Mickey Mantle batted third most of his career, but in 1960, in a game against Cleveland, Casey Stengel batted Mickey second. The Yankees were struggling during the early part of the season, losing too many close games, and Casey, who changed lineups more often than a politician changes her views, decided that he wanted his best hitters to get as many as at bats as possible.
Casey Explains Why Mantle Should Bat Second
“As for Mantle,” Casey told reporters, “he’s been looking the ball over better this year than I ever can remember him doing before and getting more walks than any of my other players.” Mantle had walked 16 times in 17 games, which was more than any other two Yankees’ players combined. Stengel continued, “So it occurred that it would be a good thing to have Mickey up there where he might get on base a lot and be knocked in by some of my other fellows who are hitting good too, and thereby get us some of the runs which we so sorely need.”
The Yankees' Batting Order
On Thursday, May 12, 1960, Stengel put Mickey into the number two slot, behind lead off hitter Tony Kubek and ahead of Yogi Berra. Roger Maris hit fourth, Bill Skowron fifth, Ellie Howard sixth, Gil McDougald seventh, and Bobby Richardson eighth. Stengel’s plan didn’t work at first.
Mickey Was Hitless
Before a Yankee Stadium afternoon crowd of 7,350 fans, Mickey struck out in the first inning, flied out to right in the third, walked in the fifth, took a called third strike in the seventh, and flied out to left in the tenth. That’s 0-4 with a walk. Indians’ right-hander Gary Bell went all the way, as the Tribe beat the Yankees and Ralph Terry, who also pitched a complete game, 3-2. It was the Yankees’ third consecutive extra inning loss at home.
A Home Run Off Jim Kaat
The Yankees visited Washington the next day, playing a Friday night game in which Mickey again batted second. After Tony Kubek led off the game by grounding out to first unassisted, Mickey hit a booming home run to left field off rookie left hander Jim Kaat. With the score tied 3-3 in the eighth inning, Mickey walked after Kubek had singled, as the Yankees scored two runs and eventually won, 7-3. Mickey went 1-3 with an RBI and a walk.
Ralph Houk Manages
Mantle batted second in every Yankees’ game until May 30 when Yankees’ bull pen coach Ralph Houk managed the team because Stengel was suffering from a viral infection. Houk batted Mickey third in both games of the doubleheader as the Yankees split with the Senators. There was a fascinating ending to the twin bill.
When the Fans Injured Mickey
Mickey caught a fly ball to end second game. Fans surged onto the field immediately after the catch, stole Mickey’s hat, and grabbed at his uniform. Mickey lowered his head as he bulled his way through the crowd of screaming, groping fans. Once Mickey reached the safety of the clubhouse, Ice packs were applied to his bruises. Shortly thereafter, Mickey went to Lenox Hill Hospital, where x-rays revealed there were no fractures. He was placed on a soft food and a liquid diet. In an attempt to prevent such an incident from reoccurring, the Yankees announced that ushers would form a wedge around Mickey as they accompany him to the dugout after each game.
Mickey Batted in the First Five Spots During His Career
Mantle hit third most of the remaining season, although Stengel had him bat fifth a few times. Casey Stengel never had a set lineup. In Game 4 of the 1953 World Series, Mantle led off. He hit fifth the next day. Fans think of Mickey as a number three hitter, which is true but Mickey hit in the first five spots of the batting order during his career. It really didn’t matter much where he hit, because when he was healthy, he almost always hit.
Effrat, Louis. "Bombers Bow, 2-1, Then Win 3-2 Game." New York Times. 31 May 1960, p. 36.
Sheehan, Joseph M. "Yankees List Mantle to Bat Second." New York Times. 12 May 1960, p. 43.
Sheehan, Joseph M. "Nixon's Home Run Beats Terry, 3-2; Blow in 11th Sends Yankees to Third Straight Loss." New York Times. 13 May 1960, p. 35.
Sheehan, Joseph M. "Turley Triumphs in Relief, 7 to 3." New York Times. 14 May 1960, p.17.
"Mantle Hurts Jaw In Running Battle With Mob of Fans." New York Times. 31 May 1960, p. 36.