-----------------------------------------------“There was a great, dark mystery about when I first came here from Oklahoma. Now I think this is about the prettiest ball park I ever saw." - Mickey Mantle
RALPH HOUK: I moved into the manager’s office in 1961, and the great clubhouse guy Pete Sheehy had everything ready for me. It had all I wanted: a room, a desk, a place to keep my records. Most of my memories of that office was bringing guys in and telling them things they didn’t want to hear.
I was usually down at one end of the Yankee dugout managing from a standing position with one leg up. I stood rather than sit on the bench. I was always moving.
JOHNNY BLANCHARD: Roger Maris had the locker next to mine. When he was popping those long ones out of the park, I had to get out of my own locker because 20, 30 writers would flock around him, and they would sift into my locker space. Roger was an introvert and did not like all the bright lights. That was what gave him the reputation of being nasty. But he was not.
SAL DURANTE: I was with my girlfriend Rosemarie who became my wife later on and my cousin and his girl. We were hanging out in Coney Island doing nothing. So I made a suggestion that we go to the last game at Yankee Stadium. I knew that Maris was going after the 61st home run. I knew about the promised $5,000 reward for the guy who caught the ball. I had read all about it in the News.
I was a Yankee fan as far back as I can remember although not really a Roger Maris fan. I was a Mickey Mantle fan and watched every Yankee game as I was growing up because of him.
We asked the ticket guy for four seats in right field. I never expected there would be any. The guy thumbed through tickets like a deck of playing cards, “Yeah, I’ve got four seats.”
I had no money. Rosemarie paid for the tickets. We were in Section 33, Box 163D , the sixth row of the right field lower deck. In those days you had six seats to a box. I was sitting in the row below Rosemarie with John and his girl Rose Marie was sitting by herself in Seat Four. I switched seats with her so she could talk to them. It was the smartest thing I did.
PHIL RIZZUTO (GAME CALL) WCBS radio:
They're standing, waiting to see if Maris is gonna hit Number Sixty-one. We've only got a handful of people sitting out in left field, but in right field, man, it's hogged out there. And they're standing up. Here's the windup, the pitch to Roger. Way outside, ball one...And the fans are starting to boo. Low, ball two. That one was in the dirt. And the boos get louder...Two balls, no strikes on Roger Maris. Here's the windup. Fastball, hit deep to right! This could be it!
SAL DURANTE: As soon as Maris the ball, I knew it was going to be a home run that would go over my head. I jumped up on my seat and reached as high as I could. The ball hit the palm of my hand. It didn’t hurt. It was a thing from heaven that knocked me over into the next row.
TRACY NIEPORENT: We were at the Stadium on May 14, 1967 when Mantle hit his 500th home run in the seventh inning of a game against Baltimore. As it turned out, he didn't have that many home runs left in him after that.
JOE GARAGIOLA: (GAME CALL, NBC) Three balls, two strikes. Mantle waits. Stu Miller is ready. Here’s the payoff pitch by Miller to mantle. Swung on! There she goes!. . . Mickey Mantle has hit his 500th home run . . .
BOB SHEPPARD: At one time Bob Fischel said to me: “I think it would be nice to recognize the boys and girls, the young people.” That was when I began saying: “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,” But I did it under force for a short time and then returned to saying just “Ladies and Gentlemen.”
FRANK RUSSO: My first game at Yankee Stadium was Thurman Munson's first game. August 8, 1969 . My dad was a huge Yankee fan and he read in the papers that their number one draft pick had been recalled from the minors. We went to the second game of a twi-night doubleheader against Oakland. We walked right up and my dad bought the seats, good seats behind the first base line.
Munson was definitely a confident guy. He had some swagger to him which was what I liked. He got his first major league hit against Catfish Hunter, another single and his first two RBIs in that game. We knew if the Yankees were going to get better in the 1970s, he would help lead the way.
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published September 1, 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.".
Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.