Mickey Mantle Hits 500th Home Run: This Day in Sports History

Mickey Mantle hits for the New York Yankees against the Chicago White Sox
Mickey Mantle hits for the New York Yankees against the Chicago White Sox / Kidwiler Collection/Getty Images

Mickey Mantle was on the cusp of history as the sun rose on May 14, 1967. He finished the day in an elite club, solidifying himself as one of the greatest power hitters in baseball history.

Mantle's New York Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles that day and led 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning. The bases were empty with two outs as he strode to the plate to face Stu Miller. After working the count to 3-2, Mantle turned on a changeup and launched it into the right field bleachers. In doing so he became just the seventh player in major league history to hit 500 home runs.

By hitting that home run, Mantle joined Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Ted Williams and Willie Mays as the only men to accomplish the feat. Eddie Matthews would join him two months later, while Hank Aaron was a year away from topping 500 home runs.

In 1967, Mantle was a shell of his former self. Injuries and age had taken their toll on the Yankees superstar. During his prime the switch-hitter would blast enormous home runs with regularity. His power was so prodigious, the term "tape-measure" home run was coined after Yankees traveling secretary Red Patterson tried to find the exact distance of one of Mantle's blasts. There are so many legends about individual home runs he hit that the Baseball Hall of Fame has an article on one.

There are videos all over the Internet trying to figure out just how far some of his legendary shots went:

Mantle was more than just a power hitter, though. He was an All-Star in 16 of his 18 seasons, won the American League MVP Award three times, won a Triple Crown in 1956 and helped lead the Yankees to seven World Series titles. The Hall of Famer was one of baseball's best players during the 50s and 60s.

Just how good was Mantle? He led the American League in OPS six times, won the home run crown four times and led the league in runs five times, while topping 100 runs scored nine times. He hit over .300 10 times in his 18-years in the majors. He finished his career with a .298 batting average and a .977 OPS, with 536 home runs and 1,509 RBI. He also posted a career WAR of 110.2, which ranks 21st all-time.

Mantle was arguably the biggest star of his generation. He was the face of the Yankees for nearly two decades and almost always lived up to the immense hype and pressure he faced each season. Had he not suffered so many injuries during the second half of his career, he could have accomplished even more.

Fifty-three years ago today, Mantle took his place among the immortals by smashing his 500th home run. By that time he was no longer the terror at the plate he was in his youth, but he was still strong enough to crush a 3-2 changeup into the bleachers.