The circumstances surrounding Alex Rodriguez passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list this week has likely left a sour taste in the mouths of even the most die-hard A-Rod fans. Whether you agree with the Yankees' decision to withhold his bonus money or not, there's no arguing that the bitterness between the two parties won't end anytime soon. In order to cleanse the palate, let's take a stroll down memory lane and re-visit a far less controversial home run milestone in Yankees history. One that has a little more meaning this weekend as it happened on Mother's Day nearly 50 years ago.
In 1967 the Yankees were a franchise very much in decline. After putting up the American League's worst record in 1966 they were faring no better a year later. The only reason to visit Yankee Stadium was to see what was left of aging superstar Mickey Mantle. At 35 he was slowing down considerably and was relegated to playing first base, but he was still very much a productive hitter. By Mother's Day he had been stuck on 499 career home runs for 11 days, so the 18,000 or so fans that showed up to the stadium that day were no doubt eager to see him become just the sixth member of the 500 home run club. When he stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning, Mantle made the pendants given out before the game a little more valuable.
In the middle of a dark period for the Yankees The Mick provided a welcome distraction and made the day a little more special for the moms in attendance, which is fitting. Personally, I know that my mom has played a huge role in cultivating my love for baseball, probably more than she's aware of. She drove my brother and I to hundreds of Little League games and many more practices throughout the 80's and 90's. As a result she endured countless hours of the lowest quality baseball you could imagine but never once complained about it. How? I don't know, but making baseball a positive experience for me no doubt helped me become the fan I am today, writing for a blog dedicated to a team I've rooted for since I was a kid. So while you're watching the Yankees take on the Orioles this weekend, be sure to thank all of the moms in your life. They help make the baseball world go-round.