Ah, October 1st, what a great day in Yankees’ history. Many things have happened on this day in history, so put down your pumpkin spiced lattes and take a trip down memory lane (okay you can bring your pumpkin spiced latte.)
The Sultan of Swat calls his shot
It was the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. The New York Yankees were playing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Babe Ruth was up to the plate, and before the pitch, had pointed to center field with his right hand (video confirms.) On the very next pitch, he smacked a home run to dead center field, which was his fifteenth and final postseason homer. The image of him pointing is one of baseball’s most famous, and the story of the eerie prediction will live on.
60 was once the most sacred number in baseball. Babe Ruth had set a Major League single season record of 60 home runs in 1927, arguably the best Yankees team ever. Ruth had set this record when the MLB schedule was only 154 games, instead on 162 it is today. In 1961, right fielder Roger Maris had come to the Yankees from the Cardinals when the schedule had already been lengthened. On October 1st, 1961, Maris hit his 61st home run of the season, during game 162. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the record, since Ruth had hit 60 in 154 games and Maris had only 59 in that span. The movie 61* highlights the struggles of Maris as he faced scrutiny from New York fans and baseball fans in general, including commissioner Ford Frick. Asterisk used or not, 61 home runs is still a great accomplishment. This day in Yankees’ history will also be remembered for what Maris did for the 1961 Yankees team, which showcased beloved Mickey Mantle in center field. The record has since been broken by three players, but the chase to 61 is a story that is attached to Yankees’ lore and will be for all eternity.
Joe DiMaggio, the “Yankee Clipper,” as they called him, was one of the best all around players in baseball history. On October 1st, 1932, he made his professional debut with the San Francisco Seals (eerily the same day Ruth called his shot). But On October 1st, 1949, the Yankees made this date “Joe DiMaggio Day” at Yankee Stadium. The day was epic, featuring two cars, a boat, three hundred quarts of ice cream, and why not, a Cocker Spaniel. All gifts to the man who still holds the longest hitting streak in baseball history at 56 games. It was then that DiMaggio uttered the famous phrase, “I want to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.” He paved the way in center field for Mickey Mantle to take his place; large shoes to fill, to say the least.