Today is the anniversary of the May 30, 1956 homer that Mickey Mantle hit off Pedro Ramos in the first game of a Memorial Day doubleheader against the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins). It was his 19th homer of the season but it was his location that was the most significant. According to the New York Times the next day, a check of the Stadium’s blueprint indicated that the ball hit a point 370 feet away 117 feet above the ground, just 18 inches from leaving the ballpark, hitting off the roof’s facade. Mantle said, “it was the best I ever hit a ball left-handed.”
In the second game of the doubleheader, also won by the Yankees, Mantle became the first player in MLB history to hit 20 home runs by the end of May. It was his 16th homer of the month and put him, at the time, 17 games ahead of Babe Ruth‘s pace when the Bambino hit a record 60 homers in 1927. Mantle finished the season winning the Triple Crown and hitting 52 homers.
That same NY Times article attests to Mantle’s amazing versatility when it pointed out that, “Mantle also contributed a nifty third strike drag bunt single, a right-handed line single, a stolen base and a rifle throw in the first game and drew a pass in the second game.”
Mantle was asked after his 1956 Triple Crown season at the New York Baseball Writers Dinner, at which it was announced that Mantle had signed for the next season for $58,000, if he ever thought he could hit a ball out of the Stadium, Mantle said, “I didn’t think I could come close until I hit the one last year.”
Mantle, who came closest to being the only player to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium, described his near-historic shots: “I hit the facade twice, the first off Pedro Ramos. I hit the second off Bill Fischer, and hit it so hard it bounced back to second base. If it had gone another foot, it would have gone over.
I would have loved to have seen the damage that the Mick would have done to some of today’s modern ballparks. Check out the black square on the scoreboard after Pawtucket Red Sox slugger Lars Anderson slammed this homer: