Blanchard stretches HR streak to 4, Yanks win

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July 26, 1961 – Johnny Blanchard homered twice and Mickey Mantle and Clete Boyer also went yard as the Yankees beat the White Sox 5-2 in the Bronx.

Blanchard, below, who pinch-hit a pair of home runs in the ninth inning in Boston but sat out the last three games, stretched his home run streak to four with blasts in the first and fourth innings against Chicago starter Ray Herbert. Bidding for the MLB record five home runs in successive at-bats, Blanchard hit a long drive to right in the sixth that Chicago outfielder Floyd Robinson caught right up against the short fence.

“Who am I to break records?’ the reserve catcher grinned, looking over to Mantle and Roger Maris. “Record breaking is for others.

Mantle’s home 61yankees86run, which gave the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead in the first, was his 39th of the season, one behind  Maris. Maris is 23 games ahead of Babe Ruth’s pace and Mantle 21.

In the photo above, the two sluggers, Mantle at left, display 79 for combined home runs. to date. Ruth and Lou Gehrig hold the record with 107. In 1960, Mantle led the AL with 40 and Maris had 39.

Third baseman Clete Boyer also homered in the fourth for the Yankees, his ninth HR of the season and third in the last two games.

Outside of a two-run single by JC Martin in the seventh, Rollie Sheldon (7-3) kept the ChiSox at bay, limiting them to four hits. Herbert (9-7) was tagged with the loss.

That day, the New York Times reported: “Thirty-four years ago today, a Yankee home run derby was in progress that was every bit as hot as that between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle…Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were the principals. After the Yankees beat the Browns in a doubleheader on July 26, the home run standing was Ruth 33, Gehrig 32.”

There was some overt rooting against Maris going on, from commissioner Ford Frick to old timers like Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby and Nap Lajoie, who said Maris “couldn’t carry Ruth’s jock.”

And most Yankee fans were cheering for Mantle, the established Yankee superstar, over Maris, the new pinstripe hero. That led to some booing for Maris, which prompted Mantle to say, “Hey Rog, thanks for taking my fans away.”

Box score

BASEBALL IS BACK: And the SportsLifer will continue to provide day-by-day updates on the 1961 New York Yankees as the M&M Boys try and chase down the Babe. Play ball!


Pizzaro stops Yankees despite Mantle homer

July 14, 1961 – Left-hander Juan Pizzaro pitched and batted the White Sox to a 6-1 win over the Yankees at Comiskey Park.

61yankees76Pizzaro (5-3) went the distance, striking out eight Yankees and allowing seven hits. And he doubled in a pair of runs in the sixth to put the Pale Hose up 6-0 and drive Rollie Sheldon (6-3) from the box.

Mickey Mantle spoiled Pizzaro’s shutout bid in the eighth with a long homer to left. Mantle now has 31 homers on the season, five ahead of Babe Ruth’s record 60 home run 1927 pace.

The White Sox snapped Sheldon’s scoreless streak at 27 2/3 innings in the fourth. JC Martin singled in one run, and Chicago added two more on a pair of wild pitches.

Box score

 

 

BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!


M&M go back-to-back, Yanks beat Chisox 6-2

July 13, 1961 – Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle kicked off the second half of the season with back-to-back home runs in the first inning against Early Wynn and the Yankees went on to a 6-2 win over the White Sox at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

61yankees75For the ninth time this year Maris, right, and Mantle, left, have homered in the same game, for the second time back-to-back.

Yogi Berra thinks that may have been the first time he uttered the famous Yogism “It’s deja vu all over again.”

Maris now has 34 home runs on the season and Mantle 30. Maris is 14 games ahead of Babe Ruth’s record 60 HR pace in 1927 and Mantle is even with the Babe through 84 games.

Bobby Richardson opened the game with a single, and one out later Maris reached the upper deck in right. Mantle followed with another upper deck shot, this one to center, the 350th home run of his career.

Clete Boyer later singled in the fourth run of the inning.

The White Sox cut the Yankee lead to 4-2 in the fifth when catcher Sherm Lollar and pitcher Frank Baumann hit back-to-back homers against Bill Stafford.

But the Yanks added some insurance in the ninth when Tony Kubek doubled and Mantle singled for a 6-2 lead.

Stafford (8-4) went six innings for the win, and Luis Arroyo pitched three innings of one one-hit relief for his 19th save. Wynn (7-2), gunning for the 292th win of his career, was the loser.

The Yankees moved back into a first place tie with the Detroit Tigers.

Box score

BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!


Baseball takes a break for first All-Star Game

July 10, 1961 – MLB takes a three-day break for the first All Star Game, which will be played tomorrow at Candlestick Park.in San Francisco.

The Yankees will return to action on Thursday, July 13, when they face the White Sox in Chicago.

BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!


Maris, Howard spark Yankees in 10-1 win

June 4, 1961 – Roger Maris homered for the third straight day in Chicago and Elston Howard had three hits and three RBIs as the Yankees trounced the White Sox 10-1 in a Sunday afternoon game.

61yankees40Maris hit a long home run to right to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead in the third. After a slow start, Maris has taken over the American League lead from teammate Mickey Mantle. Maris has 15 HRs – including six in the last six games —  and Mantle 14.

Howard hit a bases-clearing double to cap a four-run first inning and knock White Sox starter Billy Pierce out of the box. Three walks and a costly error by shortstop Luis Aparicio fueled the deluge.

The Yankees scored four more times in the fourth. A run-scoring grounder by Clete Boyer, two-run single by Tony Kubek and a run-scoring single by Mickey Mantle made it 9-0.

In all, the White Sox made five errors, which led to six unearned runs. Wes Covington produced the only Chicago run with a home run in the eighth.

Yankee right-hander Bill Stafford (2-2) went the distance for the victory. Pierce (1-5) took the loss.

Box score

BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!


Sievers’ blast lifts ChiSox past Yankees in 13

June 3, 1961 – Roy Sievers hit the first pitch Art Ditmar threw deep into the left field seats at Comiskey Park, ending a wild game and giving the White Sox a 6-5 win over the Yankees in 13 innings.

1961yankees39Yankee starter Ralph Terry and his counterpart Bob Shaw were locked in a scoreless duel for five innings before the Bombers broke through in the sixth.

The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Clete Boyer and an error by right fielder Wes Covington. Chicago came right back to tie in the home half of the inning on a groundout by Nellie Fox and a single by Covington.

In the eighth inning Boyer walked, Tony Kubek doubled and Roger Maris hit his 14th home run of the year, a long shot to right that gave the Yankees a 5-2 lead. The homer brought Maris even with teammate Mickey Mantle for the first time this year.

Again the White Sox came back. Sherm Lollar led off the last of the eighth with a single and Floyd Robinson’s home run brought Chicago to within 5-4 and knocked out Terry. After Tex Clevenger gave up singles to Luis Aparicio and Fox, Minnie Minoso drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly to center against Luis Arroyo.

Arroyo threw four 2/3 scoreless innings before Ditmar came on in the 13th and Sievers, shown above, sent the crowd home happy one pitch later.

Warren Hacker (1-0) got the win, and Ditmar (2-3) took the loss.

PS – Roy Sievers had a 17-year career, and played for the St. Louis Browns, original Washington Senators, White Sox and Phillies. He hit 318 career home runs, and in 1957 the first baseman/left fielder led the AL with 42 homers and 114 RBIs while playing for the Senators. That year, Sievers was third in the MVP race.

Box score

BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!


Ford handles White Sox 6-2; Yogi belts pair

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June 2, 1961 – Whitey Ford got back on the winning track with a complete game effort and Yogi Berra hit a pair of home runs to give the Yankees a 6-2 win over the White Sox at Comiskey Park.

Al Smith homered off Ford, above left, in the first inning to put Chicago on top 2-0. But Berra, above right, homered in the second to make it 2-1 White Sox.

After a Tony Kubek sacrifice fly tied the score in third third, Roger Maris hit a two-run shot to right field to make it  4-2.

Berra belted his second homer of the game and eight of the season to put the Yankees up 5-2 in the fourth. Elston Howard singled home the final run of the game in the sixth,

Ford (7-2) went the route, allowing seven hits, walking two and fanning three. Cal McLish (3-6) was the loser.

PS – Today marks the 20th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s death, June 2, 1941. He was just 38 years old when he died.

Box score

BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!


Yankees split doubleheader with White Sox

May 28, 1961 – On this Sunday the sun was shining following two days of rain. My Dad took me to see his boyhood friend, Father Jack McCormick, a Jesuit priest who would have a big influence on my choice of a Jesuit college in the years to come.

“I’ll bet you know all the Yankee averages,” said Father Jack. “What’s Tony Kubek hitting?”

“He’s hitting .297,” this 10-year-old replied.

“And what about Moose Skowron, he’s one of your favorites. What’s his batting average,” asked Father Jack.

“Skowron is at .268,” I said.1961yankees35

Of course, the conversation turned to Maris and Mantle.

“Mickey started out hot and has 10 home runs,” I said. “But Roger is getting hot. He now has eight.”

That day we watched part of the Yankee doubleheader and saw Maris hit his ninth of the season.

Maris homered in the second game and the Yankees rebounded from an early deficit to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, earning a split before 44,435 fans.at Yankee Stadium,

In the opener, the White Sox scored eight runs in the final two innings to beat the Yankees 14-9

In the nightcap, following a solo shot by Maris in the second, Wes Covington and Roy Sievers homered in the third inning to give the Pale Hose a 3-1 lead.

The Yankees pieced together four straight hits in the bottom of the third to even the score at 3-3. A double by Jesse Gonder and singles by Tony Kubek, Clete Boyer and Johnny Blanchard sparked the counter-attack.

Bill Skowron lined a tie-breaking single to right in the fourth to give the Yankees the lead, and Bobby Richardson followed with an RBI grounder.

Jim Coates (5-2) allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings in relief of Art Ditmar, who was once again ineffective.

In the opener, Nellie Fox, 1959 AL MVP, singled home the go-ahead run to give Chicago a 10-9 lead, capping a four-run eighth inning. Bob Roselli hit a two-run single to tie the score before Fox gave the Sox the lead.

Floyd Robinson launched a three-run homer in the ninth to make the score 14-9.

Covington blasted a grand slam in the third inning as the White Sox rolled to a 6-0 lead, before the Yankees scored six runs in the sixth inning to tie the score.

Yogi Berra and Bill Skowron started the uprising with RBI singles before pinch-hitter Bob Cerv hit a grand slam to left-center field against Chicago starter Early Wynn to knot the score at 6-6.

Berra and Skowron did damage again in the seventh with back-to-back home runs to put the Yankees ahead 9-6.

But the Yankee bullpen couldn’t stand prosperity as the White Sox rallied for the win. Luis Arroyo (1-2) was the loser. Turk Lown (2-2) got the win for Chicago, and Billy Pierce picked up the save.

Box score, 1st game

Box score, 2nd game

BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!


Eddie Collins: The Pride of Dutchess County

Barely a man survives who saw the great Eddie Collins play ball. One of the great second basemen in baseball history, Collins was part of the original class inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1939.

There’s a section of the Sports Museum of Dutchess County devoted to Eddie Collins, the greatest athlete ever born in this bucolic county in the Mid-Hudson Valley, situated less than 75 miles from Times Square. Collins, born in 1887,  was a native of Millerton, a small, rail town in the Harlem Valley, in the northeast part of the county.

Here are 10 things about the great Collins you may not know:

1. Collins father John was a railroad freight agent. When little Eddie was eight months old, the family moved to Tarrytown, 30 miles north of New York City. There Collins attended the Irving School.

2. Eddie Collins (like Lou Gehrig after him) attended Columbia University, where as a 135-pound, 16-year-old he quarterbacked the football team and was the starting shortstop for the baseball team.

3. While still at Columbia, Collins made his major league debut with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1906, and reached Big Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox for a bunt single in his first at bat.

4. Collins became the regular second baseman for the A’s in 1908. He was an everyday player for the next two decades, with the A’s and later the White Sox. In 1914, he won the Chalmers Award, a precursor of the MVP. was the American League’s MVP. That year Collins hit .344 and scored 122 runs to lead the league.

5. Nearly 100 years ago, on September 11, 1912, Collins became the first player in the 20th Century to steal six bases in a single game. Exactly 11 days later he did it again. That mark has since been equalled by several players, most recently  by Carl Crawford of Tampa Bay against the Red Sox in 2009, but never broken.

6. Collins played on four World Series winners (A’s in 1910-11-13 and White Sox in 1917), and was a stalwart post-season performance. Three times in six World Series he hit better than .400, and finished with a .328 lifetime average in post-season play.

7. Collins was one of the clean members of the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” team that threw the World Series to Cincinnati. “Sure, I heard that the fix was on, but I looked on it as just idle gossip and completely preposterous,” said Collins afterward.

8. Collins played his last game at age 43 on August 2, 1930. He finished his career with a .333 lifetime batting average, 3,315 hits (ninth all time), 1821 runs and 745 stolen bases, which is the seventh highest total of steals lifetime. He has the fewest home runs, just 47, of any member of the 3,000 hit club.

9. Collins joined the Red Sox as vice president and general manager when fellow Irving Schooler Tom Yawkey purchased the team in 1933. Sadly, he is perhaps best remembered for his no-show decision in 1945, when Jackie Robinson and two other Negro Leaguers tried out for Boston. That decision resulted in the Red Sox becoming the last team to integrate.

10. A devout religious man, Collins passed away on Easter Sunday, 1951, at age 63. Survived by his wife and two sons, he was buried in Linwood Cemetery in Weston, Massachusetts.


My First Baseball Game


Fifty years ago, August 23, 1958, I saw my very first baseball game.

I still remember it like it was yesterday. A seven-year-old kid, walking into Yankee Stadium with my Dad and seeing the immense ballfield, the green facade, the monuments in center field. The pinstriped legends on the field.

That Saturday afternoon, the Chicago White Sox beat the Yankees, 7-1, as Billy Pierce bested Whitey Ford in a battle of southpaws.

Six future Hall of Famers played in that game — Ford, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Enos Slaughter for the Yankees and Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio for the ChiSox.

Ray Boone hit a solo home run and knocked in four runs for Chicago. Moose Skowron homered in the seventh for the only Yankee run.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

PS — Exactly 10 years later, August 23, 1968, I saw 28 innings of baseball at the Stadium. The Yankees won the first game of the twi-night doubleheader, 2-1; the two teams played to a 3-3, 19-inning tie in the nightcap.