Two days ago the Yankees had their annual old timers event before the regular season game. I was disappointed that the 1961 Yankee team was not specifically honored on the 50th anniversary of the historic home run race between teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and the new MLB team record of 240 HR. Maris, of course, broke Babe Ruth's record of 60. Mantle had 54. I was 13 years old that season and it is still my favorite season as a Yankee fan.
It just occurred to me that Mantle and Maris are still the only teammates to hit 50 HR. Not only are they the only pair to hit 50 in the same season but they are the only teammates to do it in any seasons.
The M&M boys broke the two teammate record of Ruth and Lou Gehrig (60+47 = 107) in 1927: (61+54 = 115). Mantle, Maris and Bill Skowron may have the three teammate record (61+54+28 = 143).
In 2001 Barry Bonds hit 73. Second on his team? Rich Aurilia 37. That's 110, three more than Ruth and Gehrig. Jeff Kent hit 22. Aurilia went to Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, NOT my high school, Xavier on 16th Street in Manhattan.
In a sense, Ruth and Gehrig come the closest to being teammates hitting 50 in the same season. Then there are Albert Belle and Jim Thome with Cleveland. Belle hit 50 in 1995 and teammate Thome hit 25. In 2002 Thome hit 52 but Belle left Cleveland after the 1996 season and retired after 2000.
I'm not even sure how many other pairs of 50 homer batters were ever teammates even on different teams. The 2011 Yankees have Alex Rodriguez (Texas 57, 52 and Yankees 54) and Andrew Jones (Atlanta 51). Mantle played with Johnny Mize (NY Giants 51) 1951-1953 but Mantle did not hit 50 until 1956 (52). Pittsburgh 1947: Greenberg (Detroit 58) and Kiner who hit 51 that season. There may be others but you get the idea.
That makes the 1961 Yankee achievements all the more special. Too bad 2011 Yankee management does not share that perspective.