Reporters gathered around him afterward, and Mantle handled them easily. "I tell you that was the most surprised I've been all season," he said. "If I'da missed it, I woulda been on first anyway. The catcher couldn'ta caught it." Later Mantle cut his cheek shaving, and Gus Mauch, the Yankee trainer, had to be summoned to stop the bleeding.
"Gillette?" someone asked.
On the third day the mayor of Fargo appeared at the ballpark to present Maris with a "certificate of appreciation for your loyalty and devotion to your hometown of Fargo." (Maris was born in Hibbing, Minn., and lives in Raytown, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., but he did spend his boyhood in Fargo and play American Legion baseball there.) Mantle hit number 48 in the fourth inning. Maris did nothing.
The Yankees Hew to New York, where they settled the pennant race by sweeping a three-game series from Detroit. They beat Don Mossi 1-0 in the first game on Bill Skowron's single in the ninth inning. Maris and Mantle were hitless, but still they attracted the largest crowds in the clubhouse.
"Mossi had good stuff," Mantle said of his own effort.
"When you're going lousy, you're lousy," Maris said of his.
The next day Maris hit two home runs, his 52nd and 53rd, but Mantle pulled a muscle checking a swing. "I'll take you out," Houk told Mantle on the bench. "I'll help," Mantle said. "I'll bunt. I'll field. I'll get on." Mantle stayed in the lineup, and a day later he hit two, his 49th and his 50th. The Tigers never recovered, and now, with the Yankees all but certain to win the pennant, fans, reporters and photographers turned all their attention to Maris and Mantle. Newspapers started guessing games, with cash prizes for those who forecast how many homers the two would hit. A stripper, playing a minor burlesque circuit, adopted the name of Mickey Maris. A Japanese sports editor sent a list of 18 questions to the Associated Press in New York, requesting that Maris and Mantle answer all of them.
After hearing five or six, Maris said to the AP reporter, "This is driving me nuts."
"That's my next question," the reporter shouted. "They want to know how you're reacting to all this."