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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mickey Mantle 1966: lightning back in his bat ... for 11 days.

I stumbled onto something that I long recalled: the Mick getting his old power back after he had declined.

In 1966 from June 28 through July 8, the Mick hit 11 home runs in 11 days, 14 games, raising his total to 18.

He hit his first homer in 1966 on May 9, his 21st game (four as a PH), and his 23rd and last homer on August 26.  But for those 11 days Mickey Mantle had the lightning back in his bat.

He hit two home runs in one day four times, the final day a doubleheader, the others individual games.  He started with four homers in Boston, two off Jose Santiago and two off former teammate Rollie Sheldon the next day.  Mickey played left field in Boston, so he must have been hurting.

Then in Washington back in CF: July 1 off Phil Ortega, July 2 two off Mike McCormick (L) , July 3 off Pete Rickert (L) .

No homers in  the next five games, 14 AB: July 4 doubleheader, July 5, July 6 doubleheader, PH in game 2.

The final three at Yankee Stadium: July 7 walk-off against Boston's Don McMahon, July 8 doubleheader against Washington - game 1 off Dick Bosman, game 2 off Jim Hannan.

The Yanks record was 36-45, 6-8 during Mickey's hot streak.  It was a dismal time for the Mick and for his fans.  But the Mick had pulled within two homers of Frank Robinson who would finish 1966 with 49, the AL MVP and the first triple crown since Mickey's ten years before.

The home run streak was over because Mickey didn't play again until July 18, ten days later, when he pinch hit a double in Minnesota.

He went homerless in his next three games but then homered in consecutive games July 23 & 24.  That gave him 20 in his 80th game played.  Mickey hit 20 homers in his 59 games played (including four as a PH: no HR) from May 9 when he hit his first.  July 23 Frank Robinson hit his 28th home run.

Mick's final home run on August 26 was a PH walk-off against Hank Aguirre (L) with Clete Boyer on base and Yanks trailing 5-4.  Mickey played only eight more games in 1966, two as a PH.

In 1966 Mickey hit 14 HR in 192 AB batting right handed, 9 HR in 141 AB batting left handed.  192/14 = 13.7.  141/9 = 15.66.

The Mick could not sustain it.  He did what aging sluggers do: rise up for a time then fade back, waiting for their inevitable extinction.

Note: In 1967 Mickey failed to homer in his first 11 games, then homered in two consecutive games April 29-30.  May 17 through May 21 he homered in four consecutive games played, 5 of 6.  Consecutive games again May 27-28, 3 of 4.  Two HR in game 1, July 4.  Only one HR July 26 through August 31, 31 games played.  Then homered in two consecutive games Sept. 2-3.  Then no HR in his final 22 games played.  He did hit number 500 Sunday May 14, 1967 off Stu Miller before 18,872 fans at Yankee Stadium.  It was Mickey Mantle's last hurrah.

1 comment:

Richard Petrassi said...

I was at the game on July 7. The homer was a majestic, soaring 3 run shot and it made a 9 year old boy very happy. The Mick was 0 for 3 going into the last at bat.