The most famous homer ever hit in Washington has gotten a lot of press lately. It was hit by a New York Yankee more than 50 years ago.
Mickey Mantle crushed a pitch from Senators hurler Chuck Stobbs over the left centerfield bleachers at Griffith Stadium in April 1953.
The ball completely left the stadium, and was later found in the yard of a house on Oakdale Place NW. Legend holds that Mantle’s shot had traveled 565 feet.
Despite time and the Dead Balls Era
Stobb’s death earlier this month brought the homer back in the news. And of all the pieces written, none was more fascinating than the one posted on the washingtonpost.com’s PostMortem blog by obituary writer Matt Schudel.
After the Post’s Stobb’s obit appeared, Schudel got a call at the paper from Donald Dunaway. Back in 1953, Dunaway was the 10-year-old kid who found Mantle’s homer on Oakdale Place.
The official story had long been that Yankees PR man Arthur “Red” Patterson had left the stadium after Mantle’s at-bat and brought it back after paying a local kid $1 for finding it.
Dunaway was that local kid, and his version, which I had never read before, is that he was the only person even looking for the ball, and that he brought it back to the stadium by himself, and for doing that he was paid $100 by the Yankees. Dunaway says he also was given another baseball.
Apparently, as much as has been written about the homer through the years, nobody had ever bothered locating the guy who really found it.
Kudos to Schudel for getting Dunaway’s tale out there. I want more!