Take Us to Pittsburgh
On April 10, 1953, Mickey Mantle hit a home run over the 100 foot high grandstand wall at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Up until that time, only two players had ever done that, Babe Ruth and Ted Beard; but the greatest accomplishment that day may have been just getting to Forbes Field in the first place. On April 9, the Yankees were riding a train north playing exhibitions games. When they arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio, it was bitterly cold but they played anyway and, after the game, Whitey Ford, Billy Martin, and Mickey Mantle headed out on the town to have some fun before catching the train to Pittsburgh. They had to be back at the train station by 10 PM to ride all night and get to Pittsburgh the next day for batting practice. At 9:30 PM, Mantle started looking for the other two. They finally all hooked up at 11 PM, too late to catch the train. Mantle says, “To hell with it, let’s stay and catch a plane tomorrow in the morning.” So they get up at dawn and it’s snowing. They get to the airport an hour later and all the fights have been cancelled. So Ford says, “No problem, let’s take a cab.” Ford and Martin piled in the backseat as Mantle slides into the front seat and says to the cab driver, “Take us to Pittsburgh.” The cab driver says, “Get out of my cab; I hear that crap all the time.” Finally Mantle convinces him they are for real, so the cab driver calls his boss and says “What’s the charge to take these guys to Pittsburgh?” $500.00 is the answer, and off they go. Somehow they get to Forbes Field, and the team is already taking batting practice. Ford wasn’t pitching, so all he had to do was run in the outfield. Mickey and Billy are in the locker room trying to get their socks on as fast as they can and praying that Casey Stengel didn’t notice they weren’t on the train. Mantle is bent over tying his shoes and whispering to Billy out of the side of his mouth, when a hand is placed on his shoulder. Martin is nowhere to be found and Casey is standing there. He says, “I don’t know where you jerks have been and I don’t know what you have done, but I wanta know. You two are going to play the whole game,” and then Casey storms out. So Billy is hiding in the bathroom laughing and they go out to the field and batting practice is over. The first time Mantle comes to the plate he hits that long home run over the grandstand. “Nice hit Mickey,” says Casey. “Take the rest of the day off.” Martin is beside himself and ends up playing the entire game.