Phil Linz, Unlikely Baseball Celebrity, Is Dead at 81

Phil Linz performed on three World Collection groups with the Yankees within the 1960s and spent seven seasons within the main leagues.

However he was remembered principally for taking part in the harmonica.

Linz was normally a fill-in at shortstop, third base or second base, and sometimes within the outfield, bringing him the nickname Supersub. However in the summertime of 1964 he briefly grew to become a baseball movie star of types.

On the afternoon of Aug. 20, the Yankees had been on the crew bus heading to O’Hare Airport in Chicago for a flight to Boston to play the Crimson Sox after shedding 4 straight video games to the White Sox whereas in a decent pennant race.

Linz was sitting on the rear of the bus working towards on a harmonica he had purchased earlier within the highway journey.

It got here with a learner’s sheet, and the primary tune was “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Supervisor Yogi Berra, seated up entrance, was hardly within the temper for frivolity in view of the Yankees’ hunch and shouted towards the again of the bus, “Shove that harmonica up!”

“I wasn’t certain what he mentioned,” Linz instructed USA Right now in 2013.

So he sought assist from Mickey Mantle, who was sitting throughout from him. “I requested, ‘What did he say, Mickey?’”

Mantle, fast to grab a possibility for a sensible joke, instructed him that Berra had mentioned, “Play it louder.”

So Linz performed on.

Berra charged towards Linz, who both flipped his harmonica towards him or had it swatted away by Berra; accounts differ.

“I went in and apologized to Yogi the following day, instructed him it was disrespectful, shook arms and promised it could by no means occur once more,” Linz remembered. “Yogi mentioned, ‘I nonetheless obtained to tremendous you.’ He fined me $250. It was all proper. I used to be making $14,000.”

By then, the New York sportswriters who had been on the Yankee bus had filed tales describing the episode, and The Related Press had unfold its account to newspapers all through the nation.

Two weeks later, Hohner, the corporate that had manufactured the offending harmonica, provided Linz $10,000 to endorse its model. Linz gladly accepted.

Linz died in a single day — both late Wednesday or early Thursday — at 81, his former Mets teammate and enterprise accomplice Artwork Shamsky mentioned on Thursday, relaying the information from Linz’s spouse, Lynn. She mentioned he died in Virginia, however no different particulars got.

After the harmonica incident, the Yankees went on to publish a 22-6 document in September, their pitching buttressed by the arrival of Mel Stottlemyre, who went 9-Three following his August call-up from the minors, in addition to by Whitey Ford’s restoration from a bruised heel and the September acquisition of the Cleveland Indians’ Pedro Ramos, who was credited with eight saves.

With a rotation that additionally included Jim Bouton and Al Downing, the Yankees gained the American League pennant, ending one recreation forward of the White Sox.

Linz — who typically performed shortstop that season instead of Tony Kubek, who was restricted by again and neck accidents after which sprained a wrist — began towards the St. Louis Cardinals in each recreation of the World Collection. He hit two residence runs, one off the intimidating Bob Gibson, however the Yankees misplaced to the Playing cards in seven video games.

Berra, the longtime Yankee catcher who was a future Corridor of Famer and a beloved determine within the baseball world, was fired as supervisor the day after the Collection ended and changed by Johnny Keane, the Cardinals’ supervisor. Ralph Houk, the Yankees’ common supervisor, gave no purpose for the gorgeous strikes. (The Yankees, heading into some lean occasions, wouldn’t seem in one other World Collection for 12 years.)

Philip Francis Linz was born on June 4, 1939, in Baltimore, the son of a metals refinery mechanic. He was signed by the Yankee group out of highschool and made his debut with the crew in April 1962.

The Yankees traded Linz to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1965 season. The Phillies despatched him to the Mets in July 1967 (by then Berra was a coach for the Mets), and he retired after the 1968 season with a profession batting common of .235 and 11 residence runs.

Linz had a stroke in 2015 and in current months had been dwelling at a nursing residence in Maryland. He and his spouse had a son, Philip. Full data on survivors was not instantly obtainable.

After his enjoying days, Linz joined with Shamsky as house owners of a preferred restaurant and evening spot, Mr. Laffs, at First Avenue and 64th Road on Manhattan’s Higher East Aspect. He stored the enterprise going for greater than 20 years.

“It grew to become the postgame vacation spot for Knicks and Rangers and all those that basked of their mirrored glory,” Sports Illustrated recalled in 2005.

Linz additionally bought insurance coverage in Manhattan whereas living in Stamford, Conn. He appeared at baseball exhibits through the years to retell the story of an extraordinary ballplayer and his well-known harmonica.

When the Yankees’ 1965 yearbook got here out, Linz had an encore for Yankee followers. In an commercial paid for by Hohner, he was depicted on the again cowl in his Yankee uniform with a harmonica. The caption learn, “Play It Once more, Phil.”

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