Inside Pitch

April 17, 1953: Mickey Mantle hits a 565-foot home run off Chuck Stobbs at Griffith Stadium

 

BY NICK ANAPOLIS
APRIL 15, 2013

Mickey Mantle connected to hit his 565-foot shot with this borrowed bat from Loren Babe, which he preferred when batting right-handed. (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF Library)

“Somebody once asked me if I ever went up to the plate trying to hit a home run. I said, ‘Sure, every time.’” said Mickey Mantle.

Two years to the day since his MLB debut – on April 17, 1953 – future Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle hit one of the furthest recorded home runs in history. It was that day sixty-years ago when the term “tape-measure home run” was born, as one of the game’s best power hitters hit a colossal 565-foot shot out of Griffith Stadium.

It was the top of the fifth and the Yankees were leading the Senators 2-1 on a windy day in Washington. Yogi Berra had just walked, leaving it up to the 21-year old Mantle to extend the inning. After borrowing a teammate’s bat, the switch-hitter stepped into the box from the right side facing the left-handed Chuck Stobbs. Mantle received a chest-high fastball from Stobbs, crushing his delivery into left field. 

The towering shot flew over the 391-foot mark on the fence, clearing 32 rows of bleachers in left-center field, and bounced off an advertising sign 460-feet from home plate. The ball cleared Fifth Street directly behind the left field wall and proceeded to roll until finally stopping 565-feet from home plate in the backyard of 434 Oakdale Street a few blocks down. 

Immediately after the blast, Yankees press secretary Red Patterson left the stadium to go measure out the distance and retrieve the ball. The first to the baseball however, was a 10-year old boy who was willing to give it up for just 75 cents. Patterson gave the young boy a dollar and later sent him five more dollars and two autographed baseballs in return for the home run ball. The ball and Mantle’s bat eventually made its way to Cooperstown. 

Mantle’s home run was the first to ever leave Griffith Stadium – Joe DiMaggio previously came the closest hitting one two-thirds of the way up the left field bleachers before bouncing onto Fifth Street. 

“I saw Babe and Lou hit balls out of parks all over the country, also I was catching when fellows like Jimmie Foxx were blasting pitches a good country mile. Frankly, I never thought I’d see their like again, but now I’ve changed my mind,” said Yankees coach Bill Dickey.

Mantle, who was known for his imposing power, feasted off the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium throughout his career, helping him lead the league in home runs four times. He nearly hit a few balls out of Yankee Stadium, lacing them off the third deck facade. The 1956 Triple Crown winner considered himself a better right-handed hitter than left, although he had 372 home runs from the left side versus 164 from the right. 

Bothered by injuries for most of his career, Mantle retired after 18 seasons with the Yankees at the age of 36. For his career, Mantle amassed 536 home runs, 1,509 RBI, .298 average, 20 All-Star game appearances, and seven World Series rings. 

“On two (good) legs, Mickey Mantle would have been the greatest ballplayer who ever lived,” said Hall of Famer Nellie Fox

The three-time American League MVP was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, his first time on the ballot. 

Nick Anapolis is the spring 2013 public relations intern at the Baseball Hall of Fame

 

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