"Look," he said, "I'm going to give you the whole story right now. He didn't hit a home run. He did hit one single, broke one bat and cussed out one fan. That's it." Then he began untying his shoelaces furiously.
Mantle was taking his disappointment with grace. He had needed a big day, two or three home runs, to have a chance at the record. Now, with 53, he needed eight more in the five games remaining in the 154-game limit set by Ford Frick.
"I'm out of it," he said.
" Willie Mays hit four in one game this year," a reporter said.
"O.K.," Mantle said. "If I hit four tomorrow, I'm back in it. But Lary's pitching tomorrow and he doesn't throw underhand."
Frank Lary did pitch for Detroit the next day. "I hope Maris breaks Ruth's record," he had said the day before. "That would shut up some of those oldtimers who think we can't play the game as well as they did."
In the first inning Lary walked Maris on four straight pitches. Although Lary has beaten the Yankees for Detroit many times over the years and although he has won 20 games this year, the large crowd exploded with boos.
The next time Maris came to bat, it was the third inning and there were two out with a runner on first. Lary threw another ball, his fifth straight, and again the boos began. Maris smoothed the dirt around the plate, took his stance and waited. Lary threw again, a fast ball, and this time Maris swung. There was a loud, rich crack and the ball rose up and out toward right field. Al Kaline, Tiger right-fielder, took one step back and then turned to watch. The ball hit the green facade a few feet below the roof of the stadium and bounded back on the field. Kaline picked it up and threw it toward the Yankee dugout, a souvenir for Maris of his 57th home run of the season.
After the game the Yankee dressing room was cheerful again, even though the team had lost. Reporters surrounded Maris. On the other side of the room Ralph Terry watched the scene. "You know," he said, "someday I'm going to be telling everybody that I was on the same team with that guy. It'll really be something to talk about."
On Sunday the Tiger pitcher was Jim Bunning, who had said, ominously, that Maris would not hit any home runs off him. The Bunning method was simple: he walked Maris twice. But in the 12th, against Relief Pitcher Terry Fox, Maris hit his 58th, and the Yankees won 6-4.