The first three games of the World Series the Yankees had a fight on their hands. The last two were debacles. In winning 4-1, the Yankees demonstrated their superiority in every facet of play. Their regulars—notably Bobby Richardson and Bill Skowron—hit well; those the Reds counted on—Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson and Gene Freese—hit little or late. Yankee fielding was excellent; Cincinnati's at first was better than expected but was" worse toward the end. Yankee relief pitchers and pinch hitters saved and won games; Cincinnati's bench too often failed. Nearly everyone but the Yankees conceded the Reds an edge in pitching; only in the second game, however, was that edge apparent. In their decisive match-up. Whitey Ford twice out-pitched Jim O'Toole. As a drama in five acts, the Series was a failure; but like many theatrical flops, it had a number of great moments and a few stunning performances. The best are shown opposite and on the following pages.
The most dramatic moment came (left) when Cincinnati's Elio Chacon caught the Yankees by surprise and put the Reds ahead in the only game they won (the second). Chacon was on third, Eddie Kasko on first when Yankee Catcher Elston Howard let a pitch go by him for a short passed ball. Howard retrieved it quickly, whirled to throw to second—and spotted Elio brazenly barreling home. He dived headfirst at Chacon's flashing spikes but was too late. The rattled Yankees played badly thereafter, lost 6-2 and the Series odds temporarily fell
A MAD, SAD BALLET IN SHORT RIGHT
Until this critical moment in the exciting third game, Cincinnati had looked a better team than the Yankees. Chacon, playing with the same éclat that had unsettled the Yanks in the second game, unsettled them again in this one, laying down a bunt which Yankee Pitcher Bill Stafford threw into right field. But Elio's flirtation with glory ended in the seventh inning, when Yogi Berra, with two out and Tony Kubek on second base, lifted a soft, lazy fly into short right field. Chacon (17) raced back for it and Frank Robinson charged in. Robinson might have made the catch but Elio was in the way and Frank had to slow down. Elio got his glove on the ball, lost it, collided with Robinson and the two players and the ball rolled in three directions as Center Fielder Pinson (28) watched helplessly. Kubek scored easily. Disaster for the Reds followed quickly; the Yanks scored again in the eighth on a pinch-hit homer by John Blanchard, who had hit four pinch-hit home runs during the season. They won 3-2 in the ninth when Maris got his first hit in 11 at bats (page 20). Mantle played for the first time and got no hits, but if he had not played Blanchard would have been in right, unavailable for pinch hitting. Chacon left for a pinch hitter in the seventh; with him went much of the ebullience of the Reds and with him, too, seemed to go another intangible. They lost a good-luck charm in Elio.
October 15, 1961
THE YANKEES' STOPPERS
New York's traditional home run heroics were matched by Boyer and Ford on defense
In New York fans came to cheer Yankee power. They stayed to marvel at two aspects of Yankee defense—the fielding of Third Baseman Cletis Boyer and the pitching of Whitey Ford (right). In the first two games Boyer made three wonderful, diving stops of crisply hit ground balls and threw the runners out each time. The pictures on the opposite page show the most remarkable of the three—"the best play I ever made," said Boyer. It came with two out in the eighth inning of the first game. Cincinnati Pinch Hitter Dick Gernert hit a quick bouncer between third and short, apparently a certain single. But Boyer dived on a long, low line to his left, landed on his stomach and bounced once, and stopped the ball. He scrambled to his knees, saw he had no time to get to a better position and threw the ball, cleanly and accurately, from there. He caught Gernert by two steps.
Boyer's fielding plays were, of course, a help to Ford, but Whitey didn't need them to win the first game. Nor did he need them when he won the fourth game, as well. He pitched with the icy competence that is his trademark, and if during his 14 scoreless innings the Reds looked tense, puzzled and generally inept at the plate, credit Ford. He has done the same thing to many good teams, including the Pirates in last year's World Series. In both games he stayed ahead of the hitters; in the first game, against 23 of the 30 batters he faced, his first pitch was a strike. He gave up only two singles in that 2-0 victory; he had given up four singles when he left, because of a foot injury, in the sixth inning of the fourth game, which the Yankees won 7-0. He has now pitched 32 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series competition, breaking another record set by Babe Ruth.
POWER WAS THE ULTIMATE PAYOFF
Once again the Yankees won by doing what they do better than anyone else: hitting the bail out of sight
For two full games and eight innings of a third, Cincinnati had played the Yankees dead even. Then, in the ninth inning, Roger Maris got his first hit of the Series. It was a typical Maris home run, hit high and deep into the right-field bleachers, and it won that game for the Yankees. It may, for that matter, have won the Series too, because after that the Cincinnati team crumpled under the continuing pressure of Yankee power. The Yankees won the fourth game 7-0; then, in the first inning of the last game, they destroyed the Reds' last hope with five runs. John Blanchard hit his second home run in this violent inning (below). The Yankees were playing without the wounded Mickey Mantle and the wounded Yogi Berra. But the two outfielders replacing them—Hector Lopez and Blanchard—actually led the Yankee attack. Said Bob Purkey sadly, after Blanchard had hit the home run off him in the third game: "I threw the ball too high and too much inside, and he hit it too far out." That might serve as the epitaph for the Reds in this Series.