Both teams were the offensive leaders in their respective leagues. The Giants had scored 878 runs that season and with the second best pitching staff in the National League, gave them a +188 run differential. The Yankees scored 817 runs in 1962 and had the fourth best pitching staff in the American League. They had a +137 run differential. Both teams featured eight players with double-digit homer totals.
And both teams had second year managers. Ralph Houk had been given the job in 1961 after Casey Stengel was fired after bringing the Yankees to seven world titles in his twelve years as the manager. And Houk couldn’t have had a better situation in 1961 when Mickey Mantle an Roger Maris had their famous home run battle as the Yankees cruised to the world title that season.
The Giants were under the leadership of Al Dark, their former star shortstop who was a part of their 1954 championship club. Dark finished his playing days in 1960 as a member of the Milwaukee Braves and became the Giants’ manager in 1961. The Giants had improved under Dark from a fifth place team in 1960 to third place in 1961. The Giants then hit a groove under Dark in 1962 and won 103 games that season.
And, of course, both teams had superstar center fielders. Mickey Mantle was plagued by nagging injuries in 1962 and played just 123 games. But they were a sensational 123 games and he won the MVP Award that season after Roger Maris had captured that award in 1960 and 1961. Maris had a very good followup to those seasons in 1962 but was nowhere near as dominant as he had been the two years before. Willie Mays was in the prime of his career and in one of the most horrific award voting of all time, came in second in the MVP race in 1962 to Maury Wills. Wills did steal over 100 bases that season but he was nowhere near the player that Mays was that season. No one was.
Despite the powerhouses both of these two teams were that season, the World Series of 1962 became about pitching. The Yankees hit a paltry .199 during the series with an OPS of .549. They hit only three homers in the seven contests. The Giants did little better. They hit five homers in the series but finished with a .622 OPS for the series. The two superstars were pretty much non-factors. Mantle went three for twenty-five in the series with no homers and no runs batted in. Mays did a little better and hit .250 in the series with two doubles and one run driven in. But both were pretty much neutralized as pitching dominated the series from start to finish.
The Yankees under Ralph Houk were run quite differently than under Stengel. Casey liked to mix and match players and pitchers based on situations. Houk set his lineups and his rotations in stone and that was it. Therefore, the 1962 Yankees had basically a three-man pitching rotation of Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry and young Bill Stafford. Those three started 109 games between them. Youngsters, Jim Bouton and Rollie Shelton started sixteen games apiece. But neither of those two would pitch in the World Series. Whitey Ford started three games, Ralph Terry started three and Stafford started the other one. In fact, amazingly, the Yankees used only six pitchers the entire series! The team only employed five relief outings in seven games.
The Giants relied on four very good starters in 1962 in Billy O’Dell, Billy Pierce, Juan Marichal and Jack Sanford. Sanford would go 24-7 that season. The Giants would use only twelve pitchers the entire 1962 season. Seven of those pitched in the World Series.
The Giants had home field advantage and the series began in Candlestick Park on October 4, 1962. That was fifty years ago yesterday. Whitey Ford started for the Yankees and Billy O’Dell started for the Giants. O’Dell gave up two runs to the Yankees in the first inning but then settled down. The Giants would even up the score with single runs in the second and third innings off of Ford, but then he clamped down and the score remained 2-2 until the seventh inning. In the top of that frame, Clete Boyer, the Yankees’ third baseman, led off the inning with a booming homer off of O’Dell to give the Yankees the lead. The Yankees would score two more runs in the top of the eighth and Ford picked up the complete game victory, 5-2.
The win by the Yankees effectively erased the home field advantage. But the Giants were far from done as a team. Jack Sanford completely shut down the Yankees in the second game and out-dueled Ralph Terry as the Giants won, 2-0. Sanford went the distance and only allowed the Yankees three hits the entire game. Terry was nearly as good, but made two mistakes. The first turned into a Willie McCovey homer in the first inning and the other was a double to Chuck Hiller who would later score on a Matty Alou single. The Giants tied the series with one game for each team.
The two teams traveled back to New York and after an off day, the series resumed at Yankee Stadium for Game Three. Bill Stafford would get his only World Series start and the 22 year old could not have pitched a better game. He blanked the Giants for eight innings, allowing only two hits. Billy Pierce was just as good for the first six innings as he too allowed only two hits to the Yankees, whose scoreless streak reached fifteen innings by the end of the sixth.
But Pierce gave up three straight singles to start the seventh and was hurt by his defense at the same time. Rookie of the Year, Tom Tresh led off the inning with a single to center. Mickey Mantle followed with a single to left which was botched by Felipe Alou to put runners at second and third. Roger Maris then hit a single to right to score Tresh and Mantle and Willie McCovey misplayed that single allowing Maris to take second. Maris would then go to third, tagging on an Elston Howard fly ball and scored on a Clete Boyer ground out. The Yankees had a 3-0 lead.
Stafford would give two of those runs back in the top of the ninth. Willie Mays doubled and then catcher, Ed Bailey, homered. But Houk left the youngster in there and Stafford would end his complete game with a fly ball out by Jim Davenport. The Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the series.
Whitey Ford started Game Four for the Yankees and faced Juan Marichal. The Giants jumped out to an early 2-0 lead as Tom Haller hit a two-run homer in the top of the second. It was the second straight game the Yankees were victimized by homers by Giants’ catchers. Marichal shut the Yankees out for four innings but was replaced starting the bottom of the fifth by Bobby Bolin.
Bolin had a shaky first inning but wiggled out of trouble. Moose Skowron and Clete Boyer led off the fifth with singles to give the Yankees a first and third situation with no outs. Whitey Ford then hit the ball to the first baseman who threw Skowron out at home. Tony Kubek then reached on an error at third by Jim Davenport to load the bases. But Bolin got out of the jam when Bobby Richardson grounded into a double play.
But Bolin wasn’t so lucky in the sixth inning. After he started the sixth with a strikeout of Tom Tresh, he walked both Mantle and Maris. Elston Howard flew out for the second out, but Skowron and Tresh both singled to plate Mantle and Maris successively. Don Larson…yes that Don Larson…relieved Bolin and got the last out. But the game was now tied at two runs apiece.
For the first time in the series, the Yankees dipped into their bullpen in the top of the seventh and it did not work out very well. Jim Coates started the inning and walked Jim Davenport. Matty Alou pinch hit for Jose Pagan and hit a double to make it first and third with one out. Marshall Bridges replaced Coates and was instructed to intentionally walk pinch hitter, Bob Nieman, to load the bases. It looked like Bridges might be able to get out of the inning as Harvey Kuenn popped out to Boyer for the second out. But the next batter, Chuck Hiller, hit a grand slam for the decisive blow of the game.
Each team would score one more run, but the Giants won the game, 7-3. Don Larson, the man who threw the only Perfect Game in World Series history for the Yankees, got the win for the Giants by getting his one man in the bottom of the sixth. Coates took the loss and the series was even again, 2-2.
Ralph Terry would pitch Game Five for the Yankees and Game Two hero, Jack Sanford, started for the Giants. Both pitchers pitched well and the game was tied going into the eighth inning, 2-2. But Sanford ran out of gas in the eighth. Singles by Kubek and Richardson with one out brought Tom Tresh to the plate. Tresh began the season as the Yankees’ opening day shortstop as Kubek was fulfilling a military obligation. It was the last time a rookie shortstop had started a Opening Day game until Derek Jeter did so in 1996. Tresh would later play the outfield when Kubek returned at the end of the season. But Tresh had a superb rookie season and finished with an .800 OPS. And he became a World Series hero in this eighth inning at bat. Tresh hit a Sanford pitch deep into the seats in right for a three-run homer.
Terry would give up a run in the ninth, but he completed the game and the series was sent back to San Francisco with the Yankees holding a 3-2 series edge.
Back in Candlestick Park, Billy Pierce pitched a fantastic game to allow the Giants to even the series at three games apiece. Whitey Ford, one of the greatest World Series pitchers of all time simply did not have it in this game and gave up three runs in the fourth. He and Coates allowed two more in the fifth and Pierce coasted the rest of the way. Roger Maris did manage to hit a homer, but his drive was one of only three hits the entire game for the Yankees. The two teams were headed to a seventh game showdown.
And what a thrilling game it was. Ralph Terry pitched the game of his life with a complete game victory as the Yankees won, 1-0. Jack Sanford pitched brilliantly as well. His only blemish of the game was to load the bases in the fifth inning with no outs. His only run allowed that game was scored on a double-play ball hit by Tony Kubek. Sanford would finish the World Series with an ERA of 1.93 but would lose two of three decisions to Terry. Terry, for his shutout and 2-1 record in the series was named the series MVP. But the award could have gone to Tresh or Boyer as both had a terrific series.
The thrilling World Series was the end of an era for the Yankees. Yogi Berra was at the end of the line and won his tenth World Series ring. 37 at the time, he had only four plate appearances the entire series and walked twice and went without a hit in his two at bats. The Yankees would go to the World Series again in 1963 and 1964 but did not win. The ’62 series was the last hurrah for the Mantle and Ford era and the team would not win another World Series for fifteen years. It was a wonderful World Series full of drama and it brought Willie Mays back to New York. Both Mays and Mantle would not play much of a role in the 1962 series. That series was about two pitching staffs that silenced the best offenses in the game.