|The Power Hitters|
Written by Jim Amato (Contact & Archive) on July 14, 2008
When I first started following baseball in the early 1960's, one of my earliest memories is of the 1961 home run race. Of course most of the conversations I listened to from older men were centered around Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris but there were others in the race for a while. One of them was the popular ex-Indian Rocky Colavito. "The Rock" was now wearing a Detroit Tiger uniform but he was still loved by Cleveland fans.
The Power Hitters," they captured my early imagination. Everyone knew who "The Mick" was. There were so many great ones in that era. Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Ernie Banks paced the National League. In the American League you had Mantle, Harmon Killebrew, Norm Cash, Big Jim Gentile and Colavito. The towering Frank Howard hit equally towering home runs in both leagues. Frank Robinson cleared a lot of fences in both leagues too.
Some teams who lacked the big power hitter had to rely on bunts and stolen bases but when you had teams with a line up like the Yankees who had Mantle, Maris and Tom Tresh along with Bill "Moose" Skowron; the Twins with Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Bob Allison; the Tigers with Rocky, Cash and Kaline. These teams and a few others like the Giants and the Braves were loaded with line ups that had little need to flash the bunt sign.
Through the years there have been great pitchers and players that have burned up the base paths. There have been thrilling defensive wizards who have left us awe struck with their fielding gems. For my money though I get my biggest thrill watching someone launch that little white ball hundreds of feet over a fence while ecstatic fans scramble for a piece of history. Priceless...Now that's what I'm talkin' about !