Yogi Berra gets the champagne shower from Phil Linz after the Yankees win the 1964 pennant.
Get well soon, Phil Linz.
The Yankee “Super Sub” of the 1960s — perhaps best known for his 1964 harmonica confrontation with Yogi Berra — suffered a stroke last week and is recovering at Stamford Hospital, according to Marty Appel, the team’s former public relations chief.
The 76-year-old utility infielder’s last public appearance was Sept. 29 at Berra’s funeral in Montclair, N.J., Appel said.
The story behind the 1964 Linz-Berra brawl, one of the few times the affable Hall of Fame catcher lost his cool, was retold countless times in the wake of Berra’s death. The Yankees, who had lost four straight to the White Sox, were sitting in the team bus at Comiskey Park when Linz pulled out his harmonica and began playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Berra, in his first season as the manager of the team, told Linz to put the harmonica away. “You lose four straight and act like we won the pennant,” Berra shouted.
Linz apparently didn’t hear Berra or ignored the command. He turned to pal Mickey Mantle and asked, “What did he say?”
“He said to play louder,” Mantle said, sparking a shouting match between Linz and his manager witnessed by the reporters who had accompanied the players on the bus.
Some observers believe Berra’s angry explosion shook the Yankees up, fueling a surge that earned the team the 1964 American League pennant. Others say Berra, fired at the end of the season despite leading the club to the World Series, lost his job because the Yankee brass believed the incident suggested he had lost control of the team.
The incident worked out better for Linz, a fan favorite for his happy-go-lucky personality. Hohner Harmonica paid him $ 5,000 for an ad that appeared in the back of the Yankees yearbook. “Play it again, Phil,” the ad said.
Linz, who later played two seasons for the Mets, hit .235 and 11 home runs during his seven-season Major League Baseball career. He also hit two home runs — including one of the fierce Bob Gibson — during the Yankees’ losing effort against the Cardinals in the 1964 world Series.
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