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Mickey Mantle, Tape Measure Shot, April 17, 1953

by Harvey Frommer

Mel Allen always had a way with words. Here is his re-creation call of the epic Mickey Mantle home run. The original call was never preserved. Allen's recreations are easily spotted when he uses full names (Yogi Berra, Chuck Stobbs) and adjectives like "tremendous drive.

"Yogi Berra on first. Mickey at bat with the count of no strikes. Left-handed pitcher Chuck Stobbs on the mound. Mantle, a switch-hitter batting right-handed, digs in the plate. Here's the pitch . . . Mantle swings. . . there's a tremendous drive going into deep left field! It's going, going, it's over the bleachers and over the sign atop of the bleachers into the yards of houses across the street! It's got to be one of the longest home runs I've ever seen hit. How about that! . . .we have just learned that Yankee publicity director Red Patterson has gotten hold of a tape measure and he's going to go out there to see how far that ball actually did go."

According to Marty Appel, the well known Yankee expert and public relations man extraordinaire, "Red never got hold of a tape measure; he walked it off with his size 11 shoes and estimated the distance."

Washington outfielders at Griffith Stadium never moved. Only twice before had a ball ever been hit over the Griffith left-field wall - once by Joe DiMaggio and once by Jimmy Foxx.

Their shots, however, bounced in the seats before clearing the last barrier. Mantle's shot blasted toward left center, where the base of the bleachers wall was 391 feet from the plate. The distance to the back of the wall was sixty-nine feet more. A football scoreboard was atop Mickey blasted the ball toward left center, where the base of the bleachers wall is 391 feet from the plate.

The distance to the back of the wall is sixty-nine feet more and then the back wall is fifth feet high. Atop that wall is a football scoreboard. The ball struck about five feet above the wall, caromed off to the right and flew out of sight.

Donald Dunaway, ten years-old, scrambled over the fence and was the first to get to the ball. Close behind was Yankee publicity director Arthur E. Patterson.

"Lookout!" Yankee third base coach Frank Crosetti, screamed at Mantle. Billy Martin stayed at third base and pretended to tag up. Mickey ran the bases with his head down and didn't notice Billy standing there and almost ran him over."

"That was the hardest ball I ever saw hit," Martin complimented his buddy. The ball was eventually recovered in the back yard of a house across a major thoroughfare and four houses up a bisecting street, some 562 feet from home plate.

Scuffed in two spots, the ball finally stopped in the backyard of a house, about 565 feet from home plate. In one of the best trades in baseball history, Patterson traded the Mantle home run ball for one dollar and three new baseballs to be autographed by the Yankee players.

So was Mantle who said: "If I send the ball home, I know what will happen to it. My twin brothers will take it out on the lot, like any 20-cent rocket."

Chuck Stobbs was not happy. "Mickey didn't get a hit every time he faced me. I got him out a few times, too."

Yankees PR director Red Patterson was happy and also went into the history books. He coined the term "tape measure home run" by measuring the distance with a tape measure of that monster shot.

Mantle's shot may be the most famous home run ever hit. The Guinness Book of World Records lists it as the longest home run to be measured at the time it was hit.

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