Gift of a Tiger

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Gift of a Tiger

091968tOn September 19, the Yankees were in Detroit playing the first place Tigers in the third game of a three game series. The Tigers had won the first two games which clinched first place in the American League for them.

Denny McLain was the starting pitcher for the Tigers and he entered the game with an astounding 30-5 record. In the top of the eighth inning, McLain had a commanding 6-1 lead over the Yankees on his way to his 31st victory. With one out in the inning, Mickey Mantle stepped up to the plate while the crowd of 9,063 gave him a standing ovation. The crowd knew that Mantle would probably retire after the season so it was most likely his last at bat in Tiger Stadium. What followed next was something unprecedented in major league baseball history.

McLain called Tiger catcher, Jim Price, halfway to the mound and told him to tell Mickey that he wasn’t going to “work” on him. He added that Mickey had always been his hero and since this would be his last at bat, he wanted to see if Mickey could “hit one”. Price returned to the plate and conveyed the message to Mickey. Not sure he could believe Price, Mickey took the first pitch, right down the middle of the plate, for a strike. Price assured Mickey that the same pitch was coming again. Mickey fouled the next pitch off for strike two.

McLain shrugged his shoulders in puzzlement and asked Mickey where he wanted the next pitch. Mickey pointed to knee high. McLain delivered the next pitch exactly where Mickey requested it and Mickey parked it into the upper deck in right field. As he rounded the bases, Denny tipped his hat to Mickey. The fans gave Mickey another standing ovation and all of the players in the Tigers dugout also stood up and applauded The Mick!

091968

Tiger third baseman, Don Wert, watches as Mickey rounds third after hitting his 535th career home run off Denny McLain in the eighth inning. The home run put Mantle in sole possession of third place, passing Jimmie Foxx, in the all time home run list.

1968 Topps Card

1968 Topps Card

 

2016-12-12T11:30:38+00:00 September 19th, 1968|News, Radio, Storybook Moments|7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Rick April 23, 2015 at 12:05 am - Reply

    So Mickey passed Jimmie Foxx, and was third, behind only the Babe and Willie Mays. Those players were stars when baseball was America’s past time. Never forget ’em.

  2. Ralph Hite June 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    I was fortunate to see the young Mantle play shortstop in Class D baseball at Independence, KS, in the KOM league, some of his first professional games in the summer of 1949…I will remember it forever….

  3. Mike Castrilla October 26, 2015 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    The “Mick” was my idol. He was the most gifted player I ever saw. I live in Ohio and my dad took me to many Yankee-Indian games as a kid. There will never be another one quite like him. I wish he had been injury free for his entire career. I would also like to see him play 18 years in the new Yankee Stadium. Most of his fly balls would have been home runs. RIP Mickey

  4. Joseph Kalavsky November 26, 2015 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Mickey Mantle was the greatest baseball player I have ever seen, He was my idol, hero, and most important, a friend.

  5. Jim Howes February 9, 2017 at 12:37 am - Reply

    I was 15 in 1961, and I could name all the Yankee players in the lineup–but Mickey was and still is the greatest ball player I have ever seen. He captured us–even his name was great. Truly one of a kind–The Mick.

  6. Rick Moye June 18, 2017 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    I was 10 years old when I first saw the “Mick”on Saturday Game of the Week. That was 1960. I had a ton of cards, but would be a Multi-Millionaire today, “if” My Mother had NOT thrown away my cigar box of Perfect Mantle cards! I put cards on my bicycle, but NOT Mantle cards! I was #7 when I played ball, the Mick was ALL that mattered in those days! I am now 66 years young, and have been collecting baseball cards/etc for about 30 years! Needless to say, My Mantle collectibles are many and at the TOP of My List! There will NEVER be a Player, in My opinion, that made baseball what it is today! Mickey was Special, and loved like NO player that ever played! RIP!

  7. richard e collier October 15, 2017 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    YES I ALSO HAD MICKEY MANTLE CARDS FROM 50S & 60S.

    SOMEHOW I LOST MY BASEBALL CARDS CAUSE WE RELOCATED OFTEN.

    YES THE MICK & YANKEES WERE SPECIAL BASEBALL TEAM THOSE YEARS 50S & 60S. I ALSO WATCH YANKEES & MICK ON SATURDAY GAME OF WEEK.

    NOW AM ALSO 66 YEARS OLD AND LIVE WEST COAST CALIFORNIA & FAR FROM NEW YORK & NEW YANKEE STADIUM .

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