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The Day The Tigers Gave Mickey Mantle A Gold Watch Home Run

Illustration for article titled The Day The Tigers Gave Mickey Mantle A Gold Watch Home Run

Of all the allegations levied in Selena Roberts' A-Rod book, the "pitch-tipping" ones seem to really be aggravating baseball's outspoken virgin snow committee. Here's a pitch-tipping story that won't turn your stomach.


Tigers' television broadcaster Jim Price was catching for Detroit on Sept. 19, 1968 when he and pitcher Denny McClain made a conscious decision to pay tribute to Mickey Mantle during his last season. Price recalled that it was an innocent gesture, one that was most likely not going to affect the outcome of the game, but they absolutely 100% let Mantle know where the next pitch was coming in order to help the Yankee legend pass Jimmie Foxx on the all-time home run list:

"When I got there, Denny said, ‘Hey, big guy, should I let him hit one?' " Price recalled Thursday night in a telephone interview. "I said it was a great idea. Mickey was always nice to me. So I went back behind the plate and Mickey, like he always did, was tapping the plate with his bat when I said, ‘Want us to groove one for you?' "

Mantle apparently didn't believe Price, but when he saw McLain nodding on the mound, he understood what was going on.

"High and tight, mediocre cheese," Price said Mantle responded.

Mantle only hit one more home run in his career after that, so he eventually would have passed Foxx anyway. And given how many home runs Mantle probably hit with a banged-up body and booze-weary head, he was entitled to one or two freebies.


The Day The Tigers Tipped Pitches For The Mick [NYT]

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