August 18, 2006

The Mick's 10 biggest taters: Did anyone hit 'em as far as Mantle? Will anyone?

posted by mjkredliner to baseball at 01:23 AM - 45 comments

Just wanted to share this site with those who may not have seen it. The quotes are great, I highly recommend #'s 135 thru 138. I much prefer baseball talk over that of athletes in trouble. I don't think anyone hit 'em further, maybe I'm wrong!

posted by mjkredliner at 01:28 AM on August 18, 2006

Not sure if you are wrong or not, but those are some amazing numbers. The first one that bounced clear back to the infield had to have the crowd going nuts.

posted by jojomfd1 at 02:57 AM on August 18, 2006

Fun stuff, but of course the numbers are largely BS. "So how do we get 734 feet? In the example above, we assumed that the ball was at its apex when it struck the fašade. However, observers were unanimous in their opinion that the ball was still rising when it hit the fašade. How do we determine how high the ball would have gone? In fact, we cannot. From this point forward all numbers become guesses ..." I am extremely skeptical of the eyewitness accounts that the ball was still rising when it hit the facade. "This is a good example of what can happen with estimates, especially computer estimates that determine the length of home runs now. Most of the home run distance numbers used today are the result of computer estimates of how far the ball would have traveled without obstruction. (One of these programs gave the 734 foot number listed.) Whether or not this is a fair number is a matter of opinion. However, if the distance of this home run is disputed, then the distance of many of the home runs hit by today's players must be questioned." Indeed, yes. Modern numbers are mostly BS too. Since the point is that Mantle hit 'em a long way, maybe longer than anybody, my doubts about the absolute length are irrelevant and petty. But I can't help myself. (And the author is honest about the uncertainties in the calculations, which is refreshing.)

posted by Amateur at 05:38 AM on August 18, 2006

I much prefer baseball talk over that of athletes in trouble. I agree. Thank God Mickey Mantle didn't drink himself into liver failure or anything unseemly like that. Nice post, though. True homerun geek chic, and I say that in the most reverent tones. He hit 'em a ton, to be sure. /rings doorbell, runs behind tree

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:38 AM on August 18, 2006

Mantle was a bit before my time but it reminds me of two other guys I grew up watching that fall into the catagory of "not in any way best ever but damned fun to watch". They were Cecil Fielder and Bo Jackson="">. Particularly I am reminded of Cecil hitting it over the roof at the old Tiger Staduim and when Bo after his hip injury and being dumped by KC hit it into the waterfall beyond centerfield at Kaufman Stadium.

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 06:01 AM on August 18, 2006

Before any goes crazy saying I am equating Mantle to Cecil Fielder I am not implying that. Just three guys with tremendous power who (guessing on mantle) were a lot of fun to watch and also fall into the woulda shoulda coulda catagory. Mantle and Jackson lost time to injuries that shortened their career and Cecil just getting such a late start at the major league level. Of course the key difference is Mantle "coulda been" the best ever whereas Bo and Cecil "coulda been" Hall of Famers, maybe.

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 06:08 AM on August 18, 2006

You gotta question 734 for sure, and a few of the 600+ claims, but, I think many of his shots 500+ were legit. And from both sides of the plate! Mick played hard in more ways than one, thats for sure, I woulda loved to have been a fly on the wall when Martin, Ford, and Mantle were out on the town.

posted by mjkredliner at 07:55 AM on August 18, 2006

kyrilmitch, how can you compare Mantle to Fielder? Just kidding, couldn't resist. Anyways, mjk, thanks for the link. It's gone straight to my bookmarks. Having been able to meet several Yankee greats such as Mantle, Berra, Martin, and Rizzuto, nothing was as awsome as being around Mantle. The guy was really bigger than life in New York (and elsewhere). Mind you, I was a kid at the time, but people young and old were like rats following the Pied Piper around. It's hard to imagine how many records Mantle could have owned if he had better health and a different lifestyle when he played. But all that added to the aura of the guy. But as a baseball fan, tape-measure home runs are still what gives you chills when you watch. That one that hit the top of the facade at the old stadium, whether it was 730-some feet or whatever, was a freakin' shot.

posted by dyams at 08:06 AM on August 18, 2006

Great post,'liner.As a childin the 50's in Detroit,Mantle was my idol.I saw him several times at Tiger Stadium and will never forget the homerun I witnessed.It was a shot into right center,but the damned ball never seemed to rise more than 20 feet.

posted by sickleguy at 08:29 AM on August 18, 2006

That's amazing; those are huge hits. I never knew he hit 'em so long (the 734 math seems a little suspect, but still; however long it was, that's the monster hit of all time, surely). My dad'll love this link. Thanks, mjkredliner.

posted by Hugh Janus at 08:56 AM on August 18, 2006

I never got to see Mantle play because I wasn't born yet but I've read about how far he could hit the ball. If he was hitting the ball that far then, why aren't players of today hitting the ball that far? They talk of juiced baseballs and players. Surely someone could hit the ball that far. Players are bigger and stonger today. How is this not translating into 500+ foot home runs on a regular basis? I wonder how far Reggie Jackson's homer would have gone in Detroit if it hadn't hit the light tower?

posted by dbt302 at 08:56 AM on August 18, 2006

They're not hitting the same now because the balls are coming down the pipe faster and of course MLB has to put certain restrictions on bats (to keep the game fair, ha) now. I bet Mantle was someone to go the game to see. We get a big stick and get all excited about records and then he gets caught up in a steroid scandal (Bonds) or has a temper tantrum when he doesn't get to play ( A- Rod). The game is still great, but is not Mantle's game anymore, it is a shame.

posted by Psycho at 09:41 AM on August 18, 2006

Were the balls different back then? 734!?! That is HUGE! Hell, even the 600+ numbers are astonishing. I thought Big Mac hit some bombs but in the side by side comparison Big Mac finishes 9th on the Mantle list. Side note, one of my favorite homeruns was seeing Glen Allen Hill back when he was playing for the Cubs in the early 90's (I believe) hit a bomb to right field that cleared the park, the street and smashed through a second floor window. That was estimated at over 600 feet I believe.

posted by timdawg at 09:46 AM on August 18, 2006

Really cool stuff. Its funny how they have those 50 year old pictures with the big red arrows. Even though the numbers may not be entirely accurate, these are still fun sites to go to.

posted by Kendall at 09:57 AM on August 18, 2006

I just have to say this one thing. Mickey Mantle is indeed a legend and does in fact deserve to be in the Hall of Fame BUT, and here's the big but, BUT...with all the craziness surrounding baseball and steriods, how do we know that those monster shots were legit. I know, I'm gonna get hated on for even implying that the Mick was on something but I'm just asking a credible question. Back in those days, guys took 'greenies' which gave them a 'boost.' I am in no way saying that the great Mickey Mantle was a 'juicer', I'm only insinuating that with all the crap that's being brought up about baseball player, it's only fair to speculate about the past lengends that played the game since there was no actually drug testing being done back then. What sucks the most is that after all the McGwire/Palmeiro/ Canseco & Bonds talk, no one is safe anymore. When a homer is smacked further than any one before, questions are usually raised.

posted by BornIcon at 10:12 AM on August 18, 2006

Hell yeah, perhaps there was some laudanum in his liniment!

posted by Hugh Janus at 10:30 AM on August 18, 2006

I always loved the Mick because he grew up about 50 miles form my home town and played his first professional game about 15 miles away. I never got to see him play though. So I'm not taking anything away from him at all. But they say Josh Gibson used to hit some monster shots also. Obviously we'll never know who hit 'em further.

posted by scottypup at 11:06 AM on August 18, 2006

Considering physicists say that a ball can't possibly be hit 600 feet (nevermind 734), I feel that those numbers are a bit suspicious. Let's just say that he hit them very, very far and leave it at that. The only player I've seen that has that sort of power is Adam Dunn. After all, how many times did a Mickey Mantle home run ball end up in another state?

posted by grum@work at 11:15 AM on August 18, 2006

Back in the day when the Twins played out doors, they used to have an advertisement on the top of the scoreboard in right field. On TOP of the scoreboard they had this tree, which was an advertisement for a bank. Reggie Jackson came up to bat, and smacked the snot of out it. Not only did he hit the tree on top of the scoreboard, but the ball was still on the way UP when it hit the tree. It would have been way out into the parking lot if not for that tree.

posted by bobrolloff at 11:52 AM on August 18, 2006

Back in the day when the Twins played out doors Wasn't there some old hand named Killebrew that used to hit some monsters, too?

posted by mjkredliner at 11:56 AM on August 18, 2006

As my user name suggests, I was, am, and forever shall be a Mick Fan. It was my era, and I grew up watching the man accomplish great things in spite of his injuries, both physical, and mental. Nick Canepa wrote an great article in the San Diego Union about the Mick after breakfast with one of his team mates from the '50's, Jerry Coleman. As Jerry mentioned about Mantle, all of his team mates were in awe of. There were better ballplayers, notably, Mays and maybe Aaron, of his time, but none had more athletic ability. He stood, 5'11" at best, and weighed less than 200 lbs, yet there was no one who could hit a ball farther, or run as fast as he could. 3.1 sec to 1B, from the left side. He had it all. The HBO special done on Mantle, was poignant, to the point, and did not overlook his failings. If you've never seen it, it's available as part of a series that includes dvd's on Joe D., and the Babe, from HBO. It's worth every penny whether you're an admirer or not. It's about baseball history in the biggest baseball market of the time. The Big Apple. I would have loved to rumble with the Mick, Martin, Ford, and Berra.

posted by bigmickfan at 12:37 PM on August 18, 2006

I saw that HBO special. It was done by Billy Cyrstal, YES- the very same Billy Crystal that made the Roger Maris/Mickey Mantle movie, 61* (Which by the way, was the most incredible baseball movie since The Natural) I was not from that era, I'm from the A-Rod, Griffey Jr, Jeter-era but does that make me any less of a baseball fanatic? lol- I absolutly love baseball history with the Josh Gibsons, Jackie Robinsons, Satchel Paiges (All negro league hero's) also the DiMaggios, Mantles, George Herman Ruths. I mean, baseball IS America's past time. I grew up a BASEBALL fan so nevermind the, "What's ur favorite team" questions. (the Mets) I have nothing but respect for the sport and wish that ball players would look deep within themselves and ENJOY the game. It may be their job, but is it really? It's a kids game and we're all kids at heart anyways. PLAY BALL

posted by BornIcon at 01:38 PM on August 18, 2006

Mickey was a hell of a ballplayer, and he could hit the ball a long way. Sure, I wouldn't hold him up as a role model, and I wouldn't let him sit my kids or anything, but on the field, he was a good as anyone. Will anyone hit it as far as Mantle did? We'll never know if even he himself could. Judging home run distance is a parlor game in the first place. (Third-grade geometry, decades-old eyewitness acounts & archival photographs won't give you an accurate measurement. Sorry.) Even the measuring software in today's ballparks isn't very trustworthy, and it's not really in anyone's interest to tell the truth about such things anyway. And ultimately, it doesn't matter. It's before my time too, but just from the stories, Mays was better, and Aaron was way more consistent in his greatness, but Mantle sounds like he was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

posted by chicobangs at 01:45 PM on August 18, 2006

Yeah chico, I'm not here to authenticate the accuracy of the alleged distance anyone hits (or hit) the ball, more like just tryin' to invite comparism's and such nonsense. Kinda nice to just chew the fat an' tell a few lies once in a while. But, I might add, that many of the eyewitnesses to Mantle's shots (Williams, Stengal, Martin, et al) were not known for their hyperbole.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:58 PM on August 18, 2006

I too was a big fan of Mickey Mantle. I could not wait for the weekly saturday broadcast. Let's not forget Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Joe Pepitone, Elston Howard, Clete Boyer, ... My most favorite HR was in the World Series against Bob Gibson.

posted by Mustang 71 at 01:59 PM on August 18, 2006

You know, this is one of the coolest baseball links ever. Thank you!

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:41 PM on August 18, 2006

You are welcome, sir. There is a ton of history and memories in the quotes section, I think you'll agree.

posted by mjkredliner at 03:56 PM on August 18, 2006

mustang 71, The one Mantle hit off Gibson was huge. 3 run job I think, and I heard a replay of the broadcast on a link somewhere. It might have been his 18th and last WS HR. My fav, though, was his walk-off HR off Barney Shultz, Cards, knuckleballer same series. Mantle hit it a mile, (470 ft according to the records) and supposedly after a night on the town which was why Houk wouldn't let him start. Mick was a party guy, we know. Who's to be so self righteous as to say what he/she wouldn't do back in those days, when it was something sort of expected and routine to tie one on. That's not an excuse, he definitely had a problem, but let's keep that in perspective. Anybody remember 3 martini lunches? Sort of a expected routine also. We live in a different age now. Aaron was, I think, the most under rated player of his day. The man could hit, hit with power, run, and was a helluva RF with a rifle for an arm. Even the Mick admitted, Aaron and Mays were his superiors. There were numerous black players, who never had a shot at the major leagues, and MLB history would have been much different if they had. BTW, I have the HBO Mantle DVD in my hands as I type, and there are no credits on it for Billy Crystal. Exec Producers, Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein, Coordinating Prod., Brian Hyland, Producer, George Roy, writer, Steven Stern, and Narrator, Liev Schreiber. Although, I would not doubt Crystal contributed in some way. He's a huge Mickey fan.

posted by bigmickfan at 05:18 PM on August 18, 2006

Hey Mustang 71, thanks for jogging my memory. How about Ryne Duren, fireballing RH relief with goggles for eyeglasses, Luis Arroyo, Hank Bauer, Tony Kubek, Bobby Shantz, Bob Turley, Bob Cerv, Gil MacDougall?

posted by bigmickfan at 05:24 PM on August 18, 2006

I didn't get many chances to see Kubek play, but he and Curt Gowdy were great as the voices of "NBC's Game of the Week" for all those years.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:31 PM on August 18, 2006

Here's the link for the SD Union article on the Mick by Nick Canepa.

posted by bigmickfan at 05:39 PM on August 18, 2006

Thanks for the link, mjkredliner. Great history, but as a volunteer umpire I have one quibble with the website's story about the Griffith Stadium shot (#7). The author states "Had Mickey touched Billy he would have automatically been declared out and would have been credited only with a double." That is not true; only if Mantle were judged to have PASSED Martin would he be called out....

posted by tglenn29 at 06:00 PM on August 18, 2006

tglenn, Good point. My link though, not mjkredliner. :~)

posted by bigmickfan at 06:30 PM on August 18, 2006

Excellent article! Hell of a read. Grum: You mention physicists, then cite Wikipedia as a source for something.:) Funny... Scientists used to think the Sun revolved around the Earth... I firmly believe Mantle broke the laws of physics;) Besides, that physics of baseball book is on it's third edition. So obviously they're making new discoveries all the time... Don't discount The Mick;)

posted by Drood at 07:02 PM on August 18, 2006

You mention physicists, then cite Wikipedia as a source for something.:) Funny My Internet must be broken. What's funny now?

posted by yerfatma at 07:35 PM on August 18, 2006

Grum: You mention physicists, then cite Wikipedia as a source for something.:) Funny... I cited the Wikipedia article because it's the first mention I found of the story when I slapped in some search terms for Google. It's almost impossible to cite/link specific news reports about the home run as it happened more than two years ago. However, if you feel that the anecdotal note in Wikipedia isn't enough, you can always read about the home run in the play-by-play for the specific game (August 10th, 2004). It was in the bottom of the 4th inning.

posted by grum@work at 07:36 PM on August 18, 2006

Well, I can't recall on the players like Mantel or even Jackson or Feilder. The guy I remember for power is Sammy Sosa. Not so much in the games but in Home Run Derbys. I remember when they where in Atlanta and he hit the ball into places that they didn't even have camera's! Even in games he had solid power to all fields and loved to hit the ball out to Waveland Ave. for those fans that where waiting out there.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 09:20 PM on August 18, 2006

Wikipedia is notorious for being wrong or inaccurate. Citing anything on Wikipedia lends no credibility to anything.

posted by Drood at 11:43 PM on August 18, 2006

Sure thing.

posted by yerfatma at 08:07 AM on August 19, 2006

Citing anything on Wikipedia lends no credibility to anything. It's as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica (but doesn't go out of date after printing) and better than the news (overreaction, hype and spin). The self-correcting nature of Wikipedia is what makes it a valuable resource in research. Yes, to cite ONLY Wikipedia as a source is foolhardy when discussing important or detailed matters. However, when referencing anecdotal information or using it as a starting point for further references (hence the citations at the bottom of most pages), it's pretty damn good, especially in matters of pop culture and sports (since it's often used as a summary for information found on other sites). Do you have a linkable reference site that you feel is more accurate than Wikipedia?

posted by grum@work at 10:54 AM on August 19, 2006

The self-correcting nature of Wikipedia is what makes it a valuable resource in research Yeah, like when a five year old tampers with 50 articles a day, changing names, dates, etc. Thats why its not a reliable source.

posted by Kendall at 05:13 PM on August 23, 2006

Can you point to an example of that happening? The potential power isn't that a 5 year old can edit any page, it's that there are potentially hundreds of people subscribed to the RSS feed of changes for that page who will come correct. Yes Wikipedia makes us question what is true and yes there's the theoretical instance of someone checking the page after your hypothetical kid and before my hypothetical correction, but that's insignificant in the long run. It ain't perfect, but it's always on, free, updated more often and doesn't suck up space in the den. I suppose it comes down to which side of Cathedral and the Bazaar you fall on and whether you believe "with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow", but I do buy into that.

posted by yerfatma at 05:56 PM on August 23, 2006

See what I mean? How else would I have just learned all about this without Wikipedia? It may not be the best resource for accurate info on Ann Coulter or something topical/ which causes heated debate, but it's handy to give background.

posted by yerfatma at 06:14 PM on August 23, 2006

Wikipedia has its perks, but at times isnt reliable. Thats the only thing that I am trying to say. At schools, listing wikipedia as a source is stricty forbidden. I realize that writting a collegiate paper is much different than making a comment on this site, but making a comment like "Wikipedia is as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannica" is definately stretching it. For the point that was made, Wikipedia is alright, but surely there are hundreds of better sites of the same nature.

posted by Kendall at 09:19 PM on August 23, 2006

making a comment like "Wikipedia is as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannica" is definately stretching it True. Except grum backed it with a citation, like any good resource would do. You've made a number of claims but have yet to provide anything more than second-hand chatter.

posted by yerfatma at 06:07 AM on August 24, 2006

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