On this date October 6, 69 years ago Mickey Mantle came to the plate against Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Billy Loes in the eighth inning of game 6 of the 1952 World Series. Brooklyn was ahead 3 games to 2 in the series but the Yanks held a precarious 2-1 lead in game 6. New York was amid a dominant streak having won the last three World Series and four out of the last five. They had the Dodgers’ number beating Brooklyn in their three previous meetings in, ‘41, ’47 and ’49. So Brooklyn was out for revenge. They needed to hold the hated Yankees at bay in the eighth and ninth so the powerful Brooklyn lineup could secure a victory and end the Yankee dominance.
As Mantle stepped to the plate, he was a twenty-year-old phenom who had taken over centerfield from the revered Joe DiMaggio who had retired at the end of 1951. This was Mickey’s second World Series. His first, the previous year, ended tragically in the fifth inning of game 2 when Willie Mays hit a fly to right centerfield. Mantle, who was playing right, charged over for the ball but pulled up when DiMaggio called him off. Mantle’s foot got caught in a drainage ditch and his knee buckled. He left the game and did not return for the rest of the series. It was the beginning of a string of leg injuries that would hamper the Mick’s career. All this was in the past as Mantle dug in from the left side and blasted a Loes pitch over the wall to give the Yanks a 3-1.
Mantle’s first World Series homer turned out to be the deciding run in game 6 as Dodger slugger Duke Snider homered in the bottom of the eighth. New York held on for a 3-2 win knotting the series at 3-3.
In game 7 the young Mickey Mantle once again had the deciding blow when he hit a solo shot in the top of the sixth against Joe Black giving the Yanks a 3-2 lead. New York held on to win 4-2 thanks to miraculous catch by Billy Martin on a short pop up by Jackie Robinson. It was the fourth World Championship in a row for the Bronx Bombers.
Mantle was the unquestioned hitting star of the series batting .345 with two homers, five runs scored, three RBI and a .655 slugging percentage.
I was only two months old at the time so I could only read about the Mick’s early exploits. But like so many others I would soon become a devoted Mickey Mantle fan and enjoyed watching his storied career which included 16 more World Series homers for record of 18 which still stands today.