Mickey puts one in orbit
APRIL 17, 1953 –
Imagine someone hitting a ball the length of almost two football fields! Sportswriters, and others who claim to know, believe 21-year old
Mickey Mantle did just that on this date in 1953. The prevailing distance of this mammoth blast was estimated at 565 feet out of old Griffiths Stadium in
Washington. It was believed to be the longest home run hit by anyone not named
Mantle wasn’t known as “The Mick” yet. At this stage of his career, he was an inconsistent ‘can miss’ switch-hitter from Commerce,
Yogi Berra had walked just before Mantle came to bat with two outs in the 5th. He was batting right-handed. On a 1 and 0 pitch, Mantle crushed a ball. According to those present, it not only cleared the regular fence, it sailed over a 55 foot wall 70 feet
behind the left center field fence! No one had ever done
that before. It hit off a scoreboard on top of the back wall, and sailed out of view. A ten-year old boy found it in a back yard 105 feet further back.
Baseball-Almanac.com is skeptical of the 565 foot estimate
(see link below). It believes the actual distance is more like 510 feet, still, an awesome display of power.
Almost overlooked in the same game were some of the all-around talents Mantle had early in his career. He dragged a bunt for a single and stole a base. Before a series of nagging injuries, and the toll of many nights on the town, Mantle was clocked at 3.1 seconds from the left-handed batter's box to first. One of the fastest times ever recorded.