As the 2nd place Detroit Tigers came to Yankee Stadium on September 1st, the Yankees held a slim 1 1/2 game lead over them. The Yankees won the first two games of the three game series. In the second game, on a check swing, Mickey badly pulled a muscle in his left forearm. He then grounded out and later had to bunt in his last at bat, because the pain was too great for him to swing and he refused to come out of the important game.
The next day, manager Ralph Houk did not originally have Mickey in the starting line up. Mickey objected and assured Houk that he could play despite the pain. Houk then had Mickey swing a bat right there in the locker room and then decided to let Mickey participate in batting practice. Again, Mickey masked the pain and convinced Houk that he could play so he was put into the line up.
Jim Bunning was on the mound for the Tigers who quickly took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Mickey came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning with Roger Maris on first base. On a 2-0 pitch, Mickey fouled the next pitch but the pain in his forearm was unbearable as he grimaced in pain and went down on one knee to gain his composure. Three pitches later, with a full count, Mickey blasted a home run (his 49th of the season) into the right field stands.
In between innings, Mickey iced his forearm to numb the pain and to keep the swelling down. He struck out in the fourth and sixth innings.
The Tigers had a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning when Mickey stepped to the plate as the lead off hitter. A Tiger victory would wipe out one of the two Yankee victories and reduce their lead to just 2 1/2 games. On an 1-0 pitch from relief pitcher Gerry Staley, Mickey launched his second home run of the game (his 50th of the season) to tie the game 5-5. The Yankees went on to win that game 8-5 and increased their lead over the Tigers to 4 1/2 games.
After the game, Ralph Houk stated about Mickey, “He’s an amazing player and a superb competitor. I know very well he was in more pain than he cares to admit. For a guy who was hurting like that, he had one helluva day.”