York Yankee Memories
by Alan Koch '56
I went to Yankee Stadium the first time in my life to see Alan pitch against the NY Yankees. He was not throwing a “dinky curve ball” or he would not have been the starting pitcher against the Yankees. Can you imagine how many boys would have loved to be starting in Yankee Stadium then or now? I remember it well because it was a day game and I had to plead with my boss [who was a very skeptical old guy] to take an afternoon off. Jim Rogers '60
Jim Roger's letter about watching me pitch in Yankee Stadium has reminded me of a funny story. In that game, as I remember, we (the Washington Senators) were ahead 2-1 in the fifth inning, and I hadn't given up a hit. (The Yankee run had scored on a couple of walks and then a couple of ground balls.) After two were out for the Yankees in the fifth, Bobby Richardson hits a little flyball into short center, and as was typical for our team, the second baseman, the shortstop, and the three outfielders just look at one another while the ball lands for the Yankee's first hit. I'm then a little upset and let either Tom Thresh or Tony Kubek (I've forgotten) hit a double. Now there are two outs, runners on second and third and Mickey Mantle is the hitter. I pitch carefully and the count goes to three balls and no strikes. I then throw what I think is a good fastball and Mantle hits a double and the two runs score. We are now behind 3-2. Gil Hodges, the manager, comes out to the mound, and asks --kinda of rude and ugly, I think -- "why did you throw Mantle a fastball? Why didn't you throw him a curve? You know he would be swinging even if the count was three balls and no strikes. The worst that could have happened is that you would have walked him to load the bases." Well, if I wasn't happy about the situation already, I was certainly unhappy then. What I should have responded is, "well Gil, I didn't throw Mantle a curve ball because my friend Billy Cobb has been telling me since I was twelve that I have a dinky curveball, and I didn't want to take that chance." But I didn't. Instead, I said, "it wouldn't have made any difference. If I had thrown him a curve ball, and walked him, you'd be out here asking me why I didn't throw him a good fastball and take a chance that he would just hit a harmless flyball." And anyway, I added, "if I walked him, look who is batting next. Roger Maris and then Elston Howard. I can't walk all three of them". To make a long story short, that ended my pitching performance for the day. Gil called in a relief pitcher who promply let Maris hit a triple, and we lose 4-2 -- and I am the losting pitcher because when I left the game, we were already behind. In my own little harmless way, I then proceed to demolish the water cooler in the dugout -- a demonstration that is seen not only by Jim Rogers, I suppose, but by a writer for Time Magazine. In its next issue, I get a moment of glory and something for Mom to add to my scrapbook. The only thing is that it is entitled "Mantle's Latest Victim", and says something to the effect that while I threw a fastball "looking for a corner" of the plate, Mantle is the one who found the "corner" when he hit the dickens out of the pitch over first base and just inside the right field foul line. That's it. And now you see why I hesitate to talk about either my curve ball in particular or my illustrious career in general. . . .