On This Date In History: May 1, 1951

On May 1, 1951, Mickey Mantle hit the first of his 536 career home runs.  The Yankees were facing the White Sox in an afternoon game at Comiskey Park.  The Yankees rookie started the game in right field and as the leadoff hitter.  The White Sox sent starter Bob Cain to the mound but the Yankees got to him and were leading the game 5 - 2 in the sixth inning.  That's when Randy Gumpert came in for the Sox to relieve Cain.  With Yankees pitcher Vic Raschi on second after doubling, Mantle stepped into the batter's box.  Gumpert threw Mantle a changeup, and years later, here's what Gumpert had to say about that moment:

"Mickey smacked the ball in dead center field right into the bullpen . . . it must have traveled 450 feet in the air!"


Randy Gumpert

Yankees back up catcher Charlie Silvera knew that the ball would be special to Mickey so he retrieved it and gave it to him after the game.  Mantle signed the ball with the following:

"My first H.R. in the Majors, May 1, 1951, 4:40 p.m. Chicago.  6th inning off Randy Gumpert"

Mantle cherished that ball for years, even displaying it in his Holiday Inn restaurant in Joplin, Missouri towards the end of his career.  In 2004 the ball sold at Sotheby's auction house for $189,750.

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