Philip Francis Linz (born June 4, 1939 in Baltimore, Maryland) is an American former backup infielder in Major League Baseball. From 1962 through 1968, Linz played for the New York Yankees (1962–65), Philadelphia Phillies (1966–1967) and New York Mets (1967–1968). He batted and threw right-handed, and was listed at 6 feet (72 in) and 180 pounds (82 kg).
Through Jim Bouton's book Ball Four, he may be best known for the so-called "Harmonica Incident," on August 20, 1964. On the team bus, after a Yankee loss to the Chicago White Sox, Linz was in the back playing a plaintive version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on his harmonica. Yankee manager Yogi Berra thought the sad cowboy style mixed with a children's nursery rhyme was mocking the team. He told Linz to pipe down. Linz didn't hear and kept playing. Berra became infuriated and called back from the front of the bus, "If you don't knock that off, I'm going to come back there and kick your ass." Linz couldn't hear the words over the music, so he asked Mickey Mantle, "What he say?" Mantle responded, "He said to play it louder." This led the famous confrontation when Berra stormed to the back of the bus, slapped the harmonica out of Linz' hands, and the instrument hit Joe Pepitone's knee.
This altercation convinced the Yankees' front office that Berra had lost control of the team and could not command respect from his players. As a result, the decision was made to fire Berra at the end of the season. And even though the Yankees eventually won the pennant, Berra was fired.
Linz is probably remembered more for this comical confrontation than for anything he accomplished on the field. In the 1973 The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book, authors Brendon C. Boyd and Fred C. Harris remarked (p. 43) about "...the impression engendered in the hearts of all true Yankee-haters everywhere, by his mere presence in the New York lineup, that the end of the Yankee Golden Era had finally arrived."
In a seven-season career, Linz posted a .235 batting average with 11 home runs and 96 RBI in 519 games played. After shortstop Tony Kubek was sidelined with a back injury that eventually ended his career, Linz started at shortstop during the 1964 World Series. David Halberstam, describing the series in his book October 1964, attributes the Yankee loss in part to the ineffectiveness of the Linz-Bobby Richardson combination in the middle of the Yankee infield.
By Dean Hanley
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