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Yanks Drop 11-Inning Game to Red Sox in Berra’s Managerial Debut

Apr. 16, 1964 - Yogi Berra’s managerial debut and Whitey Ford’s bid for win No. 200 were dented in 11 innings of brilliant baseball today as the 42nd Yankee Stadium inaugural unfolded. The Red Sox came back after blowing a three-run lead and won, 4-3, on a wild pitch by Whitey.

Catcher Bob Tillman, who isn’t supposed to be much of a hitter, crashed his fourth hit, a three-bagger off Mickey Mantle’s glove at the 461-foot mark of the center field fence in the 11th inning.

Mantle went far back for Tillman’s towering smash but couldn’t hold the ball as he reached the warning track. The Mick just missed duplicating the game-saver he had pulled off in the ninth when he robbed Carl Yastrzemski of an extra-base hit after Eddie Bressoud’s two-out triple. “They said Mickey couldn’t run,” Berra said after the game, “but he sure moved pretty fast out there on that soft, wet ground.”

Dick Williams batted for reliever Dick Radatz as Roman Mejias ran for Tillman. Berra also did a little running, pumping his stubby legs from the dugout to the mound to find out if pitching coach Ford thought pitcher Ford ought to get the hook.

Berra later denied that he had considered replacing Whitey.

“I told him to watch out for the squeeze because Dick Williams is a good bunter,” Yogi reported. “But the game was all Whitey’s to win or lose.”

He lost. His second pitch to Williams, a hard curve, bounced in front of Elston Howard and over his head — and Mejias raced in with the winning run.

Berra had waited impatiently to begin his career as a boss while rains washed out the opener Tuesday and Wednesday. The fans apparently lost patience at the deferred date, and only 12,709 showed up, although the day was sunny and the temperature a not-too-uncomfortable 58 degrees.

The attendance was the smallest since a scant 11,251 came out to see the old Senators and Yanks in the Bronx in 1955. That also was a deferred inaugural and was played in cold weather.

“If we play like we did today,” said Berra afterward, “we’re not going to lose many games.”

“What hurt you most today?” a newsman asked Yogi.

“Well, a writer just stepped on my foot. That hurt,” was the reply.

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