Bryce Harper follows in Mickey Mantle’s non-hustling footsteps


(Alex Brandon/AP)

Proving yet again that everything old is one day new again, let me direct your attention to the below New York Daily News Service account of a 1960 doubleheader between the Senators and Yankees in the Bronx.

Mickey Mantle — the man Bryce Harper has said he idolizes more than any other MLB great – was benched in — you guessed it — the bottom of the sixth, for — you guessed it — not running out a groundball. He had been warned multiple times by his manager, and the possibility of a leg malady was deemed not an acceptable excuse. Neither was the close score a factor in the decision; and indeed, the home team eventually suffered a narrow loss. Next thing you’ll tell me, Kilgore was in the press box.

Please read:

NEW YORK, Aug. 14 — Furious over Mickey Mantle’s failure to hustle down the first base line on a double play grounder, Casey Stengel jerked his longtime star from the midst of the second game today, and unleashed a post-game tirade about The Mick to newsmen.

“Who the hell does he think he is?” snapped the angered Yankee manager. “Some superman or something like that? He’s been told about that thing five or six times; if he don’t run the ball out, he can’t play here.”

The words were gushing in quicker-than-usual Stengel temper. “Unless he has a bad leg,” Case continued, “and if he has, he should tell me and I’ll take him out of the lineup.”

Stengel was asked if any further action against Mantle can be expected.

“I don’t know what he’ll do,” said Stengel, who wasn’t quite mad enough to speak clearly.

Some two hours earlier, Mantle had been given the public chastising hook in the sixth inning. He had grounded into a double play to end the Yankee half, and had jogged down the first base line. So upset was Stengel that he did not allow the 1-1 secore at the time, nor the obvious value of slugger Mantle in such a tight game, effect his actions. He told Mick he was through for the day.

It was presumed by newsmen as well as fans at the time that Mantle’s chronically injured knee had acted up again, but Mickey eliminated that possibility when questioned later.

“Are you hurting?” he was asked.

“No.”

“Then why did you leave the game?”

A shrug.

“Was it your idea or his?”

“It must have been his,” said Mick with a smile. “It sure wasn’t mine.”

For some reason, the New York Times made the incident just a footnote in its lengthy double-game story.

“I took him out because he didn’t run and I’m tired of seeing him not run,” the Times quoted Stengel as saying. “If he can’t run, he should tell me.”

(Via a reader of the Boz Chat)

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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