- New York Yankees (Present)
- Why Yankees should be worried about Luke Voit and -- to some extent -- Gleyber Torres
- Table of contents
- Cubs will rely on experience in quest to repeat
Like Maris, Mantle had played running back as a high school football player, but baseball was his passion, instilled by his father who had worked with him as a young boy, insisting he become a switch hitter. He could also move with lightening speed running the bases and in the outfield, especially in his early years. In his early spring training appearances with the Yankees in , he had received effusive praise from famous Yankees such as former catcher and Hall of Famer, Bill Dickey, then a Yankee coach.
When Mantle came to play with the Yankees, he was touted as the next link in the legendary line of Yankee superstars, and the likely replacement for Joe DiMaggio, whose centerfield spot he would inherit full time in In , Mantle posted a. At that time, in fact, he was only the twelfth player in baseball history to have won it. By , however, the new kid in town — Roger Maris — was also demonstrating his talents. In fact, in his very first game as Yankee, Maris hit a single, double, and two home runs. Maris hit 39 home runs in , along with RBIs and a. Mantle took the home run title that year with 40, along with 94 RBIs and a.
Although the Yankees had won the pennant in , and were favored to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series, the Pirates prevailed, wining one of the most dramatic Game 7 battles in baseball history. By November , Sport magazine featured Maris in a cover story touting him as rejuvenating the Yankees. Still, compared to Mantle, Maris was the newcomer and slow to become a fan favorite.
New York Yankees (Present)
In mid-January , Mickey Mantle, then 29, was the highest-paid active player in professional baseball. I ought to have my best year. Click for separate story. In the World Series against Pittsburgh, Mantle hit a torrid.
Why Yankees should be worried about Luke Voit and -- to some extent -- Gleyber Torres
Roger Maris hit. That Mantle drive soared over the right field fence and went completely out of the park, disappearing into the distance. It was a good omen for the home run derby to come between he and Maris in the regular season. On the mound was ace Whitey Ford, and a superb reliever in Luis Arroyo.
Table of contents
So coming into the season, the Yankees were favored to win the American League pennant. Roger Maris watching one of his home runs take flight.
In the home run race between Mantle and Maris that season, the lead would shift back and forth between the two power hitters numerous times throughout the summer. Mantle got off to a strong start in April, hitting seven round trippers. Maris was slow at the start. The Yankees were already 11 games into the season before Maris hit his first home run.
Mantle had a productive April, but Maris picked up the pace in May, hitting Nor were Mantle and Maris the only American Leaguers hitting home runs that season. These power hitters were also in the home run hunt through much of the summer, until both Maris and Mantle pulled away from the pack in later months.
In June, Maris hit 15 and Mantle Still, they would each sometimes have four- and -five-game droughts without hitting a single home run, followed by a hot streak by one or the other, sometimes with multiple home runs in the same game. In Yankee Stadium on June 11th, Mantle hit an impressive upper deck home run against the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning of a second game doubleheader, giving Mantle the home run lead at 18 — but only momentarily.
Two innings later, in the same game, Maris hit his 19th home run, followed by another in the seventh inning, raising his total to During a game road tour that month, Maris would hit seven more. By the end of June it was Maris 27, Mantle It was about then, that reporters started to speculate, with a few asking the principals directly about the Ruth record, as one did with Maris after he hit his 27th at Kansas City.
But Maris replied:. Thankful, too. At the first All-Star game break of July there were two All-Star games played at the time, the second coming in August , Maris was in the lead at 33 home runs with Mantle at Then on July 17th that summer, Commissioner of Baseball, Ford Frick, made a ruling addressing the difference between the Ruth-era game schedule and new game schedule inaugurated that year in the American League to accommodate its expansion to 10 teams.
Failing that, and anyone hitting more than 60 during the game schedule would have to carry some special mark or notation indicating that it was done during the longer schedule. Roger Maris was a bit misunderstood by the press, who treated him unfairly in their reporting, adding to his woes and the pressure to beat the Ruth record.
The Frick ruling touched off a long-running controversy, with divided opinion among fans and players. Still, Mantle and Maris at that point were both on pace to eclipse Ruth in games, but the pressure was on both of them. In fact, on July 17th, the day of the Frick ruling, during the second game of a doubleheader at Baltimore, both Mantle and Maris each lost a home run they had hit that day due to a rain out, with that game and their home runs cancelled. Maris was considered the outsider; not a true Yankee. And unlike Mantle, he was not the easy-going type, personality-wise.
His workman-like focus on his craft was often mistaken for a dower, unconcerned disposition. And accordingly, he suffered, unfairly, for how the press portrayed him in their stories. Still, Maris always took time to talk with the press — multiple times a day in some cases as the race heated up with reporters camped out at his locker — often subject to repeated and inane questioning.
While the harsh treatment he received from fans and press did bother and upset him, it also helped steel him in his quest for the record. Meanwhile, back in the home run hunt, Mickey Mantle went on a bit of tear in mid-July , hitting seven homers in eight games at Yankee Stadium. Against Chicago on July 13th and 14th, Mantle hit two Nos.
Maris was then having a bit of a hitless stretch over some 19 at-bats in six games. But Maris soon broke out of his funk in a big way on July 25th in Boston. During a doubleheader there he hit four home runs — two in each game — for Nos. Mantle hit No. In early August, Mantle had another multiple home run performance, hitting three home runs — Nos. Maris had hit his 41st homer two days earlier. That story also included a chart comparing where each Ruth, Mantle and Maris were in their progression of hitting home runs after games: Ruth 36, Maris 41, and Mantle The Yankee win streak ended the next day, as they lost to the Senators, but Maris hit his 43rd.
August 18, The Real Odds. The Mantle-Maris cover photo was taken by photographer Philippe Halsman, while the ghostly background photo of Ruth from earlier times had been taken by William Greene. Inside the magazine, a several-page story featured Mantle and Maris in separate photos, each swinging mightily for the fences. The odds were against Maris, but the combined probability of one or the other or both men breaking the record was in favor. Still, with more than 40 games to go in that chase, Life acknowledged there were certain other variables and imponderables that could still come into play for Mantle and Maris.
But behind the scenes, there was a high-stakes drama in play as well, and it was taking a toll on both hitters, especially Maris. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were much alike on one level, both coming from the Midwest, raised in working class families, with similar high school athletic stardom, and both marrying their high school sweethearts.
Yet, in terms of personality and lifestyle, they were quite different. Mantle was more outgoing and gregarious than Maris, and liked being in the limelight.
Though he played it humbly, Mantle really loved the media attention and he wanted the adulation. Mantle had the benefit of 10 years experience in the New York fishbowl, and had learned quickly how and when to smile and what to say and not say to the press. Even in , on his way to the Triple Crown, as Mantle crossed the 50 home run threshold and was seen as a possible contender to the Ruth home run record, fans and press jumped on him as the undeserving soul and threat to the Ruth legacy.
Now, Maris was getting the treatment full bore — fans jeering and booing him, receiving threatening mail and telegrams, and followed by a constant throng of press at his every turn. Yet this attitude often made the press go after him all the more. In his book, October , David Halberstam would write of Maris in the latter months of the home run race:. The Yankees, completely unprepared for the media circus, gave him no help, offered him no protection, and set not guidelines. They let him, stubborn, suspicious and without guile, hang out there alone, utterly ill prepared for this ordeal; they never gave him a press officer to serve as a buffer between him and the media, or even set certain times when he would deal with the reporters, so what it would not be a constant burden.
They did not filter requests, or tell him who he might trust and whom he might not or which requests were legitimate and which were trivial. Under all this pressure, Maris grew more and more irritable. He found that he could go nowhere without a phalanx of journalists….
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Maris and Cerv had in effect, rescued Mantle from his more freewheeling lifestyle and Times Square hangovers, when he lived downtown at the St. Moritz hotel. Sure, Mantle and Maris were competitors in the home run race, but they were also friends despite significant lifestyle differences. And as a pair of New York Yankees hitting home runs, they were very good for the business of baseball, and not only in New York.
Cubs will rely on experience in quest to repeat
As the Yankees went on the road to other cities, record crowds began coming out, but not to see their home teams. August 21, New York Times story on the increased interest of TV viewers tuning in for the home run race. Radio audiences for Yankee games were also up.