Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sports Center Saturday - Mickey Mantle hits grand slam home run

Mickey Mantle at the plate
Municipal Stadium, Kansas City
August 19, 1962
my photo from the upper deck
No, Mickey Mantle was not one of my long lost relatives. But he played a big role in my early years. As I've written before, there are many baseball players in my family, including my father, my maternal grandfather, and two great uncles on both sides of the family. For whatever reason, the New York Yankees were my number one team. Today, I've expanded "my teams" to include the St. Louis Cardinals. So I've got a team in each league.

I remember listening to baseball games on the radio with my grandmother, Sina Bellinger Kelly. There was something about the name Mickey Mantle that resonated with me. At such an early age (under five), I really believe that I thought Mickey Mantle and Mickey Mouse were the same person! Anyway, I loved his name. Then I remember watching baseball games on our black and white television set.

Then came along the summer of 1961 and the home run race between the two Yankees, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. This season was expertly recreated in Billy Crystal's film 61*. I followed the home run race, read the box scores, and checked the statistics on a daily basis that summer. Being a huge Mickey Mantle fan, I wanted him to beat Babe Ruth's record. But as long as the record was broken by a Yankee, it didn't matter.

1962 rolled around and a dream came true for me. My grandparents, parents and I went to Kansas City's old Memorial Stadium to see the Yankees play the Kansas City Athletics on August 19, 1962. The Yankees were smokin' that day. Home runs were the norm. Mantle hit 3 for 4, including the seventh grand slam home run of his career. It was enough to see Mantle and Maris and the rest of the Yankees, but to see a grand slam! I was thrilled!

Between Mantle and Elston Howard, the two drove in 15 runs to beat the A's 21 - 7. Howard hit two home runs. It wasn't as if the A's were idle that day, either. Of 11 hits by the A's, four were home runs! No kid could ask for anything better than that!

Just as baseball is a big part of my lineage, it's still a big part of my life today (as a TV spectator anyway). Opening Day is April 1, 2011. It can't get here soon enough.

source: Beckley Post Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 20, 1962

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this! My favorite subject, my favorite teams (grew up outside NY; live in St. Louis), and one of the all time greats. What a glorious day you had! Pitchers & catchers report in less than a month!