Jun 3, 2016

Mid Sixties Mets Player Famous for "The Harmonica Incident" With Yogi Berra: Phil Linz (1967-1968)

Philip Francis Linz was born on June 4, 1939 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was a utility infielder who got signed by the A.L. New York club in 1957.

In the minors he hit well, batting .321 in 1960 at Greensboro in the Carolina League. The next year he won the Texas League MVP Award batting .349 playing short stop for Amarillo.

Linz came up to the majors in 1962 batting .287 with 8 doubles & six steals in 71 games. He didn’t play in that year’s World Series, but got a chance to see action in the next two World Series while on the losing end.

In the 1964 Series he replaced the injured Tony Kubek at short stop, getting to bat in the leadoff spot. He went 7-21 with two solo HRs in the Series, one coming off St. Louis’ Bob Gibson in the 9th inning of Game #7. Ironically Linz only hit 11 HRs in his entire seven year career spanning 519 games.

The Harmonica Incident: Linz is famous for what is known as “the harmonica incident”. He was playing harmonica to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, after a loss to the Chicago White Sox on the team bus that was delayed at O'Hare Aorport. Manager Yogi Berra thought he was mocking the team, and told him to stop.

Linz couldn’t hear him & continued playing. Berra threatened to come back there & shove that harmonica up his butt if he didn’t stop. Linz still couldn't hear him & asked Mickey Mantle what he said. Mantle told Linz “he said to play louder”.

Linz listened & continued to play. Berra, who usually didn't get angry, came to the back of the bus knocking the harmonica out of Linz's hand. The powers that were in charge of the team at the time, were convinced Berra had lost control of the team. He was fired even after winning the pennant at the end of that season.

Linz remained a utility player, never hitting like he did in the minors again. After four seasons in the AL, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in November of 1965 for Ruben Amaro. His batting average dropped to the lower .200’s through the years & in July of 1967 he was traded to the New York Mets for Chuck Hiller.

There he was reunited with his former manager Yogi Berra, who was now a Mets Coach. Linz played in 24 games as a reserve infielder in 1967 batting .207.

On July 6th 1968 his year was highlighted a five hit game in which he tied a club record at the time. It came in Philadelphia where he also drove in three runs in the Mets 11-6 win over the Phillies. In early August he drove in seven runs in a seven game stretch, gathering up eight hits.

Overall in 1968 he got into 78 games, playing as Kenny Boswell’s back up at second base, as well as some pinch hitting roles, batting .209 with 17 RBIs. With the glove he posted a .963 fielding percentage, making ten errors at second base.

In his seven year career Linz hit .235 with 322 hits 11 HRs 64 doubles 13 stolen bases & 96 RBIs over 519 games. He played in 190 games at short stop, 102 games at second, 82 games at third base & 22 games in the outfield.

Retirement: After baseball he owned a nightclub & was been a long time Vice President of a title insurance company in New York.

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