The Yankees and the San Francisco Giants, two teams with shared decades of history, meet up on the West Coast this weekend for a three-game series. They have met in the World Series seven times – 1921, 1922, 1923, 1936, 1937, 1951, and 1962 – with the Giants capturing the first two titles before the Yankees took the next five World Series meetings.
Currently, the teams are going in opposite directions. The Yankees are contenders this season (despite breaks, pulls, tears, and other assorted maladies), while the Giants are in the midst of a retool/rebuilding process.
The Bombers are skippered by second-year manager Aaron Boone, while the Giants’ Bruce Bochy is in his 13th and final season with the Giants. He is retiring after 25 years (12 with the San Diego Padres) and three World Series rings as a manager.
The Bochy-led 2010 Giants snapped a 56-year World Series title drought with a five-game victory over the Texas Rangers. The World Series appearance was just the second for the Giants since the Yankees and Giants met in the 1962 Fall Classic.
What better way to spend a #FlashbackFriday than taking a look back at one of the most memorable World Series on record.
Here Come the Yankees
The 1999 Yankees will be celebrated at Yankee Stadium this May with a special Bat Day promotion. They were a team that had the unenviable task of following one of the greatest Yankees teams of all time. They came through on their own – albeit a lot of the roster was the same – and won the franchise’s 25th World Series title.
The 1962 Yankees had the same difficult follow-up situation to navigate. The 1961 squad was also one of the greatest teams of all time. They dominated the American League to capture the pennant and easily beat the Cincinnati Reds in a five-game World Series.
They set the Major League team record for home runs, had the best pitcher in the American League in Whitey Ford, and of course, they had the newly-minted single-season home run leader in Roger Maris.
The 1962 season didn’t hold the drama of the Maris-Mantle chase of Babe Ruth’s ghost, but the team was the last Yankees’ World Series champions until Reggie Jackson’s 3-home run night 15 years later.
Fans booed Maris during his record-breaking season, so you can just imagine how they reacted when the quiet, unassuming right fielder hit just 33 home runs in 1962 and saw his RBI total drop from 141 to 100. Mantle saw a big drop off too (54 HR to 30, 124 RBI to 89), but he led the American League in On-Base Percentage, Slugging, Walks, hit .321, won his first and only Gold Glove Award and captured his third and final AL MVP Award.
2nd baseman Bobby Richardson finished second to Mantle in the MVP voting after he hit .302 and displayed defense that earned him the second of his five career Gold Glove Awards. Ellie Howard (21) and Moose Skowron (23) topped the 20-HR mark once again and the Yankees thought they had their next great star in Tom Tresh won the AL Rookie of the Year Award after he hit .286-20-93 as the primary shortstop and part-time left fielder.
On the mound, Ford, who had broken Ruth’s World Series record for consecutive scoreless innings in 1961, won 17 games and pitched to a 2.90 ERA. Ralph Terry picked up 23 wins and Bill Stafford added 14. Lefty Marshall Bridges won eight games and saved 14 more, and Luis Arroyo, who finished sixth in the ’61 AL MVP voting, added seven saves.
After 61 games, the Yankees stood just five games over .500 and in fourth place. Despite their standing, the team sat only four games out of first place, well within striking distance. On July 14, they salvaged the finale of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels to take over sole possession of first place in the AL and never looked back. They finished with 96 wins, just seven less than the ’61 team.
They were Giants
Out on the west coast, the San Francisco Giants made it to the World Series for the first time in eight years and for the first time since leaving Coogan’s Bluff in NYC for the City by the Bay.
Just as Mantle was the face of the Yankees, the Giants were led by their centerfielder, Willie Mays. The “Say Hey Kid” smacked 49 home runs in ’62 and drove in a career-high 141 runs. Yet he finished second in the NL MVP voting (by seven votes) to Dodgers’ shortstop Maury Wills (Wills had swiped a Major League record 104 bases, scored 130 times, and had 208 hits). Mays also captured the sixth of his 12 straight Gold Glove Awards. But Mays wasn’t the only offensive dynamo on the ’62 Giants. 1st Baseman Orlando Cepeda added 35 home runs and 114 RBI, while Felipe Alou contributed 25 homers and 98 RBI.
The Giants moved into first place on April 28 and held their ground into early June with a 40-17 (.702) record. But their cohorts in leaving NYC, the LA Dodgers, were right on their heels and passed them on June 8. The Giants would move back into first place a handful of times over the next month, but the Dodgers held a 5.5 game lead on August 8. San Francisco then went on a 28-12 tear and trailed the Dodgers by one game as they entered the regular season’s final day.
The circumstances were similar to the 1951 season when the Giants trailed the Brooklyn Dodgers by 4.5 games with seven games remaining. The two teams finished tied for first, which led to a three-game playoff. After splitting the first two games, the Giants won Game 3 on Bobby Thompson’s “Shot heard ’round the world” home run.
Fast forward 11 years and the Giants trailed LA by four games with seven to play. Once again the teams finished in a tie for first and settled things in a best two-of-three playoff series. Just like years earlier, the two teams split the first two games and then the Giants broke the Dodgers’ hearts again.
San Francisco pulled out a 6-4 victory with former Yankee hero Don Larsen, who threw a perfect game against Brooklyn in the ’56 series, getting the victory.
The World Series
The Series opened by the Golden Gate Bridge with Ford facing off against 19-game winner Billy O’Dell. The game was tied 2-2 when 3rd baseman Clete Boyer hit a solo home run off of O’Dell to give the Yankees the lead for good. New York added three runs more for a 6-2 final as Ford tossed a complete game and Maris and Boyer drove in two runs each. In his first World Series appearance in six years, Willie Mays had three hits and an RBI.
Giants’ 24-game-winner Jack Sanford dominated the Yankees in Game 2, holding them to just three hits in a 2-0 shutout. Sanford, who finished second in the NL Cy Young voting to Don Drysdale, was handed a 1-0 lead in the 1st inning and McCovey added some insurance with a solo home run off of Terry in the 7th. The teams headed back to New York tied at a game apiece.
New York, New York
Game 3 marked the Giants first World Series game back in the Big Apple since they won the 1954 championship. The Yankee Stadium contest saw the Yankees’ Stafford go up against San Fran lefty Billy Pierce, who was in his first season with the Giants after pitching for 15 years in the American League.
The game was a scoreless pitcher’s duel until the bottom of the 7th inning when Tresh, Mantle, and Maris stroked consecutive singles. Tresh scored easily and Mantle followed him home when McCovey misplayed the ball in right field. The error also allowed Maris to reach second base. Giants’ manager Alvin Dark went to the pen for Larsen, who before coming to the Giants had been dealt to Kansas City following the 1959 season as part of the trade that brought Maris to New York.
Maris advanced to third on a fly out and scored two batters later when Boyer grounded out for a 3-0 Yankees advantage. Stafford allowed just two hits through the first eight innings and staved off a late rally for a 3-2 win.
Game 4 saw two future Hall of Fame members duke it out; the Giants’ 24-yr old Juan Marichal, and Ford, who was appearing in his eighth World Series. Catcher Tom Haller gave the Giants a 2-0 lead with a home run in the 2nd inning and the game stayed that way until the Yankees evened things up in the 6th on RBI singles by Boyer and Skowron. New York had a chance to take the lead, but Larsen retired Tony Kubek with the bases loaded to keep the game tied 2-2.
Jim Coates came on in the 7th for the Yankees and quickly got himself into trouble. He issued a leadoff walk to Davenport and one out later, gave up a double to Matty Alou. “The Major”, manager Ralph Houk, brought in Bridges to try to clean up Coates’ mess. After an intentional walk to Bob Nieman, Bridges got the second out on a pop up by veteran Harvey Kuenn, but Chuck Hiller made Bridges’ day a nightmare. The 2nd baseman hit only 20 home runs in an eight-year career, but none would be bigger than the grand slam he hit off Bridges to tie the series at two games apiece. The Giants went on to a 7-3 win and Larsen earned his fourth career Series victory, six years to the day since he pitched his perfect game.
Best 2 of 3
Game 5 was a rematch of Game 2 starters Sanford and Terry. 63,165 fans in Yankee Stadium saw the Giants strike first on a Jose Pagan single and a Hiller double in the top of the 3rd. But, the Yankees quickly tied it up in the 4th when Sanford wild-pitched in a run.
Pagan went deep off of Terry in the 5th to give the Giants the lead back, but another miscue tied things up once again in the 6th for the Yankees. Richardson reached on a single, moved to third on a sac bunt and a ground out, and scored on Haller’s passed ball.
The game remained tied until the home half of the 8th when Kubek and Richardson reached on back-to-back singles off of Sanford. That brought up the switch-hitting Tresh, one of the few young guys on a team full of veterans. Batting from the left side against the right-handed Sanford, Tresh took advantage of the short porch in right field and launched a go-ahead three-run home run.
Haller doubled in a run in the 9th to bring the tying run to the plate, but Terry retired Pagan and Bailey to nail down the win. The two teams headed back to San Francisco with the Yankees on the verge of another championship.
Rain Rain Go Away
Rain had caused Game 5 to be delayed by one day, but the two teams had to wait for four days for Game 6 after pouring rain hit the West Coast. The field at Candlestick Park was so soggy that helicopters were brought in to help dry things out.
Ford, who started games one and four, got the ball to try and close things out when play resumed on the 15th of October. Instead of three days rest, Ford worked on double the amount. Dark countered with Pierce, who was 12-0 on his home field. The move paid off as the 35-yr old veteran retired the first 13 Yankees to start the game. Ford blanked the Giants for three innings but got touched up in the 4th.
A one-out single by Felipe Alou and a walk to Mays put two aboard. Ford’s errant pickoff throw to second allowed Alou to score the first run of the game. Cepeda followed with an RBI double and scored on a Davenport single for a 3-0 Giants advantage.
The Giants sent Ford to an early shower and evened the series at three games apiece, 5-2. Though he split his two decisions in the Series, Pierce allowed just four earned runs and eight hits in 15 innings, while compiling a 0.667 WHIP.
The Grand Finale
Game 7 came down to the third face-off between the Yankees’ Terry and the Giants’ Sanford. Just like his teammate Pierce, Sanford was dominant in his home ballpark. His 14-1 record in 17 starts (with a 2.82 ERA) during the regular season was topped off by the complete game 3-hitter he spun in Game 2. The last time Terry was on the mound in a Game 7, he watched Bill Mazeroski’s Series’ winning home run sail over Berra’s head and the left field wall for Pittsburgh in 1960. Two years later, Terry wanted redemption… and that’s exactly what he got.
With Larsen watching from the other dugout, Terry retired the first 15 batters he faced. Sanford was doing his part for the hometown team as well. He put four goose eggs up on the board before the Yankees loaded the bases with no one out in the 5th.
Confident his team would break through, and to prevent a big inning, Dark played his infield back. The move paid dividends when Sanford got Kubek to bounce into a twin killing. Though a run scored, the threat of a big inning was over. Little did anyone know that when Skowron crossed home plate it would be the only run of the game.
Sanford himself broke up the perfect game with a two-out single in the 6th, but Terry set down Felipe Alou to end the frame. McCovey reached on a two-out triple in the 7th, but Terry struck out Cepeda to keep the tying run 90 feet away. Billy O’Dell got Sanford out of a jam in the top of the 8th and Terry retired the side in order when the Giants had their turn to bat. Everything came down to the bottom of the 9th and the Giants refused to go quietly.
Matty Alou reached on a drag bunt single, just the third hit of the day for San Francisco, to start off the Giants’ last licks. Terry only finished with four strikeouts on the day, but half came in the 9th as he put away Matty’s older brother Felipe and Chuck Hiller in consecutive order. With his team down to their final out, Mays ripped a double into the right field corner. Maris, who never got enough credit for his defense, quickly retrieved the ball and fired to Richardson, who in turn threw home. The quick relay caused Alou to hold up at third base with the tying run.
That left things in the powerful hands of McCovey. “Stretch” entered the game 3-14, but had tripled in the game and had homered earlier in the series. The big first baseman/outfielder was on the verge of stardom (he would hit 40 dingers the next year), but as it turned out, he was playing in the only World Series of his 22-year career. McCovey was inches away from being a hero. He hit a ball about as hard as humanly possible…right at 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson to end the series. The Yankees were champions once again.
The game erased some of the bad memories of 1960 for Terry, who was awarded the Series MVP Award. He finished 2-1, 1.80 in the Series, and saved his best for last. Dark defended his third base coach Whitey Lockman after the game for holding Alou at third on Mays’ double. “No, I don’t think Matty would have made it.” Had McCovey’s liner gone through the infield, it would not have mattered.