With all the launch angle (bleep) and exit velo (bleep) we are in the Era of the Home Run Derby. Some say the baseballs are harder these days or maybe it’s just the bats have more kick.
Nonetheless when a slugger drives a Rawlings 450 feet into the upper deck there are Multiple Orgasms in the broadcast booth. But no one ever Jumped the Yard farther than the ineffable Mickey Mantle.
Mantle makes the current boppers look like anemic Punch and Judy singles hitters. The Mick never heard of launch angle. But he was the ultimate Jack Hammer.
The Mick’s 600-Foot Rocket Shots
So you think Christian Yelich and Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger are blasting King Kong jacks?
Compared to Mickey Mantle they’re short about 200 feet.
Mantle is the greatest power hitter of all time. No one even comes close to the soaring, long range rocket shots he hammered from either side of the plate. Some of them still haven’t landed. He makes today’s Home Run Derby icons look like they’re bunting for a base hit.
How far did Mantle muscle his eruptions to jump the yard? Obviously, they didn’t have the high tech of this age so sometimes we have to trust eye ball estimates. But there were wrecking crew atomic blasts that could be easily measured. By all accounts his top 10 were as impressive as Mr. Olympia. The shortest is 530 feet.
And the longest was astronomical, measured at 734 feet.
Impossible? Maybe. But…
Roger Maris and Mantle. Take a look at Mickey’s forearms. Sheer power.
No one ever hit a ball out of the Old Yankee Stadium. But Mantle crushed the façade at the top of the roof three times.
In 1956 he blitzed a Pedro Ramos fastball. It left the field at the 370 mark and came within inches of exiting the stadium. Now get this. The façade was 117 feet high. That sonic explosion was 39 yards above terra firma when it collided with wood. You don’t need to be an MIT grad to figure out it would have travelled well over 600 feet if it hadn’t gotten into an argument with the facade.
For reference, take a look at the nearest high rise. And I mean HIGH rise. Count 12 storeys up. That’s where Mantle’s towering blitzkrieg caromed off the top of the stadium roof after already soaring 370 feet.
The 734 shot off Bill Fischer in 1963? It also rammed the sky high façade, again only a few inches from freedom. And, for what it’s worth, there were multiple fans who swore it was still going UP when its flight was interrupted. Some Neanderthal math wiz calculated it’s trajectory would have carried it well over 700 feet into the wild blue yonder.
That sounds as apocryphal as Big Foot but the story somehow makes it seem plausible and Mantle called it, “The hardest ball I ever hit.”
And here are two of Mantle’s most memorable jacks that were measured for austerity.
In a 1951 spring training game at USC he ripped a massive drive that not only left the ball park it also cleared the adjacent football field. It finally landed on the far sideline, 656 feet from the batter’s box, before hopping the fence bordering the field. And Boy Wonder Mantle, the Yankees answer to Ruth and Dimaggio, was still only 19 years old.
Mike Trout goes fishing. (Boy, is that line lame)
That was one of six of The Mick’s cannonades estimated at more than 600 feet, including a ballistic blast that rocketed out of Tiger Stadium and bombarded a lumberyard across the street, 643 feet from the plate.
There are also a horde of observers, including many players, who swore The Mick’s missiles left Yankee Stadium at least three times during batting practice.
Yes, I know, they didn’t have the computer software we have today. But if you’re a physics major punch in the numbers.
Over the wall at the 370 mark and still rising faster than a NASA space ship.
Jumping the yard 117 feet in the air.
Exit speed at least 120 mph
500 feet? Easy.
600 feet? Odds on.
700 feet? We’ll never know. But for Mantle it even seems possible.