a string of four straight pennants, the Bronx Bombers were a bust
throughout much of the 1964 season. Yogi Berra had succeeded
Ralph Houk as skipper; there were reports that he got more laughs than
lauds from his players.
It was getting to be late August; the Yankees were in
third place behind Baltimore and Chicago. The Yankees were on the team
bus heading to O'Hare Airport, losers of four straight to the White
Sox, winless in 10 of their last 15 games.
A 5-0 shutout at the
hands of Chicago's John Buzhardt had totally
Phil Linz, #34, reserve infielder, a career .235 hitter
was a tough, aggressive player who loved being a Yankee. But he was
regarded by some to be un-Yankeelike along with teammates Joe
Pepitone and Jim Bouton.
"I sat in the
back of the bus," Linz recalled. The bus was stuck in heavy traffic. It
was a sticky humid Chicago summer day. "I was bored,” Linz said. “I
pulled out my harmonica. I had the Learner's Sheet for Mary
Had a Little Lamb so I started fiddling. You blow in. You blow
An angry Berra
snapped from the front of the bus: "Knock it off!"
But Linz barely
heard him. When asked what their manager had said, Mickey Mantle said,
"Play it louder." Linz played louder.
Berra stormed to
the back of the bus and told Linz to "shove that thing."
"I told Yogi that I
didn't lose that game," Linz related." Berra smacked the harmonica out
of Linz's hands. The harmonica flew into Joe Peptone’s knee and
Pepitone jokingly winced in pain. Soon the entire bus -- except for
Berra -- was enjoying the comic relief.
version has it that Linz flipped the harmonica at the angered Berra and
screamed: "What are you getting on me for? I give a hundred per
cent. Why don't you get on some of the guys who don't hustle?"
Linz was fined $200 -- but as the story goes received $20,000 for
an endorsement from a harmonica company.
"The next day," Linz
gave his version, "the Hohner Company called and I got a contract for
$5,000 to endorse their harmonica. The whole thing became a big joke."
the whole thing changed things around for the Yankees. The summer of
1964 was Linz's most productive season. Injuries to Tony Kubek made the
"supersub" a regular: Linz started the majority of the games down the
stretch, and every World Series game at short.
New respect for Yogi
propelled the Yanks to a 22-6 record in September and a win in a
close pennant race over the White Sox. A loss in the World Series
to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games cost Berra his job
But there were those who
said he was on his way out the day of the "Harmonica Incident."
acclaimed sports author and oral historian Harvey Frommer, with an
intro by pro football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford, When It Was Just
a Game tells the fascinating story of the ground-breaking AFL–NFL
World Championship Football game played on January 15, 1967: Packers
vs. Chiefs. Filled with new insights, containing commentary from the
unpublished memoir of Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram, featuring
oral history from many who were at the game—media, players, coaches,
fans—the book is mainly in the words of those who lived it and saw it
go on to become the Super Bowl, the greatest sports attraction the
world has ever known. Archival photographs and drawings help bring the
event to life.
Harvey Frommer is in his 39th year of writing books. A noted oral
historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books
including the classics: best-selling “New York City Baseball,
1947-1957″ and best-selling Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,
his acclaimed Remembering Yankee Stadium was published in 2008
and best-selling Remembering Fenway Park was published to
acclaim in 2011.