Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mickey Mantle's longest homer: Yankee Stadium, May 22, 1963 off Bill Fischer.

Mickey Mantle hit a walk off game winning homer off Bill Fischer leading off the bottom of the eleventh inning.

Wednesday, May 22, 1963, 8:02PM, Yankee Stadium I
Attendance: 10,312, Time of Game: 3:13
Yankees 8, Kansas City Athletics 7 in 11 innings

Fischer was a journeyman 32 year old relief pitcher who is best known for giving up this home run; he would retire after the next season.  Mantle was the 31 year old king of the American League, three time MVP, 1956 triple crown winner, twice hitting over 50 homers in a season.  In the World Series that season Mantle would homer off Sandy Koufax, tieing Babe Ruth's WS record of 15 HR, and off Bob Gibson in the 1964 Series.

Mickey Mantle PH heroics following long absences: 1962 & 1963.  Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wednesday, June 5, 1963 Memorial Stadium Baltimore: Mantle hurt trying to prevent a home run...

Mantle leaped against the chain link fence and his spikes caught in the fence.  When he fell Mickey broke his foot and tore ligaments.

Mantle didn't play again until Sunday, August 4, 1963 so the memory of his home run off Fischer lingered even more than it might otherwise.  What made the Fischer homer special is that it almost went out of Yankee Stadium, something that has never been done in a major league game.  This homer is generally regarded as coming the closest.

"Mantle Aims at Right-Field Sky" by John Drebinger, The New York Times, May 26, 1963

"Mantle just missed by a matter of about six feet ... Just six feet higher and he would have made it.

It was the second time he had driven a ball against that facade under the roof.  The first was on May 30, 1956, off Pedro Ramos, then with the Senators."

How far might it have gone had it not hit the top of the Stadium facade?

Hit Tracker estimates the true distance of the Mantle "facade" homer at 504 feet


That analysis alludes to a claim of it being a "734 foot homer".  I had stumbled onto that a couple of days ago at where the guy insists that the ball was still rising when it hit the grandstand.  He mentions that people at the game made that claim.  So did some who merely watched it on TV as I did.  Check on the physics of baseball but it's my layman's understanding that a batted ball could not have been rising that high and that far from home plate.

In 1995 I attended the three day Babe Ruth Conference at Hofstra University on Long Island.  One of the talks was by Bill Jenkinson, an expert on Ruth's homers.  Jenkinson rated the longest hitters in this order: Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle.  Remember, this was 1995.  Immediately, people in the audience spoke up for The Mick, insisting that he should be rated at least ahead of Foxx.  The primary anecdote was Mantle's 1963 homer off Fischer, which they claimed was rising when its flight was rudely interrupted by Yankee Stadium.  One guy said he saw it live ... on television.  That prompted me to speak up.  I stated that I had also watched Mickey hit that homer on TV but that on the TVs of that era a viewer could barely identify Mickey much less whether the ball was rising.

There are some things that I do recall in the days that followed The Mick's 1963 homer.  The Yankees in the dugout supposedly jumped to watch the ball, not to see whether it was a homer but to see how far it would go.  The post game locker room interview about the length of the home run apparently bothered Fischer and he was quoted in the papers to have blurted out that there must be a reason that he was paid $10,000 and that Mantle was paid $100,000.  I remember thinking that was an odd reaction.  Today it seems less so.

Fischer was born October 11, 1930 and so he is 83.  Maybe someone can ask him about that homer.


Cliff Blau said...

I always thought Fischer was best known for breaking the consecutive walkless inning record. He didn't retire after the 1964 season; he kept pitching through 1968 in the minors, and continued to work at least through 2001, when he was Tampa Bay's pitching coach.

Kenneth Matinale said...

Find someone else who thinks Fischer is better known for "breaking the consecutive walkless inning record".

Maybe he also played some softball or sold hot dogs at ballparks.