-AL) 1956
Ted Williams (Boston-AL) 1947
Ted Williams (Boston-AL) 1942
Joe Medwick (St. Louis-NL) 1937
Lou Gehrig (New York-AL) 1934
Chuck Klein (Philadelphia) 1933
Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia-AL) 1933
Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis-NL) 1925
Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis-NL) 1922
Heinie Zimmerman (Chicago-NL) 1912
Ty Cobb (Detroit-AL) 1909
Nap Lajoie (Philadelphia-AL) 1901
Hugh Duffy (Boston-NL) 1894
Paul Hines (Providence-NL) 1878

Maybe “Frank Robinson” doesn’t roll off the tongue like Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays because he played for 5 different teams, and seemed to have a permanent scowl on his face, but his numbers are remarkable.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
Frank Robinson – Hall of Fame

April 26-ONE DOWN, SIXTY TO GO

1961 | DETROIT, MICHIGAN – On this date in 1961 New York Yankee outfielder Roger Maris began his historic chase of the most famous record in sports – Babe Ruth’s single season record of 60 home runs. In the 5th inning at Tiger Stadium with one out and nobody on, Maris hit a home run off Tiger right-hander Paul Foytack.

Maris didn’t come out of the blocks in a full sprint that memorable season. He hit one, I repeat, one home run in the month of April. Teammate Mickey Mantle already had 7 home runs by the time May rolled around.

If Maris, the shy right-fielder from Hibbing, Minnesota wanted to hit 30 home runs in 1961 he’d have to shift it into gear. He did. Maris hit 50 home runs over a 4 month span that summer. Here’s how his record-breaking 61 home runs were spread out over the season:

April           1
May           11
June           15
July            13
August       11
September 9
October       1

The race to break Ruth’s record was pretty much between Maris and Mantle. Maris eventually broke it on October 1, the 162nd and last game of the season. This led to a controversial ruling by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick; since Maris didn’t break Ruth’s record by the 154th game of the season, an asterisk would be put next to his name because Ruth set the single season record in a 154-game schedule. There’s no evidence an asterisk ever actually appeared in the “record books,” but people think it did, so Maris’ name was unjustifiably tarnished.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, by Leonard Koppett, 1998

 

April 17-A YOUNG MICKEY MANTLE DISPLAYS HIS POWER

1953 | WASHINGTON, D.C. – Imagine someone hitting a ball the length of almost two football fields! Sportswriters, and others who claim to know, believe 21-year old Mickey Mantle did just that on this date in 1953. The prevailing belief is that the blast traveled an estimated 565 feet out of old Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. where the old Washington Senators (today’s Minnesota Twins) were hosting the New York Yankees.

Mantle wasn’t a super star yet. At this stage of his career, he was a young, inconsistent ‘can miss’ switch-hitter from Commerce, Oklahoma.

On this day, Mantle was batting right-handed. On a 1 and 0 pitch, he crushed the ball. According to those present, it not only cleared the regular fence, it sailed over a 55 foot wall 70 feet behind the left center field fence! No one had ever done that before. A ten-year old boy reportedly found the ball in a backyard 105 feet further back.

Why Baseball Needs a Pitch-Clock

Almost overlooked in the same game were some of the talents speed helped Mantle bring to his game early in his career. He dragged a bunt for a single and stole a base.

Before a series of nagging injuries, and the toll of many nights on the town, Mantle was clocked at 3.1 seconds from the left-handed batter’s box to first. One of the fastest times ever recorded.