Mickey Mantle's famous 600-foot homer at USC may have been debunked
Mickey Mantle hit many home runs during his career -- 536 to be exact. And most of them were absolutely crushed. There's the 565-footer at Griffith Stadium or the prodigious blasts off the tops of the old Yankee Stadium facade.
But one of the longest-rumored dingers he ever dinger'd was as a 19-year-old during an exhibition match against USC. It actually took place on this day, 67 years ago. Mantle hit two long balls that game -- hoping to take the center-field job from an aging Joe DiMaggio -- and the first was said to have gone somewhere between 550-660 feet.
The ball reportedly traveled the 344 feet to right-center field and then kept going until it hit the middle of the football practice fields. Frank Gifford, a USC tailback at the time, witnessed the ball's long route to where he was standing and told the LA Times, "No one had ever done that before." The assumption was that the ball went at least 550 feet. Some diagrams even had it going OVER the football field.
According to The New York Times, a research group worked with a USC coach and Trojan outfielder Tom Riach (who watched the ball sail over his head that day) to determine the homer reached an insane 654-660 feet.
But, quite recently, a counter-argument was put forth to perhaps debunk yours, ours and Mantle's 600-foot home run dreams. It came from USC's starting pitcher that day, Tom Lovrich, who, you know, probably had as good an idea as anybody on how far a ball may have been hit off of him. Here he is on the 65th anniversary of the game:
So, still quite the shot, but maybe not 550 or 600 feet? Either way, it's a fun story. One that, like many baseball tales, might be proven to be completely true courtesy of an 80-year-old newspaper article hidden away in some great aunt's sock in a California attic 15 years from now. Until then, we can only wait and watch and wonder with some of The Mick's other stadium-clearing swings: