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  • Writer's picture John Bacchia

1961 World Series, Game 4: Home plate umpire Augie Donatelli

Updated: Jan 11

NBC Broadcast Clip from Game 4 of the 1961 World Series between the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds at Crosely Field in Cincinnati. (Announcers: Mel Allen and Joe Garagiola)

Pat Donatelli shared a randomly discovered YouTube link from the 1961 World Series. His late father, Augie Donatelli, was the home plate umpire, and the footage helped him reminisce. "My brother David and I just got a kick watching our dad in his prime during a big game. It helped me recall his mannerisms and the way he positioned himself so low to call balls and strikes." As I watched the short clip it occurred to me that I was also personally familiar with the two network voices: Mel Allen and Joe Garagiola. I had worked with both men through the years, especially Allen, whom I worked with as a staff writer on "This Week in Baseball" radio and TV back in the 1980s & early 1990s. And, of course, I spent much time with Augie while writing his biography. The above video showcases Mickey Mantle's 4th inning at-bat against 19 game winner Jim O'Toole, Mantle was battling a hip injury when he stepped to the plate. Mel, who was known as the Voice of the Yankees for many decades, was well aware of the fact that Mantle was playing with the injury. At the end of the short clip Mickey exits the game and slowly descended the dugout steps. One written description indicated that his uniform was "blood soaked" due to an abscess of his right hip. As you might recall 1961 was also the year Mantle and Roger Marris, the M&M boys competed to break Babe Ruth's single season home mark of 60. Mantle's pursuit of the record was also curtailed by this same injury. The abscess was caused from an injection that was supposed to help cure him of the flu. According to the 2011 Mantle biography "The Last Boy," by author Jane Leavy, Mel had recommended the doctor to Mickey.

It was Yankee legend Whitey Ford who started Game 4 of the 1961 Series, he left with an ankle injury after the fifth inning, with a 2-0 lead and a streak of 32 straight scoreless World Series innings. In the third inning, Whitey passed the previously mentioned, George Herman "Babe" Ruth. Ruth had pitched twenty-nine and two-thirds (29.2) consecutive scoreless innings for the Boston in 1916 and 1918. Ford's replacement, Jim Coates, was just as good, allowing just one hit over the next four innings, the Yankees winning 7-0.

The Yankees won the 1961 Series in five games to earn their 19th championship in 39 campaigns, and Ford was named the MVP of the Series having won two games while throwing 14 scoreless. Thanks to Pat Donatelli for triggering all of these sidebar tales of baseball history.

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