On a pleasant April day in 1953, a soft-spoken, 21-year-old New York Yankee named Mickey Mantle took the plate against Washington Senators’ home-team pitcher Chuck Stobbs. With two men out and Yogi Berra leading off first base, Stobbs slung a chest-high fastball. Mantle gave a mighty swing and sent the ball soaring into a 20-knot tailwind. It was a clear home run—the longest ever in the small stadium. Yet on its downward arc, after traveling 460 linear feet over the heads of slack-jawed fans, the ball ricocheted off a billboard for National Bohemian Beer and bounced clear out of Clark Griffith Stadium. Smelling a big story, the Yankees’ enterprising PR agent went to find the ball in the street. When he returned, he reported that the ball had traveled an additional 105 feet. It was a front-page story in the next day’s New York Daily News. The news spread around the world like wildfire.
It was an epic blast, but was it really 565 feet? And what about that extra bounce off the sign? In the end it didn’t really matter. The PR agent’s story stuck. Mickey Mantle had set the first of a lifetime of world records.