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Welcome to the page for Arthur E. "Red" Patterson


Mickey Mantle and Red Patterson pose for this shot after Mantle's 565-foot shot!


Article from Ross Newhan in 1992 about the passing of Red Patterson.

Red Patterson Dies of Cancer

Baseball: An executive with both the Dodgers and Angels, he was a public relations innovator.

February 11, 1992|ROSS NEWHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Arthur E. (Red) Patterson, one of baseball's most innovative public relations officials and an executive with both the Dodgers and Angels, died Monday of cancer. He was 83.

During a baseball career that began with the New York Yankees in 1946 and spanned 45 years, Patterson was credited with introducing old-timers' games, yearbooks, concession souvenirs and many of the most popular promotional events. He also was the first to pace off a home run by Mickey Mantle and refer to it as a tape-measure homer.

Helen Patterson, his wife of 60 years, was at his bedside when he died at St. Jude's Hospital in Fullerton. Buzzie Bavasi, who worked with Patterson as general manager of the Dodgers and Angels, said he never met a harder worker.

"Fifteen hours a day weren't enough for Red," Bavasi said. "I haven't known all of the public relations people, but he had to be up with the best of them. He started most of the programs they all seem to use."

Said Tim Mead, public relations director of the Angels: "Red was one of the last great baseball storytellers. He was one of the last baseball purists, a baseball historian, to work as a club PR director. He taught me how to recognize trends, to look beyond the obvious (in preparing statistics and pregame media notes). And he was always positive. You had to argue convincingly if you wanted to use a negative note or stat."

Patterson first served as vice president of public relations for the Dodgers, then as president of the Angels.

Dodger President Peter O'Malley, who accepted a lifetime achievement award on Patterson's behalf at Sunday night's annual dinner of the Los Angeles-Anaheim chapter of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America, said he was saddened by the loss of a "very special man" who provided an "endless supply of creative ideas."

"I used to kid Red about typing his press notes with his right hand as he drove home with his left," O'Malley said. "He loved his work, always looked on the bright side and always had an anecdote. We were fortunate to have him in the organization for 20 years."

Patterson was born on Feb. 1, 1909, in Long Island City, N.Y., the son of a mill superintendent. He attended night school at New York University while working days for the now defunct New York Herald-Tribune. He spent 17 years with the paper, covering a variety of sports, including baseball. He was on the road with the New York Yankees on the day that Lou Gehrig's record streak of 2,130 games ended.

In an interview several years ago, Patterson said of that event: "We were in Detroit, and I remember Joe McCarthy, who was the Yankee manager then, calling and saying, 'I've got a story I think you'll be interested in.' I went up to Joe's room and he said that Gehrig wasn't going to play that day, that he had asked to come out of the lineup because he felt there was something physically wrong, though no one knew what it was yet.

"Well, the Yankees won by about 16 runs that day. They were so inspired they would have beaten any team ever. Gehrig had taken the lineup card to the plate before the game. Guys were crying, going up to bat with tears running down their cheeks."

In 1945, Patterson joined the National League Service Bureau under Ford Frick, the league president and future commissioner. Patterson was considered a candidate to become league president when Frick stepped up, but Patterson left the league office in 1946 to join the Yankees as the first publicity director for a major league team.

Two years later, he staged the first old-timers' game as a means of honoring Babe Ruth and stimulating fans who had become disinterested by the annual dominance of the Yankees. It was during his eight years with the Yankees that he also came up with the idea of cap day and other promotions and became the first to publish a yearbook that was sold with other souvenirs at the concession stands.

"Harry Stevens ran the concessions then and he didn't like the idea," Patterson said in the interview. "I remember him saying, 'What are you trying to do, make Yankee Stadium into a Coney Island?' It was the same thing when I suggested the cap day. George Weiss was the club's general manager then and he said, 'I don't want every kid in New York running around in a Yankee cap.' I said, 'George, what could be better? That's the greatest ad you could have.' "

Nothing, perhaps, brought Patterson more renown nor did more to document the strength of the young Mantle than Patterson's decision to measure the distance of a Mantle home run that was hit against Chuck Stobbs of the Washington Senators and carried over the back wall at Griffith Stadium.

"Nobody had ever hit the ball out of the left side of Griffith Stadium, so I decided to go out into the neighborhood behind the fence," Patterson recalled. "I found a youngster with the ball, asked him where it had landed, and paced off that distance to the fence. We knew how far the wall was from the plate, so we could announce that it was 565 feet. Mickey was absolutely the strongest player I ever saw."

Patterson would apply the newly created "tape measure" to other homers in other places, the distances often raising skeptical eyebrows but also creating headlines and conversation, as did many of his other contributions.

Patterson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as their publicity director in 1954, came West with the team in 1958 and later became vice president of public relations and promotions.

It is estimated that he made 300 speeches a year on behalf of the club, often three a day, seven a week. His promotions, including a Straight 'A' Night for students, were copied throughout baseball and helped the Dodgers become baseball's attendance leaders on an almost annual basis.

Impressed by Patterson's accomplishments and looking for ways to reach the Angels' fans, owner Gene Autry hired Patterson as club president in 1975. Patterson's title changed to assistant to the owner when Bavasi was hired to oversee budget and playing player personnel in 1977, but Patterson's promotions and programs helped the Angels set a club attendance record of 2.5 million in 1979 and draw 2.2 million or more in every year except one since then.

He resigned briefly in 1985, believing he no longer retained any authority, but basically remained on the payroll as a public relations consultant. He continued to make occasional appearances on behalf of the club until recently, and periodically wrote a baseball column for the Anaheim Bulletin.

In addition to his wife, Patterson is survived by sons Kenneth and Brian, daughters Janet Huie and Maureen Haskins, and 15 grandchildren. Services are pending.



The real story behind the tape-measure job that Mantle hit in 1953.

Mickey Mantle, Tape Measure Shot, April 17, 1953

by Harvey Frommer

Mel Allen always had a way with words. Here is his re-creation call of the epic Mickey Mantle home run. The original call was never preserved. Allen's recreations are easily spotted when he uses full names (Yogi Berra, Chuck Stobbs) and adjectives like "tremendous drive.

"Yogi Berra on first. Mickey at bat with the count of no strikes. Left-handed pitcher Chuck Stobbs on the mound. Mantle, a switch-hitter batting right-handed, digs in the plate. Here's the pitch . . . Mantle swings. . . there's a tremendous drive going into deep left field! It's going, going, it's over the bleachers and over the sign atop of the bleachers into the yards of houses across the street! It's got to be one of the longest home runs I've ever seen hit. How about that! . . .we have just learned that Yankee publicity director Red Patterson has gotten hold of a tape measure and he's going to go out there to see how far that ball actually did go."

According to Marty Appel, the well known Yankee expert and public relations man extraordinaire, "Red never got hold of a tape measure; he walked it off with his size 11 shoes and estimated the distance."

Washington outfielders at Griffith Stadium never moved. Only twice before had a ball ever been hit over the Griffith left-field wall - once by Joe DiMaggio and once by Jimmy Foxx.

Their shots, however, bounced in the seats before clearing the last barrier. Mantle's shot blasted toward left center, where the base of the bleachers wall was 391 feet from the plate. The distance to the back of the wall was sixty-nine feet more. A football scoreboard was atop Mickey blasted the ball toward left center, where the base of the bleachers wall is 391 feet from the plate.

The distance to the back of the wall is sixty-nine feet more and then the back wall is fifth feet high. Atop that wall is a football scoreboard. The ball struck about five feet above the wall, caromed off to the right and flew out of sight.

Donald Dunaway, ten years-old, scrambled over the fence and was the first to get to the ball. Close behind was Yankee publicity director Arthur E. Patterson.

"Lookout!" Yankee third base coach Frank Crosetti, screamed at Mantle. Billy Martin stayed at third base and pretended to tag up. Mickey ran the bases with his head down and didn't notice Billy standing there and almost ran him over."

"That was the hardest ball I ever saw hit," Martin complimented his buddy. The ball was eventually recovered in the back yard of a house across a major thoroughfare and four houses up a bisecting street, some 562 feet from home plate.

Scuffed in two spots, the ball finally stopped in the backyard of a house, about 565 feet from home plate. In one of the best trades in baseball history, Patterson traded the Mantle home run ball for one dollar and three new baseballs to be autographed by the Yankee players.

So was Mantle who said: "If I send the ball home, I know what will happen to it. My twin brothers will take it out on the lot, like any 20-cent rocket."

Chuck Stobbs was not happy. "Mickey didn't get a hit every time he faced me. I got him out a few times, too."

Yankees PR director Red Patterson was happy and also went into the history books. He coined the term "tape measure home run" by measuring the distance with a tape measure of that monster shot.

Mantle's shot may be the most famous home run ever hit. The Guinness Book of World Records lists it as the longest home run to be measured at the time it was hit.


Mickey's Historic Homer On Trial!

WASHINGTON, APRIL 17 - RECORD HOMER -- Smiling Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees, holds the ball he socked for 565-feet today, the longest homerun ever hit in Griffith Stadium here.  Mickey points to the dent in the ball where it hit a house after clearing centerfield in the game with the Washington Senators.  The Yankees won 7-3.

 

Fifty-five years after the fact, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports smugly presented a stunning indictment, with help from his expert witness, author Bill Jenkinson, that the 565’ blast by Mickey Mantle on April 17th, 1953 at Griffith Stadium is merely a myth and could not possibly have traveled that far.  The prosecution’s entire case rests on this flimsy, circumstantial evidence; 1) the fact that Donald Dunaway (the boy who found the ball) can not be located 55 years later, 2) that Yankees PR man, Red Patterson never actually measured the ball with a tape measure and 3) the fact that the prosecution feels that nobody could ever hit a ball as hard or as far as the great Babe Ruth.  The defense plans to convincingly dispute each of these pieces of evidence. 


Defense opening statement:  The defense wishes to clearly state that it acknowledges Babe Ruth as the greatest baseball player in the history of the game.   Unlike the prosecution, we are in no way going to challenge the distances of balls that Babe Ruth hit during his tremendous career.  Even though none of the material witnesses are with us today (they are on Heaven’s team now), we plan to present well documented written testimony from multiple people who actually witnessed Mickey’s home run in question on April 17, 1953.  We intend to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the home run in question was, and still is, the longest measured home run in the history of the game. 

 

Oddly enough, the only material witness that Jeff Passan seems interested in is Donald Dunaway.  In Passan’s article, he states that even though Red Patterson admitted that he did not actually measure the homer with a tape measure (he stepped off the distance), he never wavered from his story that Donald Dunaway found the ball.  Passan issues an objection that because Mr. Dunaway can not be found today, he didn’t exist in 1953 and therefore his “testimony” is hearsay.  That is hardly evidence that the homer didn’t land 565’ from home plate.  Objection overruled.


The prosecution also claims that Mickey's blast could not have gone 565' because it was not precisely measured.  The defense objects on the grounds that, prior to this home run, no home run ball in the history of the game had ever been precisely measured.  Yet, people still insist that Babe Ruth's blast traveled specific distances and nobody has ever questioned them.  At least in this case, Red Patterson did something never done before and that was to measure the distance in steps which was a widely accepted and common means of measuring distance at that time.  Objection sustained. 


Let’s review the facts that are agreed to by both the prosecution and the defense:

1) The ball definitely did carry completely out of the confines of Griffith Stadium.
2) The ball glanced off the National Bohemian Beer sign which was 460’ feet from home plate and 55’ off the ground.
3) There was a wind blowing out of the stadium that day.

The defense would now like to introduce Exhibits A, B and C to the jury:

Exhibit A – The day after the home run blast, an article appeared in The Washington Post titled, “Ruth Never Slugged A Baseball Farther”.  The opening paragraph of the article read, “MICKEY MANTLE’S home run in the fifth inning was the first drive ever to clear the 55-foot high left field bleachers at Griffith Stadium since they were built in 1924.  Veteran New York baseball writers agreed that Babe Ruth never hit a ball farther.”

Exhibit B - An article titled, “Home Run Big Guns – From Ruth to Mantle”, appeared in the July 1953 edition of Baseball Magazine which stated, “Red Patterson, public relations officer of the New York Yankees, dashed in pursuit. He found the ball in possession of ten-year old Don Dunaway, who pointed out the spot where he'd retrieved the leather. Patterson's measurement of the gaudy blast was 565 feet. Later, the calculations were reviewed by Cal Griffith, vice president of the Senators, who made it 562 feet.”

Thus, Red Patterson was not the only person to have calculated the distance.  Cal Griffith, the vice president of the Senators, did his own analysis and determined the home run to have traveled 562’.  Keep in mind that Red Patterson might have reason to exaggerate since he worked for the Yankees– but Mr. Griffith?

Exhibit C – An article titled, “As High and Far as Ruth”, appeared in the July 1956 Baseball Digest which stated, “The late Clark Griffith, a Yankee hater from far back, paid Mantle complete, if grudging, tribute for the ball he hit completely out of the park in left center in 1953 in Griffith Stadium. ‘Maybe the wind did help him,’ Griffith said, ‘but that wind has been blowing off and on for 51 years out here and nobody else ever put one over that fence.’”
 

We would like to pose this question to the jury - Is it merely a coincidence that the prosecution waited fifty-five years to make their indictment against Mickey Mantle when there are no living witnesses that can counter their claims?  Or is it just out of convenience?  Although Passan states that only 4,206 fans attended that historic game on April 17, 1953, fortunately, there were at least two people present on the field that day who had witnessed both Mickey’s blast and long homers hit by the great Babe Ruth – Yankee coaches Bill Dickey and Frank Crosetti.  While Crosetti only witnessed the Babe’s last three years on the Yankees, Dickey witnessed seven years (half of Babe’s Yankee career). The defense would like to present testimony from these actual witnesses. 


The defense now calls Bill Dickey to the stand to hear his testimony that was published in multiple magazines over the years that he coached with the Yankees:

June 1956 Newsweek: Bill Dickey describing Mickey Mantle - "I thought when I was playing with Ruth and [Lou] Gehrig I was seeing all I was ever gonna see. But this kid… Ruth and Gehrig had power, but I've seen Mickey hit seven balls, seven, so far ... well, I've never seen nothing like it."

July 1956 Baseball Digest“The home runs he [Mantle] hits are not only Ruthian in quality, sometimes they're farther than the late Babe's. Bill Dickey, the Yankee coach who played with Ruth, almost said after the opening game that Mantle could hit a ball farther. Then he amended it, and said: ‘Put it this way: Ruth could hit a ball awful high and awful far. Mickey can hit it just as high and just as far.’”

1961 Complete Sports“Most of his tape-measure homers (450 feet or better) had been hit righty. The grand daddy of them all was the 565-footer over the left field bleachers in Washington on April 17, 1953. That is the longest fair ball ever recorded by actual measurement. Two weeks later, he hit one (again righty) out of St. Louis' Sportsmans Park, (now Busch Stadium), which measured 512 feet. Those two convinced Dickey, then a Yankee coach and former teammate of both Ruth and Gehrig. ‘Mickey can hit a ball further than the Babe,’ he said, refusing to let his fealty to Ruth cloud his honest appraisal of the pair of all-time greats.”

July 1962 Great Moments In Sports: Referring to Mickey’s 565’ blast in Washington in 1953 - “Clark Griffith, Bucky Harris, Casey Stengel and Bill Dickey, who'd seen 'em all in the era of the lively ball, agreed it was the longest drive in the history of the game. ‘I never thought I would live to see a man who could hit a baseball as far as Ruth,’ said the awe-struck Dickey. ‘But now I've seen a man who could hit 'em further.’"

The defense would now like to call our second witness, Frank Crosetti, to the stand:

January 1964 Sports Calvacade – Commenting on Mickey’s façade shot in 1963 - “FRANK CROSETTI: ‘That's the hardest I've ever seen anyone hit a ball. Foxx, Ruth, anybody.  I don't believe a man can hit a ball any harder.  It went out like it was shot out of a cannon.’"

The defense would like to call our third and final witness, Casey Stengel. Stengel played during the same era as Babe Ruth.  Let’s hear testimony from Stengel, that we believe is actually on point and easy to understand:

1957 Mickey Mantle Baseball King: Regarding Mickey’s 565’ foot blast – “‘I don't care how far it went,’ said manager Casey Stengel in his best Stengelese. ‘It was the longest ball I ever' saw.’"

The defense believes that no further testimony is necessary and therefore the defense rests.

Defense closing argument: So whose evidence is more convincing?  Mr. Passan’s evidence which is less than even circumstantial or that of Bill Dickey, Frank Crosetti, Casey Stengel, Red Patterson, Cal Griffith, Clark Griffith and numerous other experts of that time?  It seems the answer is clear.  The ball DID travel between 562’ and 565’, and, had it not glanced off the beer sign, it would have surely traveled even further.


Since the prosecution has failed to prove the facts necessary to sustain an indictment of this magnitude, we believe that their case should be dismissed. The only real question remaining is whether Passan and Jenkinson have engaged in an unprofessional and malicious prosecution and are therefore guilty of irresponsible journalism?  We think the verdict should be clear on this issue and the penalty should be up to the baseball fans.  So there you have it baseball fans.  Forget about the steroid controversy that no one seems to care about – this is the real baseball trial of the century. You be the judge and the jury.

 

This article can be found at: http://www.mickeymantle.com/insights.htm#Mickeys Historic Homer On Trial!


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