Ryczek: Phil Linz and his harmonica win 1964 AL pennant for Yankees

From SABR member Bill Ryczek at The National Pastime Museum on December 29, 2014:

Phil Linz could hit a little. He could field, he could run, and he was perhaps most valuable to the championship Yankee teams of the early 1960s for his versatility. Linz could play just about any infield or outfield position, and with the injuries that bedeviled the 1964 Yankees, he had his busiest season as a Major Leaguer, playing 112 games at shortstop, second base, third base, and the outfield.

But Linz left his mark on the 1964 pennant race as, of all things, a harmonica player—and not a very good one. The Yankees, striving for their fifth consecutive American League flag, had never won in a year that ended with “4,” and it appeared in late August that the jinx might continue in 1964. After losing their fourth straight game to the White Sox at Comiskey Park on August 20, the Yankees were four and one half games out of first.

Yogi Berra was in his first year as the Yankee manager, and things were not going well. Ralph Houk had managed the Yankees to pennants in his first three seasons at the helm, but Houk was not charismatic, and after watching former Yankee Manager Casey Stengel generate excitement for a terrible new Mets team, the Yankees decided they needed more color. Houk became the general manager, and the popular Yogi was elevated from player-coach to manager. If the fans wanted color in the dugout, Yogi appeared to be the man to provide it.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/phil-linz-and-his-harmonica-win-1964-american-league-pennant-yankees

Originally published: December 29, 2014. Last Updated: December 29, 2014.