Mickey Mantle, Tape Measure Shot, April 17, 1953
Mel Allen always had a way with words.
Here is his re-creation call of the epic Mickey Mantle home run. The
original call was never preserved. Allen's recreations are easily
spotted when he uses full names (Yogi Berra, Chuck Stobbs) and
adjectives like "tremendous drive.
"Yogi Berra on first. Mickey at bat with the count of no strikes.
Left-handed pitcher Chuck Stobbs on the mound. Mantle, a switch-hitter
batting right-handed, digs in the plate. Here's the pitch . . . Mantle
swings. . . there's a tremendous drive going into deep left field! It's
going, going, it's over the bleachers and over the sign atop of the
bleachers into the yards of houses across the street! It's got to be one
of the longest home runs I've ever seen hit. How about that! . . .we
have just learned that Yankee publicity director Red Patterson has
gotten hold of a tape measure and he's going to go out there to see how
far that ball actually did go."
According to Marty Appel, the well known Yankee expert and public
relations man extraordinaire, "Red never got hold of a tape measure; he
it off with his size 11 shoes and estimated the distance."
Washington outfielders at Griffith Stadium never moved. Only twice
before had a ball ever been hit over the Griffith left-field wall - once
by Joe DiMaggio and once by Jimmy Foxx.
Their shots, however, bounced in the seats before clearing the last
barrier. Mantle's shot blasted toward left center, where the base of the
bleachers wall was 391 feet from the plate. The distance to the back of
the wall was sixty-nine feet more. A football scoreboard was atop Mickey
blasted the ball toward left center, where the base of the bleachers
wall is 391 feet from the plate.
The distance to the back of the wall is sixty-nine feet more and then
the back wall is fifth feet high. Atop that wall is a football
scoreboard. The ball struck about five feet above the wall, caromed off
to the right and flew out of sight.
Donald Dunaway, ten years-old, scrambled over the fence and was the
first to get to the ball. Close behind was Yankee publicity director
Arthur E. Patterson.
"Lookout!" Yankee third base coach Frank Crosetti, screamed at Mantle.
Billy Martin stayed at third base and pretended to tag up. Mickey ran
the bases with his head down and didn't notice Billy standing there and
almost ran him over."
"That was the hardest ball I ever saw hit," Martin complimented his
buddy. The ball was eventually recovered in the back yard of a house
across a major thoroughfare and four houses up a bisecting street, some
562 feet from home plate.
Scuffed in two spots, the ball finally stopped in the backyard of a
house, about 565 feet from home plate. In one of the best trades in
baseball history, Patterson traded the Mantle home run ball for one
dollar and three new baseballs to be autographed by the Yankee players.
So was Mantle who said: "If I send the ball home, I know what will
happen to it. My twin brothers will take it out on the lot, like any
Chuck Stobbs was not happy. "Mickey didn't get a hit every time he faced
me. I got him out a few times, too."
Yankees PR director Red Patterson was happy and also went into the
history books. He coined the term "tape measure home run" by measuring
the distance with a tape measure of that monster shot.
Mantle's shot may be the most famous home run ever hit. The Guinness
Book of World Records lists it as the longest home run to be measured at
the time it was hit.
# # #
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
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