Phil Linz, Unlikely Baseball Celebrity, Is Dead at 81

By then, the New York sportswriters who were on the Yankee bus had filed stories describing the episode, and The Associated Press had spread its account to newspapers throughout the country.

Two weeks later, Hohner, the company that had manufactured the offending harmonica, offered Linz $10,000 to endorse its brand. Linz gladly accepted.

Linz’s son, Philip, said he died on Wednesday at a rehabilitation center in Leesburg, Va., where he was being treated for Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He was 81.

After the harmonica incident, the Yankees went on to post a 22-6 record in September, their pitching buttressed by the arrival of Mel Stottlemyre, who went 9-3 following his August call-up from the minors, as well as by Whitey Ford’s recovery from a bruised heel and the September acquisition of the Cleveland Indians’ Pedro Ramos, who was credited with eight saves.

With a rotation that also included Jim Bouton and Al Downing, the Yankees won the American League pennant, finishing one game ahead of the White Sox.

Linz — who often played shortstop that season in place of Tony Kubek, who was limited by back and neck injuries and then sprained a wrist — started against the St. Louis Cardinals in every game of the World Series. He hit two home runs, one off the intimidating Bob Gibson, but the Yankees lost to the Cards in seven games.

Berra, the longtime Yankee catcher who was a future Hall of Famer and a beloved figure in the baseball world, was fired as manager the day after the Series ended and replaced by Johnny Keane, the Cardinals’ manager. Ralph Houk, the Yankees’ general manager, gave no reason for the stunning moves. (The Yankees, heading into some lean times, would not appear in another World Series for 12 years.)