Former Yankee Phil Linz finally got to finish his memorable harmonica rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” last Thursday, nearly 30 years after then-manager Yogi Berra had angrily stopped him in mid-song.
Linz, 54, played the ditty at Berra’s 69th birthday party, celebrated at a charity golf and tennis event in West Orange, N.J. He also played a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Berra had first heard Linz play on Aug. 23, 1964, on the team bus but was in no mood to appreciate music. The Yankees had just lost four games to the Chicago Whited Sox.
“Yogi called back, saying to quit,” Linz said. “But I didn’t hear him and Mickey Mantle told me that he said to play it louder, so I did.”
And infuriated Berra.
Add Linz: The shortstop and utility infielder was fined $250 by Berra but came out ahead in the long run. The Hohner Harmonica Co. later paid him $5,000 to endorse its product.
Trivia time: Who holds the major league record for most consecutive victories? Free balls, too: Golf Digest reports that David Leadbetter charges $3,500 a lesson.
“Unless you’re a touring pro, don’t expect a one-on-one audience with his David-ness; $3,500 gets you a two-day retreat with the guru of gurus.
“Better yet, just buy one of his books for $25. It lasts longer.”
Blue-collar team: Anthony Mason of the New York Knicks on the work ethic of Coach Pat Riley:
“A lot of people say he works us to death, but at the end of the game, we’re still running and other people’s tongues are hanging out.”
Baseball royalty: From the book, “We Played the Game,” edited by Danny Peary:
Pitcher Barry Latman on his first game with the Chicago White Sox and facing Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox:
“I threw three straight strikes and (umpire) Nestor Chylak called three straight balls. I started hollering and screaming at him. He said, ‘Mr. Williams will tell you when you throw a strike.’ ”
Wait a minute: From the book, “Tall Tales” by Terry Pluto: Tom Carey, a Boston sportswriter, once wrote:
“Is (Bill) Russell worth $17,000? No, because I can name four rebounders that Russell fears. In plain basketball sense, he is a vastly overrated competitor.”
FYI: Archie Moore, former light-heavyweight boxing champion, recorded 140 knockouts in a career from 1936-1965.
Intimidation: White Sox catcher Ron Karkovice, who stands 6 feet 1 and weighs 220 pounds, on blocking the plate:
“I won’t say nobody can knock me down, but when it’s going to be close, some of them might think twice.”
Trivia answer: Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants, with 24 from July 17, 1936, to May 27, 1937.
Quotebook: Ralph Kiner, New York Met announcer: “The Mets just had their first .500-or-better April since July of 1992.”