Through six months and 327 ball games, it seemed unlikely that the collective pitching staffs of the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants were in any danger of being inducted into the Hall of Fame en masse. Neither team reached the World Series on pitching, but on crash. The Giants led the National League in batting and home runs, the Yankees led the American League in batting and were second in homers. Willie Mays won a championship, Mickey Mantle narrowly missed another. The Yankees had three regulars over .300, the Giants four. So what happened in the Series? Somebody took the rabbit out of the ball and put spaghetti in the bats. The names of the scoundrels were Ford, Sanford, Terry, Stafford, Pierce and Marichal.
Some of them won and some of them lost but seldom, if ever, has a World Series begun with such superb all-round work from the mound. After three games the Yankees were hitting .202 as a team, with one home run, the Giants .213 with two. Inevitably such futile swatting had to end, but even when it did, in the fourth game, it was because both starting pitchers had been replaced—due to circumstance, not weakness.
The fourth game began with Juan Marichal, considered by some the finest young pitcher in the National League, attempting to even the Series at two games apiece at the expense of Edward Charles Ford, considered by almost everyone the finest middle-aged pitcher south of Cooperstown. For four innings the Yankees could do nothing with Marichal and trailed 2-0 as a result of Catcher Tom Haller's two-run homer in the second. But then Ford solved the problem himself.
In the top of the fifth he threw a pitch that Marichal, trying to bunt, misjudged. The ball hit Marichal on the pitching hand, smashing his index finger, and the young right-hander was through. The Yankees tied the score in the sixth, and Ford departed, too, for a pinch hitter. The pitching replacements available to Manager Ralph Houk were all Giant cousins.
The big Giant effort was delivered by young Chuck Hiller with two out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Two innings before, Hiller had struck out with the bases full. This time he swung lustily at a Marshall Bridges fast ball that promptly landed in the lap of a New York restaurant owner named Cappy Roselli sitting up front in the right-field stands. This was the first World Series grand slam home run ever hit by a National Leaguer. Six of the previous seven were hit by Yankees.
"Mah fast ball usely runs in on a left-handah," said Bridges. "This one fohgot to run." In a most unusual Series, it was one of the few pitches that didn't go where it was aimed.
Ford won the opener by a score of 6-2 over Billy O'Dell, who had started only once and relieved only once in the previous four days as the Giants scrambled frantically past the Dodgers to the National League pennant. He was, therefore, the most rested—or least un-rested—member of Alvin. Dark's pitching staff. But O'Dell was tired and he knew it. So did Manager Dark, but there was nothing he could do about it. And so did the Yankees—although it took them seven innings to cash in on the fact.
They led, briefly, 2-0 on Roger Maris' first-inning double that was a home run until Felipe Alou climbed up the right-field fence and pulled it back into the field of play (see page 20). But the Giants pecked away at Ford for a run in the second inning on three hits, the last of these a deftly executed bunt by Jose Pagan with Willie Mays on third. "I see third baseman play left field," said Pagan, "so I surprise heem. I surprise pitcher, too, no?"
The Giants tied it up in the third when Mays drove in a run with a clout into center field. In fact, for a while the ball game seemed to be shaping up as a duel between Ford and Mays. Wondrous Willie got three hits, one of them a viciously hooking ground ball through shortstop that Tony Kubek called "the hardest I have ever seen." Tony started toward his left, ended up reaching, in vain, toward his right as the ball shot past. "I thought you played that one beautifully," Bobby Richardson told Kubek later. "You managed not to get hit by it." Although Mays won the battle, it was Ford who won the war. He stopped the Giants after the third inning on four scattered singles, one by Mays, and even struck Willie out on a good fast ball tight across the letters his fourth time up. When Mays trotted to the bench, Ford had to grin.
One reason for the grin was that the Yankees had put him back in the lead in the seventh on Clete Boyer's lead-off homer to left. They scored three more runs against O'Dell, Don Larsen and Stu Miller in the eighth and ninth innings. Whitey's record World Series scoreless streak ended at 33[2/3] innings when Mays crossed the plate, an event that hardly left Ford in tears. "I'm glad it's over. That thing was beginning to bug me," he said.
Ford pitched well but no better than Ralph Terry on Friday. The only trouble was that Terry ran into Jack Sanford on what Sanford later evaluated as his greatest day. The Boston Irishman, who once worked as a chauffeur for Lou Perini of the Braves and spent seven years rattling around the minor leagues, went into the game with 24 National League victories, a bad cold and only two days' rest. He came out of the game with a cold and a magnificent three-hitter for his first World Series win. "The cold didn't bother me," he said between sniffles. "What did I do for it? I just blew my nose. But, man, was I nervous. About like I felt in my first game as a rookie. But I knew I had one thing in my favor. They wouldn't send me down to the minors this time, even if I lost."
Sanford was never in danger of losing—until the final out. The Giants scored a run in the first on Chuck Hiller's double, a sacrifice by Felipe Alou and Matty Alou's grounder to second base. In the seventh Willie McCovey hit a baseball that soared up into the wind over Candlestick Park's right field, somehow missed the helicopters and light planes that circled overhead all day, and finally fell to earth well beyond the fence, where Maris was watching in some disapproval.
"Ever hit one farther?" Willie was asked in the locker room after the game.
"Yep," said McCovey.
Maris had a chance to tie it up in the ninth after Mantle doubled. But Dark overshifted his infield to the right side, using Pagan, Hiller and Orlando Cepeda between first and second base. "Every ball I had seen Maris hit was to the right side," said Dark. "Maybe he'll hit 20 to the left tomorrow, but until he does we'll shift on him every time the Yankees need the long ball." Whether Alvin Dark is or is not a genius, he certainly earned a gold star. Maris sent a sizzling ground ball to the right of Cepeda for what would normally have been a single into right. The ball was hit so hard that Hiller didn't have much chance to move, but he didn't need to move far. He leaned over, plucked it off the ground and threw Maris out. The game was over, and Ralph Terry, with a two-hitter of his own working for six innings, could only shrug it off. As for Ralph Houk of the Yankees, he sat in his locker for a long time after the game, puffed on his cigar, grinned philosophically—and mentally stuck pins in a Giant doll.
An arm and a shin
The pins had less to do with what happened on Sunday than Bill Stafford's right arm and left shin. For 6½ innings, Stafford and Billy Pierce hooked up in a pitching contest that permitted a total of only three hits. Stafford walked two Giants in the first inning, then shut off the threat without a run and gave up only a harmless double to Jim Davenport and nothing more until the eighth. His good fast ball was sizzling and along with it he threw more curves and changeups than usual, keeping the Giants off balance, forcing them to hit the ball softly into the air or weakly along the ground.
Through six innings Pierce kept pace, stifling the Yankees on his big left-handed curve as he had back in the days when he pitched regularly in their league and won 189 games. But the Yankees, held to two hits this time, finally broke loose. Tom Tresh, leading off the seventh inning, singled. Mantle singled and when the ball took a high hop off Felipe Alou's glove, Tresh went to third and Mantle to second. This left first base open but, after a conference, Pierce and Dark decided not to walk Maris intentionally.
"I wasn't going to give him anything good," said Pierce. "I was going to throw him four balls outside; if he bit at them, fine, if not, that was O.K., too. I didn't mind walking him but I didn't want to give him anything good to hit. So what did I do? I put one pitch right over the plate." Maris drove it into right field, scoring Tresh and Mantle and went to second base when McCovey bobbled the ball. He raced to third on Elston Howard's fly ball to center, beating a throw from Mays. He remained there when Moose Skowron was hit by a pitch. And he scored on a double-play ball that was bobbled, momentarily, by Chuck Hiller. The famed Yankee luck had returned to normal, which means for the better, and the three runs meant the ball game.
Stafford had to do more than pitch in the Giant half of the eighth. Pagan led off with a single and was forced by Pinch Hitter Matty Alou. Then a ball came rifling back at Stafford off the bat of Felipe Alou. It smashed into his left shin and bounced 15 feet in front of the mound. Stafford pounced like a cat, threw to first base to beat Alou by a stride and then sat down. The Yankee trainer ran out, followed by Houk. Teammates gathered around. They supplied smelling salts and sympathy and advice, but the thing that brought Stafford back to his feet was his own stubborn, cocky pride. He grabbed the ball, waved everyone aside and threw two violent, testing pitches to the plate. Then he motioned to plate Umpire Stan Landes to get the game going again and made Chuck Hiller ground out to second base.
The Giants finally scored off Stafford with two out in the ninth. Mays banged a double down the left-field line leading off the inning, and three batters later Ed Bailey hit a fast ball hard enough to beat Maris to the short right-field seats. It was clear that Stafford's leg was hurting; he was limping after each pitch. But after Bailey's home run, he had to throw only a few more pitches. The last of these went into the hands of Tom Tresh in left field for the final out.
"Did I consider taking him out?" said Ralph Houk. "No. There wasn't any blood showing, was there?" Then he grinned. "I really was worried," he admitted, "but how could you take out a boy who was pitching a great game in the World Series like that?" How indeed? Especially in a pitchers' World Series like this one.