Alex Rodriguez hit a dramatic home run in his first plate appearance of 2009. Returning from hip surgery, Alex blasted Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie's first pitch into the left field stands for a 3-run home run. The extraordinary feat brought back memories of August 4, 1963.
Mickey Mantle's First Appearance in 2 Months
Baltimore beat the Yankees, 7-2, in the first game of a doubleheader. The Orioles were leading the nightcap, 10-9 in the bottom of the 7th inning when, after Clete Boyer struck out, Mickey Mantle pinch hit for pitcher Steve Hamilton. It was Mickey's first appearance since he had broken a bone in his foot attempting to make a catch in Baltimore on June 5.
A Dramatic Moment
The fans gave Mickey a rousing ovation as he stepped into the right handed batter's box for the first time in two months. Orioles' left-hander George Brunet got the signal from catcher Dick Brown, went into the wind up, and Mickey took strike one. Mickey stepped out of the batter's box, rubbed some dirt on his hands, peered at Brunet, and got back into the box. Brunet delivered, Mickey swung, and the ball found a new home in the left field stands. The fans went wild.
An Explosion in a Milli-Second
Mickey Mantle's pinch hit home run was one of the most dramatic in Yankee Stadium history. When Mickey Mantle batted, there was an excitement in the stands that had not been seen since the days of Babe Ruth. It was thrilling to see Willie Mays make impossible plays in the outfield or run from under his cap, but a Willie Mays' catch or stolen base were not instantaneous events. It took a second or two to unfold. A Mickey Mantle home run was like an explosion that occurred in a milli-second.
A Disappointing Season
1963 was not a good year for Mickey Mantle. Injuries limited him to only 65 games and 213 at-bats. Mickey batted .315 with 15 home runs and 35 RBIs.
The Yankees won their 4th consecutive pennant easily, but Los Angeles, led pitchers Sandy Koufax, nemesis Johnny Podres, and Don Drysdale, sweep the 1962 defending World Champions. Mickey managed only 2 hits in 15 at bats, but one of the hits was a game tying home run against Koufax in Game 4.
Mickey Mantle's pinch hit home run was memorable, but the Yankees were comfortably in first place at the time, and would have won the pennant without Mickey's dramatics. Alex Rodriguez' first 2009 home run could prove to be more significant. But it won't.
By WILL BRADBURY. (1963, August 5). Yanks Bow, 7-2, Then Beat Orioles, 11-10, on Berra's Sacrifice Fly in 10th :MANTLE'S HOMER TIES SCORE IN 7TH Bomber Star Clicks in First Appearance Since June 5-- Terry Beaten in Opener Kubek Opens Winning Rally 2 Innings Last 75 Minutes Pepitone Belts 19th Homer. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 40. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 98608491).
The New York Times. (1963, August 5). Mantle's Heroics Prove Cheers For Slugger Are Well Deserved. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 40. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 98608496).