Tag: Mickey Mantle

Should Mickey Mantle’s Corked Bat Impact His Immortal Baseball Legacy?

According to Barry Petchesky of Deadspin.com, an authentication expert concluded that a 1964 game-used Mickey Mantle bat that was going up for auction contained cork in the barrel.

Um, what?

After frantically searching the interwebs for a different Mickey Mantle, we have to confirm, sadly, that this can only be the legendary Yankees outfielder standing before the court of public opinion.

In a modern era defined by genetically-enhanced sluggers and clouds of accusations hanging over some of today’s best players, this one hurts.

We know that cheating, in some capacity, is an unspoken tradition of sorts in baseball, dating back to the spitballers in the first half of the 20th century. But most of these cases are attached to guys who are already unlikable. Pete Rose—whose game-used bat was also the victim of this same expert’s DNA scanner a few years ago—immediately springs to mind.

But this is entirely different. This is an accusation against a man and a player whom aspiring athletes worshiped and baseball junkies enshrine as the gold standard of sluggers. Mantle is a unanimous selection for the Mt. Rushmore of Yankees, which is no small task considering their storied history.

Surely, a situation like this calls for reflection upon the accused’s career. Granted, this was a bat used in Mantle’s age-32 season, so he was on the downswing of his prime. But he still hit .303 with 35 home runs and 111 RBI that season and finished second in the MVP voting.

So make what you will of the time frame that this bat was used in and feel free to draw your own conclusions about the seasons (or games, even) prior and beyond. But the suspicion lingers when the proof is there and the numbers are huge.

It’s been theorized that cork in a wooden bat doesn’t help the ball to go any farther and might actually deaden the impact. But many players who have corked likely did so in order to achieve the use of a lighter, longer bat that allowed them to swing harder and reach more areas of the plate.

Regardless of the actual effectiveness of bat corking, the fact remains that it is illegal, both in baseball law and moral code.

Rose won’t get a second chance, despite never betting against his own team, because he broke a cardinal sin in baseball.

But it’s easier to write off a guy who was classified as a jerk than someone who everyone aspired to be like. Mantle will forever be a legend, no matter what short cuts he may or may not have taken.

Of course, Mantle has been dead for nearly two decades. But does this mean the Yankee great gets a free pass for being one of the best for over 60 years (the days from his debut as a rookie until the news broke today)?

It may be wrong, but it may be all we have.

Mantle may have stuck his loyal fans with the burden of knowledge that he wasn’t who we perceived him to be. It’s up to the ones who care to discuss the issue of whether Mantle’s legacy is tainted. Do we give The Mick the benefit of the doubt? Do we carve an asterisk into his plaque at Cooperstown?

Probably, and definitely not, respectively. It doesn’t mean that’s the right outcome, but it’s the only one.

To the outside observer, the name “Mickey Mantle” will forever echo glory and stand for all that is right in sports. To the diehard fans, the name may now catch in your throat. Or, if you so choose, it may continue to ring clear. (Do we know it wasn’t a one-time fluke? Do we know this isn’t a hoax?)

The ultimate decision of whether or not this incident taints his legacy is, individually, ours to carry.

Mantle isn’t here to defend himself, but in the sense that Mantle is one of the greatest players to ever grace a baseball diamond, he will remain immortal. 


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Maris and Mantle: Back-to-Back and Wall-to-Wall Home Runs at Yankee Stadium

The New York Yankees were hosting the Chicago White Sox for a twi-night doubleheader on July 25, 1961. The second-place New Yorkers trailed the Detroit Tigers by one game. The fifth-place White Sox were 13 games behind despite having a respectable 50-47 record.

Whitey Ford (17-2) faced Frank Baumann (7-7) in a battle of left-handers in the opener. Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle each had 37 home runs going into the games.

The teams traded zeroes until the bottom of the fourth inning. Bobby Richardson became the Yankees’ first baserunner when he drew a leadoff walk. Tony Kubek moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt, bringing up Maris.

The future single-season home run record holder promptly hit a drive that hit the right field foul pole.

Mantle, batting right-handed, now trailed Maris by one home run. He swung at a Baumann fast ball and drove it down the left field line. Guess what? The ball hit the left field foul pole.

The fans went wild as Mel Allen joyfully screamed that Maris and Mantle had hit back-to-back and wall-to-wall home runs.

In the eighth inning, with the Yankees leading 4-0, Maris faced Don Larsen. He hit his second home run of the game to pull one ahead of Mantle.

The Yankees won easily by a score of 5-1. Ford pitched seven scoreless innings to earn his 18th win.

The nightcap figured to be tough for the Yankees. Left-hander Juan Pizarro started for the White Sox against 22-year-old Bill Stafford. It was no contest, as the Yankees coasted to a 12-0 win. Stafford went the distance, but Maris was once again the story.

In the fourth inning, facing right-hander Russ Kemmerer, Maris hit a drive to right field that barely cleared the short concrete wall, or at least that was umpire Frank Umont’s call. White Sox manager Al Lopez was ejected for disagreeing with authority. Maris now had 40 home runs.

He wasn’t finished.

Right-handed veteran Warren Hacker was on the hill. Clete Boyer led off the sixth with a home run. After Stafford grounded out, Richardson singled and Kubek doubled him to third, bringing up Maris.

First base was open but the White Sox pitched to Maris. The result was Maris’ fourth home run of the doubleheader. He finished the day with 42 home runs.

Maris had five hits in nine at-bats, including four home runs. It was a memorable performance that almost everyone has forgotten.

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Mickey Mantle Was Criticized for Not Hitting Important Home Runs

Mickey Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956, batting .353 with 52 home runs and 130 RBIs. My brother and I often heard some of our friends that didn’t exactly root for Mantle or the New York Yankees claim that Mantle usually hit home runs when the Yankees were well ahead or far behind.

Baseball-Reference has posted data that allow us to discover if that claim is true.

The Yankees opened the 1956 season in Washington. In his first at-bat of the season, Mantle hit a two-out home run against Camilo Pascual to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. He put the game away with a three-run blast in the sixth inning for an 8-2 lead on the way to a 10-4 win.

In 1956, Mantle hit 10 home runs with the score tied, seven home runs with the Yankees behind by one run and six home runs with the Yankees ahead by only one run.

Twenty-three of his 52 home runs, 44 percent, were hit when they were most meaningful.

bWE is a statistic that calculates a team’s win expectancy after any play in a game.

After a Mantle home run, the Yankees’ win expectancy was at least 90 percent 12 times, at least 80 percent nine times and at least 70 percent five times.

Only 11 of his 52 home runs resulted in the Yankees’ win expectancy being less than 50 percent.

I guess my friends were wrong during Mantle’s Triple Crown season.

Mantle distributed his home runs nicely. He never had a three-home run game and hit two home runs six times, which means that he hit home runs in 46 of the games in which he played.

The Yankees won the pennant and faced the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. Much had always been expected of Mantle, but coming off such a dominant season put even more pressure on him, if that was possible.

In the Series opener, against Sal Maglie with Enos Slaughter on first and one out in the first inning, Mantle hit a home run—just as he had done his first at-bat in the regular season.

The Yankees won in seven hard-fought games. Mantle was considered to have had only a decent World Series because he batted .250, more than 100 points less than he hit in the regular season.

In 2012, we know that Mantle didn’t perform only decently. He had a great World Series because his on base percentage was .400, his slugging percentage was .667 and he hit three home runs, which was only one short of the record for a seven-game Series.

It’s amazing how Mantle gets better and better despite not having played a game in over 40 years.

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Mantle’s Triple Crown, Berra’s HR Mark & Larsen’s Perfecto: 1956 Was a Good Year

The 1956 baseball season started for the New York Yankees on April 17. The pennant was conceded to them by almost everyone but one or two American League teams.

It appeared that the Yankees had no weaknesses. A 1956 Sports Illustrated spring baseball preview article wondered how any team could beat them.

Yogi Berra was the best catcher in the game. He finished the 1956 season batting .298 and tying his own record for the most home runs by an American League backstop with 30.

In a fascinating statement about Mickey Mantle, the article claims, in all seriousness, “Mantle is so good they say he has a disappointing season if he doesn’t hit .400.” Mantle went on to win the Triple Crown and batted .353.

The infield of Bill Skowron at first, Billy Martin at second, Andy Carey at third and Gil McDougald at shortstop ranked among the best in the league. Both Skowron (.308) and McDougald (.311) were .300 hitters.

According to scouting reports, Skowron had almost as much power as any first baseman in the league. Martin was the Yankees spark.

McDougald had played third base on the 1951 world champions, second base on the 1955 American League champions and now was the regular shortstop, while Carey was expected to provide solid defense and decent power.

The outfield—with Mantle in center field, Hank Bauer (.241 but with 26 home runs) in right field and Elston Howard, Bob Cerv, Norm Siebern and eventually Enos Slaughter in left field—provided power and great defense.

Whitey Ford, who tied for the most wins in the league in 1955 with 18, was expected to win at least that many. He finished at 19-6 with a 157 ERA+.

Bob Turley, Don Larsen, Tom Sturdivant and Johnny Kucks were the other starters. Tom Morgan and Tommy Byrne worked out of the bullpen.

Turley won only eight games due to arm problems, but Kucks stepped up to win 18 and Sturdivant won 16. Larsen won only 11 but we all know what he did on October 8 in the fifth game of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Kucks capped off a great season by shutting out the Dodgers in the seventh game as the Yankees became world champions for the first time since 1953.

The 1956 Yankees were not close to being the greatest Yankees team, but they won the pennant by nine games over the Cleveland Indians.

Mantle led the league in almost every offensive category, Berra hit the most home runs any American League catcher ever hit in a season and Larsen pitched a perfect game.

It was a pretty good team. Another way of looking at it is that it makes on realize the greatness of the 1998, 1927, 1936 and 1939 Yankees.

Yes, the 1998 team was better than Babe Ruth’s 1927 Yankees.

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Jay Bruce: How Good Is the Cincinnati Reds Outfielder Going to Be?

All Cincinnati Reds fans love Jay Bruce. In fact, most of us tend to view the young man with rose-colored glasses. I know I do.

When I watch the powerful left-hander walk completely out of the batter’s circle after every pitch, I know that the next pitch will be delivered into the right field seats. Of course, as you know, that doesn’t happen as frequently as we would like.

Some people called him a young Mickey Mantle. Don’t laugh, but it is stretching it a bit. Mantle was as fast as a deer and played like he thought he would die at 40, which is what he really did fear.

Neither men put fear into the catcher’s heart as far as swiping bases is concerned. Mantle won one Gold Glove in 1962 and Bruce will win his first this year (2012).

What does Bruce have in common with the great Hall of Famer? Other than being born a state apart from one another, not a whole lot.

Bruce is immensely bigger than Mantle, but that can be said about most of the players today in comparison with the players from the 1960s (look up this article I wrote two years ago).

As I said about the speed, if you were scaling them from 1-10, Mantle would have been the 10 in his prime, and Bruce would probably be about a seven.

The only place I can see the rationale of the comparison is in power. After the first four years of playing in MLB, Mantle at hit 84 HR and averaged 27 per year on a 162-game schedule. Bruce, on the other hand, hit 100 while averaging 32 with that same metric.

Mantle isn’t the only prolific home-run hitter that Bruce has bettered at this stage of his career. Barry Bonds had hit only 84 in his first four years, while averaging only 25 dingers a year.

In isolated power stats (ISO) at the age of 22, Bruce had the better of both of the sluggers, but lost a little ground after that.

But his fast track to 100 home runs is what is really exciting when using history as a backdrop. Watch this!

It took Bruce 513 games to whack home run No. 100. The disputed HR king of all time, Barry Bonds, took 640 games to achieve this feat. Mantle did it in 577 games, and the real HR King of all times, Henry Aaron, did it in 544. The man he dethroned, Babe Ruth, took 531 games to do it.

That, my friends is some pretty elite company, wouldn’t you agree?

I am not saying that Bruce is going to hit 700 HR, or even 600 for that matter. The point is, he is off to one of the best starts ever at hitting home runs.

There is plenty of work to be done. His strikeout rate is much too high. If he can cut down on those, you will see more balls flying out of the park.

He had such a terrific start when he came up in 2008. In fact, he was in his 15th game before his average dropped below .400.

Bruce is a streak hitter and can really set the league on fire when he gets hot. In May of 2011 Bruce was the National League Player of the Month by putting up a line like this: .342/.402/.739/1.140 with 12 HR and 33 RBI. That is what I call a streak.

I may be approaching this from a bias slant, but I believe that he is one of the most dangerous hitters in all of baseball.

What is your take on him?

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DiMaggio Hit an Inside-the-Park HR and Mantle Hit One in the Upper Deck in 1962

The New York Yankees were hosting the Chicago White Sox on July 28, 1962. A Saturday afternoon crowd of 53,199 was on hand, but the game between the two rivals was not the primary attraction. It was Old Timers’ Day

The 1937 American League All-Stars faced the National League All-Stars in a two-inning game before the regularly scheduled contest. In 1937, the American Leaguers triumphed by a score of 8-3 at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

Joe DiMaggio retired after the 1951 season because he realized that he was no longer “Joe DiMaggio.” The second-greatest center fielder in history, right behind Ty Cobb, was appearing in his 11th old timers’ game, batting third.

In the first inning, with Earl Averill on first and one out, DiMaggio faced Van Lingle Mungo, who used to throw aspirin tablets for the Brooklyn Dodgers. DiMaggio worked the count to three balls and two strikes.

Mungo peered in to get the signal from his catcher, Ernie Lombardi, nodded assent, went into the wind-up and fired. DiMaggio connected.

The ball soared into deep center field, where the fence was 461 feet away.

To those fans who had seen DiMaggio play, the shot brought back many memories of drives that traveled over 450 ft. only to become outs.

Former New York Giants center fielder Jo-Jo Moore started racing back as almost all the fans rose to their feet. In a vain effort, Moore backpedaled and then fell to the ground as the ball landed beyond his reach and rolled to the wall.DiMaggio was at second base when Moore picked himself up and started after the ball. The crowd screamed for DiMaggio to keep going, which he did.  When Moore finally picked up the ball at the base of the wall, DiMaggio was about to touch third.

He was huffing and puffing as the crowd kept yelling for him to go for it. DiMaggio rounded third and headed for home.

Shortstop Dick Bartell caught the relay from the outfield, whirled and fired a strike to Lombardi that DiMaggio barely beat. The fans went berserk—especially the older ones.

In the dugout, a winded and grinning DiMaggio (yes, he did smile on occasion) told his teammates that he was retiring for a second time.

The day was filled with irony.

Dizzy Dean, whose career was cut short when Averill hit a line drive back to box that struck Dean in the foot, fracturing his toe, was injured in the old timers’ game.

Dean started the game and lasted one batter. Charlie Gehringer hit a sharp ground ball to the right of first baseman Johnny Mize. Dean went to cover first and tripped over the bag, ending his day.

In the regular game, the White Sox led the Yankees 3-0 when Mickey Mantle, the center fielder many modern fans rank ahead of DiMaggio, more than matched the Yankee Clipper’s feat.

Mantle broke up knuckle baller Eddie Fisher’s shutout bid with a seventh-inning home run into the upper deck of the right field stands.

It was a special day. Fans could say that they were at a game in which DiMaggio and Mantle each hit a home run.

It’s been asked thousands of times, but it will always be worth asking again: How many home runs did Yankee Stadium take away from Joe DiMaggio?

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MLB: Modern Statistics Reveal Mickey Mantle Was a Better Hitter Than Willie Mays

When the “experts” compared Mickey Mantle to Willie Mays, the first thing they mentioned was each player’s batting average. Then they compared the number of home runs each player hit and that was usually followed by comparing their slugging averages. Finally, RBI totals and runs scored were cited.

Mantle struck out much more than Mays, which was considered a tremendous negative. Mantle walked much more than Mays, but on base average didn’t become an official statistic until 1984.

After each had retired, Mays was generally considered the greater offensive player, although it was generally conceded that when he was healthy, as he was for most of 1956, Mantle more than held his own against Mays.

In 2011, a player’s offensive abilities are measured differently from the days of Mantle and Mays.

Many of the recently created modern statistics fail to account for many variables and some might even be based on faulty premises, but they have made Mantle into a better offensive player than Mays, so more power to them.

Batting average is much less important today than it was when Mantle and Mays were active.

Mantle finished at .298. Mays finished at .302.  However, American Leaguers batted .256 during Mantle’s career while National Leaguers hit .264 during Mays’ career. Mantle hit 42 points higher than the league average. Mays batted 38 points above the league average. Of course, during the 1950s, the National League had many more great black players than the American League. Statistics are great.

Mantle’s career on base average was .421 compared to Mays’ .384. Each had a .557 slugging average.

Mantle’s best single-season slugging averages were .705 in 1956, .687 in 1961 and .665 in 1957. Mays’ best were .667 in 1954, .659 in 1955 and .645 in 1965.

Do you think they were pretty good hitters?

The most home runs Mantle hit in a season was 54 in 1961. Mays’ single-season high was 52 in 1965.

Now let’s go to the new measurements.

WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, purports to determine the number of wins a player added to the team above what a replacement player would add. A WAR value greater than eight is considered MVP quality and a value greater than five is All-Star quality.

Mantle’s top WAR values are 12.9, 12.5 and 11.9. Mays’ best are 11.0, 10.6 and 10.4.

Mays played for 19 full seasons. In 1952 (army), 1972 and 1973, he was a part-time player. Mantle played 16 complete seasons. He missed much of 1963 when he broke his foot in a fence at Baltimore and played in only 96 games his rookie season.

Mays’ career WAR is 154.7. Mantle’s is 120.2.

Offensive winning percentage purports to determine the percentage of games a team with nine of a specific player batting would win, assuming average pitching and defense. Mantle produced an .803 winning percentage compared to Mays’ .748.

Willie Mays was the most exciting player in the game when he wasn’t batting. Mantle was the most exciting batter since the days of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

On the bases and in the field, few could compare to the excitement Mays brought to the game, but when Mantle stepped into the batter’s box, the possibility of seeing a ball leave Yankee Stadium, the sound of the ball meeting the bat and the chance that Mantle would eschew going for the downs and try to start a rally by dragging a bunt are almost indescribable.

It is fascinating to compare how Mantle and Mays were evaluated when they played to how their careers are evaluated today.

Regardless of one’s preference, few players have been as great as Mantle or Mays.

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Why Mickey Mantle’s Strikeouts Are No Longer Criticized by Baseball "Experts"

Mickey Mantle was criticized severely for striking out so much during his career, but in the 1950s and 1960s, the “experts” didn’t know that a strikeout was merely an out.

Players of Mantle’s era considered striking out an embarrassment. After striking out, many players would hang their heads as they returned to the dugout.

Mantle struck out an average of 115 times over a 162-game season, which was more frequently than Willie Mays (83), Hank Aaron (68), Ralph Kiner (82), Roger Maris (81), Frank Robinson (88), Harmon Killebrew (113) and Ernie Banks (79).

What made Mantle great was that in his career he walked (1,733) more times than he struck out (1,710).

Among the above players, only Ralph Kiner and Hank Aaron walked more than they struck out.

Modern “experts” have concluded that it is relatively unimportant how often productive hitters strike out.

In 2011, American League MVP contenders Curtis Granderson and Adrian Gonzalez have struck out 147 and 112 times, respectively, in 135 games each.

Mark Reynolds has 31 home runs to go with his 166 strikeouts, while Ryan Howard has 30 home runs and 153 strikeouts. Mike Stanton, who may set a new rookie home run record, has hit 31 home runs with 146 strikeouts.

Mickey Mantle no longer holds any New York Yankees single-season strikeout records.

In 2000, Jorge Posada struck out 151 times, the most by any Yankees switch-hitter. Alfonso Soriano’s 157 strikeouts in 2002 is the most by any Yankees right-handed hitter.

Reggie Jackson struck out 133 times in 1978, which was the most by any Yankees left-handed hitter until Granderson this season. Granderson has already broken Reggie’s record in only 135 games, and he will add to his dubious distinction.

The most times Mantle ever struck out in a season was 126 in 1959. He followed that with 125 in 1960.

Mantle often said that the injury he suffered in the 1957 World Series, when Milwaukee Braves second baseman Red Schoendienst fell on his right shoulder, ruined his swing from the left side of the plate, which accounts in part for so many strikeouts.

But from 1955-58, again in 1961-62 and for the last time in 1968, Mickey walked many more times than he struck out, averaging 122 walks and 97 strikeouts a season.

In 1957, which might have been more productive than his Triple Crown season of 1956, Mantle walked 146 times with only 75 strikeouts. This may be more significant that anyone ever realized.

Mantle’s knowledge of the strike zone had never been as good as it became in 1957, but it was in that year’s World Series that his right shoulder was injured. How much more would he have produced with a healthy right shoulder?

The major difference between today’s free-swinging sluggers and Mantle is that among the 11 batters who have hit at least 30 home runs this year, only Jose Bautista (109 BB and 92 K), the great Albert Pujols (54 BB, 51 K) and Prince Fielder (89 BB and 88 K) have more walks than strikeouts.

Mickey Mantle has become better as the years have passed. A major reason is that his strikeouts are no longer considered much of a negative.

Some great players who followed Mantle have made his career 1,710 strikeouts seem less extreme.

Reggie Jackson struck out 2,597 times for the all-time record. Jim Thome, who is still active, has 2,473 strikeouts.

In seventh place, with a chance to break Jackson’s record, is Alex Rodriguez, who has struck out 1,904 times.

How often has A-Rod been criticized for striking out too much?

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New York Yankees: Mickey Mantle Edged by Joe DiMaggio

In 1999, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) rated the 100 greatest players of all time. Mickey Mantle finished 12th. Joe DiMaggio finished sixth.

SABR is a respected organization that is on the cutting edge of innovation with respect to modern statistics, but their rankings can be questioned. Many fans, especially today’s New York Yankees fans, rate Mantle ahead of DiMaggio.

DiMaggio’s peak seasons occurred consecutively from his rookie season in 1936 through 1941, when he hit in 56 consecutive games. DiMaggio had a good year in 1942, but it was well below the seasons that had preceded it.

After returning from helping to defend freedom during WWII, which cost him three seasons, DiMaggio never quite regained his earlier form.

From 1936-41, DiMaggio batted .345, had a .408 on base average, slugged .626 and averaged 33 home runs. When one projects his home run average to a 162 game season, home runs increase to 39.

Mickey Mantle didn’t come into his own until 1955. Following an erratic, inconsistent rookie season in 1951, Mantle was a fine player the next three seasons and then matured.

From 1955-58, Mantle hit .331 with a .462 on base average and a .643 slugging average. He averaged 41 home runs, which increase to 46 when adjusted for a 162 game season.

The next two years were not Mantle’s best, but he had excellent seasons in 1961 and 1962, hitting .319 with a .465 on base average and a .652 slugging average. He averaged 42 home runs, which increase to 50 when adjusted for 162 games.

Based on peak seasons, it is a fool’s task to choose one over the other. Based on the rest of each player’s career, DiMaggio gets a statistical edge, primarily because his only subpar season was 1951, when hit batted .263 with a mere 12 home runs.

Mantle’s rookie year (.267/.349/.443) and three of his final four seasons were well below the norms set during his career. He batted .255 in 1965, .245 in 1967 and managed to hit only .237 in his final season.

Many fans and those in the media point out that despite his low averages, Mantle had solid on base averages during those three seasons (.379, .391 and .385), but his slugging averages (.452, .434 and .398) were unlike Mickey Mantle.

Those who saw DiMaggio play, and that number is decreasing with the passage of time, point out that DiMaggio was a far superior defensive player compared to Mantle, but one must wonder how much of that is based on legend or exaggeration.

Unlike Mantle, who played the outfield on speed and instinct, DiMaggio was exacting in his study of the hitting patterns of opposing players, and the effects of wind and ballpark peculiarities on the flight patterns of baseballs

Many writers, teammates and opponents have claimed that DiMaggio was such a natural outfielder that he never had to dive for a ball to make a catch.

In 1947, Joe was victimized in the World Series when Brooklyn’s Al Gionfriddo robbed him of a potential game-tying home run by making one of the great catches in World Series history. Years later, DiMaggio spoke to a writer about the catch.

“Don’t put this in the papers, but if he’d been playing me right, he’d have made it look easy.”

Teammate Bobby Brown claimed that DiMaggio would have made the catch but without diving for it. That makes for good copy, but it is mere hyperbole.

DiMaggio was rarely fooled by a fly ball. He seemed to glide across the huge center field expanse of Yankee Stadium with little effort. He made the difficult seem easy, but he proved he was human during the 1936 All-Star Game.

In the second inning, Joe misplayed Gabby Hartnett’s line drive into a triple, allowing Frank Demaree to score the game’s first run. DiMaggio tried to make a shoestring catch, but the ball went between his legs and rolled to the wall.

DiMaggio was not a showboat. He made only the moves necessary to make the play.

He would reach the ball just as it fell into his glove, which seemed to make the catch inevitable. Baseball scribe Wilfrid Sheed wrote “In dreams I can still see him gliding after fly balls as if he were skimming the surface of the moon.”

Mantle was originally a shortstop who was defensively challenged. He was switched to the outfield, where he became an above average defensive player.

Mantle had a great throwing arm, at least as good as DiMaggio’s, until Red Schoendienst fell on his right shoulder on a pick off play in the 1957 World Series.

Mantle was faster than DiMaggio, but the latter was probably a better baserunner. Mantle was a much greater stolen base threat but Joe McCarthy, who was DiMaggio’s manager for many years, made an interesting comment.

“He was the best baserunner I ever saw,” McCarthy said. “He could have stolen 50, 60 bases a year if I let him. He wasn’t the fastest man alive. He just knew how to run bases better than anybody.”

No matter how one interprets the statistics and evaluates the opinions of those who saw both men play, Joe DiMaggio was just a little bit better than Mickey Mantle.


100 Greatest Players at Baseball-Almanac

Joe DiMaggio Articles

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Chipper Jones: Statistically Comparing Him to Eddie Murray and Mickey Mantle

Last night Chipper Jones continued his hot start to his 18th major league season by going 2-4 with a double and a single, including three RBI. His second hit was also Jones’ 2,500th of his career, adding another stat to his Hall of Fame career.

Jones has been considered one of the best switch-hitters of all time. I agree with this, and think that he is at worst the third best of all time, but could he be even higher? Statistically speaking anyway? Time to find out.

I am matching him up with Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray, two of the greatest players in baseball history. We’ll be looking at the trio’s 162-game averages as well as their career marks in the statistics given. The numbers speak for themselves as far as Jones’ career goes.

Without further ado, let’s get this started.


Editor’s Note: Jones’ current 2011 numbers are added to his totals.

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