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The Copa Incident: May 16, 1957

Despite Yogi Berra's emphatic denial: "Nobody did nothin' to nobody," a lot did happen at the Copacabana nightclub in Manhattan when Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer, Whitey Ford and Johnny Kucks gathered to celebrate Billy Martin's 29th birthday.

Mickey Mantle recalled what happened: "Two bowling teams came in to celebrate their victories. Sammy Davis, Jr. was the entertainer. They kept calling him Little Black Sambo and stuff like that. Billy and Hank kept telling them a couple of times to sit down. They kept standing up. The next thing I knew was that the cloak room was filled with people swinging. I was so drunk I didn't know who threw the first punch. A body came flying out and landed at my feet. At first I thought it was Billy (Martin) so I picked him up. But when I saw it wasn't I dropped him back down. It looked like Roy Rogers rode through on Trigger, and Trigger kicked the guy in the face."

The fracas resulted in Ford, Bauer, Berra, Mantle, and Martin being fined $1,000 each. It also resulted in a Bronx delicatessen owner suffering a concussion and a fractured jaw. It also resulted in Casey Stengel dropping Hank Bauer to eighth in the lineup the day after the incident but leaving Mantle in the batting third in the order. "I'm mad at him, too, for being out late," the Yankee skipper said. "But I'm not mad enough to take a chance on losing a ball game and possibly the pennant."

The main result of the episode was the trading away of Billy Martin to Kansas City.

"I'm gone," Martin told Mantle and Ford the day after the incident. "George Weiss is just looking for an excuse to get rid of me."

"I needed him this one time in my life and Casey let me down," was how Martin felt about Stengel who he thought let him down by not sticking up for him.

"Billy thought that Casey got rid of him," Mantle said. "I never thought that. It was the farthest thing from the truth. Casey loved. Billy."

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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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