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Johnny Blanchard, Four Straight Hommers - July 21- 22, 1961

Most people associate home run hitting and the Yankees with 1961 and Roger Maris. But it was also the time of Johnny Blanchard. The third string catcher nearly quit in 1960 when Casey Stengel toyed with

 activating 40-year-old Jim Hegan as a back up to Yogi Berra when Elston Howard was hurt. Casey was glad he didn't go for Hegan; Blanchard had a career year and was adequate behind the plate. And he also did some special home run hitting.

On July 21, Johnny B hammered a ninth inning, two out, pinch hit grand slam home run at Fenway Park to push the Yanks to an 11-8 victory over the Red Sox. The next day Blanchard hit another ninth inning, pinch hit homer to spark a second come-from- behind victory over Boston.

On July 26, the man they called "Super- Sub" slashed his third and fourth home runs at Yankee Stadium against the Chicago White Sox. The homers drove in four runs as the Yanks beat the White Sox, 5-2.

Four straight homers over three games tied a major league record. Not bad for a guy who was ready to pack in his career the year before.

Blanchard's career was essentially spent as a third string catcher: He played in 516 games, batted .239, hit 67 home runs. In the World Series he caught fire; in  15 games he batted .345 and had five home runs.

In 1965, the Yankees traded him to to Kansas City. The "Super- Sub" sat in the Yankees clubhouse and sobbed away. Mickey Mande sat down next to Blanchard and attempted to cheer him up. 

"Don't take it so hard, John. Just think, in Kansas City you're going to get a chance to play."

"Hell, I can't play, Mick. That's why I'm crying."
   
But Blanchard could play especially on July 21- 22, 1961 - when his bat was lit by lightning.

#   #   #

You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

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. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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