by Harold Friend
Mara Gould-Phlower doesn't give much credence to the odds makers. They made the Yankees 4-5 favorites to win the 1965 pennant, but Mara remembers how she thought that the Yankees' spring training problems, both on and off the field, were a better portent of the future.
The Yankees Were in Trouble
I was getting tired of the Yankees winning so many pennants, but as spring training continued to unfold, it was becoming apparent to those without blinders on that the Yankees were in a lot of trouble.
Nick's Cocktail Lounge
It was the beginning of April, 1965, and the Yankees had lost 12 of their last 15 exhibition games. After returning to their home base in Fort Lauderdale after dropping another game to the Athletics in Bradenton, some of the Yankees' players went to unwind at Nick's Cocktail Lounge.
Things were quiet until just before midnight. Roger Maris was sitting at the bar with Clete Boyer, Hal Reniff, and batting coach Joe DiMaggio.
Harsh Language and Punches
According to a patron named Jerome A. Modzelewski, who was a 25-year- old professional model, as he and a female companion were leaving, someone addressed him with harsh language. Mr.Modzelewski told his companion to stay outside as he returned to the bar.
Roger Maris is Accused
He claims that he was punched on his lip and later required 10 stitches to close the wound. Modzelewski first didn't mention names to the police, but he later accused Roger Maris of hitting him.
The player who has hit more home runs in a single season than anyone vehemently denied the charge of assault and battery, which was a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.
"I said nothing to him, and he said nothing to me. The first I ever saw him was when I nearly tripped over him while he was down. Somebody in the bar hit him, I guess, but it wasn't me, and anyone who says so in court will be making himself liable to perjury."
The Yankees Supported Roger Maris
New Yankees' manager Johnny Keane accepted Maris' version without reservation. DiMaggio phoned new Yankees' general manager Ralph Houk in support of Maris.
The next day, some of the Yankees were at their motel's swimming pool, awaiting a night game against Baltimore. The team was relaxed as Joe Pepitone offered Maris his services "in case Perry Mason isn't available." Another player advised Roger to tell the judge that he had amnesia from being hit in the neck by a pitch.
Troubles on the Field
Meanwhile, the Yankees' troubles on the field continued. They lost another game, this time to the Birds from Baltimore. Roger hit a 400 foot home run, but the Orioles rallied for a 4-3 win. Mickey Mantle left the game in the second inning, complaining that he felt pain in his right leg.
Clete Boyer is Accused
Two days later, Mr. Modzelewski swore out another warrant, which accused Clete Boyer of taking part in the assault. Modzelewski's lawyer claimed they had two witness to support their allegations that Boyer called out a four-letter obscenity as his client was leaving Nick's bar.
Modzelewski claimed that he and his date demanded an apology.
"The man in the hat (Boyer) replied, 'You're not getting an apology. Do you want to fight?'"
"I walked to my car and he called me the same name again. I demanded an apology. Then Maris said, 'Let's get this guy.'"
At the trial, Maris testified in his own defense. Modzelewski's lawyer called two witnesses, as did Maris' lawyer. There was conflicting testimony, and after each lawyer presented his summation, Judge Arnold Grevior declared,
"I find the defendant not guilty. There's a reasonable doubt in my mind about just what did happen."
A few days later, Maris filed a suit against Modelewski, asking for $10,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages.
Boyer Found Guilty
Clete Boyer's case wasn't settled until November, when his lawyer entered a no-contest plea to charges of assault and battery. Boyer was fine $175 and received a 30-day suspended jail sentence from Judge Arnold Grevior.
The 1965 Yankees finished in sixth place, 25 games behind the pennant-winning Minnesota Twins.
By JOSEPH DURSO Special to The New York Times. (1965, April 3). DiMaggio: Maris Didn't Swing :Former Yankee Ace Was at Scene of 'Crime' Bombers Lose to Orioles by 4-3 in Night Game . New York Times (1923-Current file),22. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 97191319).
By GERALD ESKENAZI. (1965, April 4). ASSAULT CHARGED TO YANKS' BOYER AS WELL AS MARIS. New York Times (1923-Current file),S1. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 98456746).
By JOSEPH DURSOSpecial to The New York Times. (1965, April 8). PLAYER TESTIFIES HE STRUCK NOBODY :Says He Tried to Halt Fight in Bar -- Witnesses Give Conflicting Accounts. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 50. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 101537063).
Maris Wants Pay in Court, Asks $310,000 in Damages. (1965, April 9). New York Times (1923-Current file),24. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 101537444).
Boyer of Yanks Fined $175 For Brawl in Florida Bar. (1965, November 30). New York Times (1857-Current file),51. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 95005254).\