“Monmouth Beach Yankees”
Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and other New York Yankee baseball legends hanging out in Monmouth Beach? Yes, it happened.
Most people probably don’t know that these famous Yanks frequented the beachfront borough some 70 years ago. These legendary Bronx Bombers found Monmouth Beach through the family of Bobby Brown, a competitive Yankee third baseman from 1947 to 1954, who lived on River Avenue.
Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford also lived in Monmouth Beach, renting an apartment from the Ennis family on Wesley Street when he was stationed at old Fort Monmouth. Other visitors included the “Big Three” of the Yankee pitching staff, Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, and Eddie Lopat.
Brown was friendly with Mantle, Ford, and other Yankees in the 1940s and 1950s and they would visit the shore area during the summer and fall months to go to the Monmouth Beach Club on Ocean Avenue. The Yankees were perennial champions during those years — winning 5 consecutive World Series titles from to 1949 to 1953. These future Hall of Famers also stopped by Pete’s Inn (later to become Boyle’s Tavern) owned then by Ed and Mary Holden. The establishment was started by Mary’s dad, Peter Sheridan as a “hobby.”
“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
After a notable Major League Baseball career Bobby Brown went on to become a respected Texas physician. He also served as the American League president from 1984 to 1994. Ford would post the best winning percentage of any pitcher in the 20th century, Berra played on more championship teams then anyone (10), and Mantle, of course, became the idol of millions.
“Bobby Brown enjoyed my parents and Pete’s Inn so much that he would send them a Christmas card every year,” said Pat Thayer, the Holden’s daughter and a lifelong borough resident. “You’d never know that they were famous New York Yankees. They were such wonderful, down-to-earth guys.” So regular in fact, that Ford once painted the inside of the Precious Blood church with a group of fort soldiers.
Both Mantle and Ford attended Pat’s 16th birthday party held at her parent’s Willow Avenue home in 1954 (Pat recently celebrated her 80th birthday, in Boyle’s Tavern, of course). Ford and Mantle were just beginning their storied baseball careers with the Yanks then.
Since Pete’s Inn had one of the few TV sets in town, Pat explained, Brown’s parents would come in to watch their son on TV while he played for the Yankees. Pat’s younger brother, Bob Holden, a former borough municipal prosecutor, was named after Brown.