It was a cheerful, old-fashioned World Series, with plenty of hitting, some very good pitching, a nice selection of heroic plays and a few totally unexpected heroes. The first two games seemed lop-sided, if you looked only at the scores, but they were tight and tense until the Cardinals, in the opening game, and the Yanks, in the second one, pulled away in the late innings. The third and fourth games were squeakers all the way—one-run victories with the winning run in each case a homer by precisely the man the team depends on most: Mickey Mantle for New York, Ken Boyer for St. Louis. Otherwise, neither dominated the scene, because this was turning out to be a Series in which many of the leading characters were younger men, newer faces—rookies like Mike Shannon and Mel Stottlemyre, almost-rookies like Tim McCarver, who won the fifth game in the 10th inning, hitherto obscure figures like Carl Warwick. For William Leggett's day-by-day account, turn the page.
The first game of the 61st World Series was distinguished by the presence of two third basemen named Boyer, two umpires named Smith and two St. Louis managers—one of them employed by the Yankees. There was also a record-tying number of hits for a first game, 24, partially caused by a 20-mile-an-hour wind; the Cardinals used 11 of their 12 to put men in scoring position, and they won 9-5.
A Series in Busch Stadium brought back odd memories to the opposing managers. Thirty-eight years ago, when Johnny Keane was 14, he had stood in line for six hours to buy a bleacher seat at the stadium for the first Series game to be played in St. Louis. Yogi Berra recalled that he had mowed lawns and run errands so he could afford a seat behind home plate when the old Browns had played the Yankees.
October 18, 1964
Before Keane and Berra met formally at home plate the St. Louis starters had met in their clubhouse high above the field and discussed how they could beat Whitey Ford, the winningest pitcher (10-7) in Series history. Their overwhelming conclusion was that because Ford does not walk hitters in big games they would have to swing at pitches early in his sequences. This strategy began to work in the second inning, with the Yankees leading 3-1. Shannon hit the first pitch thrown to him for a single, McCarver popped up on a first pitch, Maxvill trickled a second pitch to the mound that moved Shannon to second, and Sadecki, after being forced to check his swing on a high pitch, drove the next one to right field to bring in Shannon. Although New York got another run and went ahead 4-2, the Cardinal strategy won the game in the fifth.
Boyer singled on the first pitch but Shannon, ready to swing on his first one, had to take it far inside. He then hit the next one 475 feet for a tying homer. After Tim McCarver doubled, Pinch Hitter Carl Warwick lined the first pitch from Reliever Al Downing to left, and the Cards were never behind again.
The Yankee infielders had some trouble with the exceptionally hard Busch Stadium infield, where ground balls often do not bounce truly, and the outfielders were bothered by the wind and sun. (Cardinal outfielders use different shades of sunglasses as a game progresses.) Tresh lost Flood's fly ball in the sun in the sixth, and it went for a triple, scoring Javier; Mantle overthrew home on Sadecki's single in the second, and Shannon scored.
What may have been the game's decisive play occurred in the second when, with one out, the Yankees had Ford on second and Linz on first. They had already scored three runs and seemed on the way to a big inning. Richardson lined a hit to left, and Ford, burdened by a windbreaker and a slow runner at best, came into third and was waved on by Coach Frank Crosetti. As Cardinal Fielder Brock threw home, Third Baseman Boyer moved into position as if to cut it off, thus holding Linz at second. Brock's throw was perfect, and Ford was out at home by many feet. The Yankees might have had the bases loaded with one out and Maris, Mantle and Howard coming up. With two out and Linz and Richardson on base, Maris struck out.
If the game seemed to indicate that this Series would belong to the hitters, one Cardinal at least had a different view. Dick Groat sat by his locker sipping a beer afterward and said, "Every Series, just like every season, is decided by pitching, and I refuse to believe this one will not be."
A rather unkind saying circulates around the American League: "They shot the wrong McKinley." It reflects the players' frequent disagreement with calls by William Francis McKinley, the 54-year-old umpire who is second in point of service among all umpires in his league. After McKinley's call in the sixth inning of the second game, the saying was going the rounds of National League players, too.
The score was tied 1-1 with the Yankees' Joe Pepitone at bat and a runner on first base. McKinley, umpiring behind the plate, held that a pitch from Cardinal right-hander Bob Gibson hit Pepitone on the right thigh. Later, Pepitone said that the pitch hit him on the left thigh. The Cardinals maintained all along that the pitch never hit Pepitone at all, and they put up a long and loud argument. Right or wrong, McKinley's decision resulted in the Yankees' second run; later they got six more to win 8-3 and even the Series.
The Cardinals might argue about McKinley's call, but they had to agree that the hero of the game was tall, gaunt Mel Stottlemyre, the 22-year-old Yankee rookie right-hander. Stottlemyre, brought up in August from Richmond, won nine games—every one of them needed to give New York its fifth consecutive pennant—and he did something in his first Series game that few National League pitchers had been able to accomplish all season. He stopped cold the first five Cards in the batting order. These five—Flood, Brock, White, Boyer and Groat—are all genuine .300 hitters. In 18 at bats against Stottlemyre they drove only three balls out of the infield and only one was a hit—a triple in the ninth inning by Groat when the Yankees were leading 8-2.
What Groat had said after the first game proved to be exactly right in the second. The Yankees had Stottlemyre and the Cardinals got only so-so pitching from Gibson and horrendous work from a bullpen that allowed four runs in a single inning of work. Gibson started strong, striking out five Yankees in the first two innings, a performance reminiscent of Sandy Koufax's first two innings against the Yankees last year. The Cardinals went ahead 1-0 in the third, but the Yankees tied it in the fourth and went ahead in the sixth after McKinley's call.
Stottlemyre lived up to his reputation as a low-ball specialist, keeping his pitches around the Cardinals' knees all afternoon. He forced the Cardinals to hit the ball on the ground 16 times, and the Yankee infield had no trouble this time with ground balls. The most impressive thing about Stottlemyre, however, was his poise on the two occasions when he was in serious trouble. Ken Boyer, who often looked bad swinging at Stottlemyre's low pitches, said: "That kid was more effective when he got behind on our hitters than when he was ahead of them. And he got hit hard twice by balls hit back at him, but he never got rattled. That's what impressed me the most. It had to impress anybody."
Pushing his teammate for honors was Phil Linz, who had three hits, one a homer, and a superb day afield. But it was Roger Maris who came up with the best fielding play of the first two games. Running hard, he made a one-handed catch of a drive by McCarver, hit the wall but held on to the ball. It wasn't really necessary, as things turned out, but it was a jewel in its own right.
Elston Howard sat on the short gray stool in his dressing cubicle at Yankee Stadium late Saturday afternoon. "I've been a Yankee for 10 years," he said, "and this is my ninth World Series, covering I don't know how many games . But this game was the most exciting one I've ever seen, because of the way it was played and the way it ended."
Since the Yankees won this one, Howard may be forgiven some prejudices. Certainly Pittsburgh fans would argue that Bill Mazeroski's ninth-inning homer in 1960 provided more excitement than the ninth-inning homer by Mantle that beat the Cardinals 2-1 last Saturday. But both were highly dramatic moments, and this third game was also a thriller all the way.
Curt Simmons and Jim Bouton pitched extremely well, and five outstanding plays were made in the infield. The Cardinals had the go-ahead run on third base in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings but could not bring it in. The Yankees were bothered by Simmons' off-speed pitches. He forced them to hit 17 balls to infielders for outs. Bouton did not strike out as many hitters as he normally does but he got the Cardinals to hit the ball almost exactly where he wanted them to hit it. The first five Cards in the order had two hits in 21 times at bat and one of those was an infield single by White, his only hit in 11 tries in the Series.
Still, after all the close plays and tight pitching, the classic moment came with the score tied in the bottom of the ninth and Mantle at bat against Barney Schultz. Schultz had come in after Simmons left for a pinch hitter in the top of the inning. Probably more than any other player, Schultz was responsible for the Cardinals' first pennant in 18 years. Keane had recalled him from Jacksonville on Aug. 1 when the Cards needed bullpen help desperately, and his knuckle ball saved 11 games and won one through the Cardinals' late surge.
Keane felt Schultz was his most reliable reliever, and the two-month record indicates he was right. In 20 years of baseball Schultz has been with 18 teams, some of them two or three times; when Keane sent him to Jacksonville early this year, he was almost ready to quit. All the St. Louis players were sorry to see him go, because he is a pleasant 38-year-old with a fine sense of humor. They put the oversize mitt that had been used to catch his knuckler in the team's mailbox under his name, and every day when they came to work it served to remind them of an old pro's dedication.
Schultz threw just one pitch to Mantle—"a knuckler that didn't knuckle"—and Mantle hit it into the third tier of the right-field stands. Schultz stood on the mound, looking in toward home plate for a long moment, and then he slowly walked to the dressing room, sat down and cried.
Mantle's homer was his 16th in Series competition, and it broke Babe Ruth's record. If it seems that a long string of Yankees have been winning Series games with homers in the bottom of the ninth inning, the fact is that Mantle's was only the second in 161 Series games. "When I hit the ball," he said, "I thought it might go foul." It was fair by 40 feet.
As quick as you can say Linz, Richardson, Maris and Mantle—all of whom got consecutive hits—starting Pitcher Ray Sadecki was out of the fourth game and the Yankees had a 2-0 lead. Keane brought in Roger Craig, and Howard hit Craig's first pitch for a single to right center, making the score 3-0 but also driving in the last Yankee run of the game. Thereafter, except for a brief lapse in the third, Craig's curve worked beautifully; 17 of 22 pitches following Howard's hit were strikes. The day before the Series started, Carolyn Craig had said in St. Louis: "Roger has three World Series rings already, and when he gets the fourth he can line them up just like the Beatles." Whatever Craig does with the fourth ring, he earned it.
In the third, with two out, he walked Mantle and Howard but made up for that quickly. Pitching to Tresh, he noticed that Mantle was taking such a long lead off second that he could see daylight between Mantle and Groat's right hip. The pickoff went on: Craig wheeled and threw to second, and Groat made a good tag on Mantle's hand for the third out of what might have been another disastrous inning for St. Louis.
Craig struck out three Yankees in the fourth and had an easy fifth before Keane pulled him for a pinch hitter at the start of the sixth. He felt he was doing too well to come out, but pitchers who hit like Roger Craig are not often allowed to lead off a World Series inning when their team is three runs behind.
Carl Warwick went up instead and singled for his third pinch hit of the Series, tying a record. Flood followed with a single that moved Warwick to second and, after an out, Groat hit a bouncer to Richardson. As he hit the ball Groat said to himself, "There goes a double play." Richardson moved well on the ball, but it stuck momentarily in his glove; his late flip to Linz, covering second, went over Linz's left shoulder and the Cards had the bases loaded with one out and Boyer coming to bat.
Downing's second pitch to Boyer was a high changeup, and Boyer was expecting it, because Downing had struck him out with the same pitch in the first game. He drove it into the left-field stands for a grand slam homer, and the Cardinals had a 4-3 lead. Lanky Ron Taylor replaced Craig and, using the hazy, checkered background to perfect advantage ("The worst background I've ever hit against," Groat said later), he pitched right to the Yankee power and got 12 of the last 13 batters out. No one could see the ball well, and only Roger Maris hit it hard. Maris slammed a grounder back at Taylor in the eighth, and Taylor partially deflected it. Groat, shading over toward second, picked up the flight of the ball as it came off Maris' bat. He went three steps to the right of second base, lunged and got the ball, swiveled quickly and threw Maris out. It was the best play of the series so far, and the fourth good one by Groat.
"When the Yankees got those three runs in the first inning," said Flood in the clubhouse, "it whacked our butts. We play better when we have to come from behind, because we're a team that just keeps bouncing. We've been bouncing all year."
Bob Gibson came out for the fifth game remembering how he had started so strongly in St. Louis only to tire in the late innings. This time he paced himself beautifully, relying on his curve instead of his fast ball for a long spell. He struck out 12 Yankees, dominating the power hitters for 8 1/3 innings, cutting them down whenever there were runners in scoring position.
And he did more. It was Gibson who started the Cards on their two-run fifth inning by blooping a single to left. Tresh could not get a jump on the ball, and it dropped for what seemed like a sure double. As Gibson swept around first and headed for second, however, he fell and had to return to first. Flood then bounced to Richardson, who messed up a possible double play. Lou Brock, hitless in his last 14 times at bat, singled to right, scoring Gibson and moving Flood to third. ("Before the game," said Brock later, "I decided to try breaking my slump by standing up straight in the batter's box.") White scored Flood with a grounder for his first RBI of the Series.
Gibson's trouble in the ninth started with an error by Groat on Mantle's lead-off grounder. After it happened Groat said to himself, "Every error in this Series has turned out to be costly," and he was quickly proved right. Pepitone hit a liner that bounced off Gibson's hip, and the pitcher made an astounding recovery to throw him out. But Tresh then slammed a long homer into the right-field bleachers, and the game was tied.
It was a seeming lifesaver for the Yankees, but in the 10th the Cards bounced back again and Tim McCarver won the dramatic game with another homer, driving in White and Boyer. "I was just trying to hit it deep enough to score White from third," said McCarver. "I couldn't believe it. In the dugout I started laughing like a crazy man."
The Yankees, behind three games to two, were not laughing. Their expected edge in home-run hitting in the Stadium had not materialized. They had won one game with a homer, but St. Louis had won two the same way. The Yankees headed back to St. Louis with a long hill to climb.