Retro: The night New York Yankees star Mickey Mantle was taken to Baltimore police headquarters

Retired Baltimore City Police Sgt. Dick Ellwood was about to leave his shift one night in 1966. He heard a commotion and saw some drinkers staggering.

He normally worked at a pedestrian stall along Greenmount Avenue and Preston Street, near his childhood home at East Chase and Valley streets.

That night he was assigned to a different location, Charles and Eager streets.

“There were many restaurants there. The idea was to keep things quiet. The area was very busy back then,” he said, referring to the part of Charles Street where the old Harvey House, Blue Mirror, Owl Bar, China Clipper, Mount Vernon, Peabody Book Shop and Beer Stube, and Eager House were all crowded spots.

Ellwood was standing at a police phone booth, a private phone in a metal box waiting for a message to end his shift, when he heard a commotion.

A group of well-dressed men were leaving the Eager House restaurant at West Eager and Morton streets. They were loud and walked the short distance to Charles Street by the old Chanticleer nightclub.

“I was a New York Yankees fan at the time and I recognized them instantly. The group consisted of Whitey Ford, Tony Kubek, Clete Boyer, Ralph Houk, Joe Pepitone and Mickey Mantle,” he said.

Mantle was intoxicated and the loudest of all.

“The others were under control. Mantle was not,” Ellwood said. “I was yelling and yelling, wildly and causing commotion, and the team had to be back at the Sheraton-Belvedere Hotel at 11 p.m. A few minutes passed. They were in a hurry to return.”

The owner of the Eager House restaurant, Bill Tutton, courted sports figures as customers. Tutton also loved policemen.

“Mantle was falling in the street. When he fell, his companions picked him up. He was boisterous and insulting. They let him go and he went down again,” Ellwood said. “He was using profanity and very drunk.”

The mood changed when Ellwood confronted him and said, “I’m going to put you away.”

“The others laughed because they thought he was joking,” Ellwood recalled. “You may have seen this before with Mantle. Then they knew it was going to happen.”

Ellwood returned to the same phone booth and called a patrol.

The police van arrived and a couple of older officers assessed the situation. Ellwood, who was 22 and recently honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, was asked if he really had the temerity to arrest the best-known baseball player in the country at Charles and Eager streets.

Mantle was finishing a long career with the Yankees at the time and was considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. A three-time American League MVP, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame eight years later. He also struggled with alcoholism and years later sought treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic.

Ellwood was really determined. Mantle stopped and sat down on a low brick wall that surrounded a parking lot.

The player was transported to the Central District, then to Fayette Street in downtown Baltimore.

The lieutenant on duty for that shift was Bo Fink, who upon recognizing one of baseball’s legends, told Ellwood, “Do you realize what you’ve done? You can’t lock up Mickey Mantle.

What happened? Mantle was released at 2 a.m. Police officers took him back to the Belvedere, then a busy hotel that was home to numerous sports teams.

“The next day, I was driving to work and I heard on the radio: ‘Now batting, Mickey Mantle,’ Ellwood said. “I could not believe what I was hearing. He was able to play the next day.”

Ellwood became a sergeant and retired in 1990. He worked in the homicide unit for 12 years and in 2012 wrote “Cop Stories: The Few, The Proud, and The Ugly,” which included the unsolved murder of Dr. Sebastian Russian in hamilton

“It was an unusual night. It was hot and Mantle was my hero,” Ellwood said. “I was living in an apartment in Parkville, single, I couldn’t sleep that night. It was crazy, growing up, loving that guy and then having to put him away.”


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