Tuesday, October 25, 2011

World Series: Did You Know?

Joe Carter hit four World Series home runs.

And all of them have special meaning to me.

They all came of left-handed pitchers.

His first one, was in the Toronto Blue Jays very first World Series game back in 1992. I remember it well, because it was the only run the Jays got as the Atlanta Braves won a pitcher's duel between Jack Morris (20 game winner) and Tom Glavine (also a 20 game winner). So it was the first homerun by a Toronto Blue Jay in a World Series.

His next one put the Jays ahead, again! This time, right there at home. Game 3.

So in the bottom of the fourth inning, Joe Carter came up, as everyone tried to settle down. And he promptly smacked the first pitch by Steve Avery for a homerun. It was the first homerun ever hit on Canadian turf in a World Series. The Jays eventually won the game 3-2. And the Jays would go on to win the World Series, 4-2.

The Jays were back the next year to take on the Philadelphia Philies. And this time, the Jays took the opener, 8-5. But in the second game, against Terry Mulholland, the Jays got behind 5-0, and Carter came to bat with Paul Molitor on first.

On the fourth pitch, he smacked at 2-1 pitch to left. And it was out of here! 5-2. Joe was letting 'em know this game had a long way to go!

The Jays were back in the game, but they still lost by a final score of 6-4.

Carter's next home run was off Mitch Williams in game 6, but you don't need to know about that, do you?


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 25 Oct. 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Elston Howard

The man behind the plate.

Howard, the first black Bronx Bomber, was stationed behind the plate for 111 games in 1961 despite the presence of Yogi Berra and Johnny Blanchard.

His month of April was seemingly uneventful, but he just kept getting hits, but no homeruns or RBIs!

Yet he scored a run in his first three games, and had back to back two hit games. First on April 21st against the Orioles, Ellie was 2-4, then the next day even better, 2-3.

Howard got his first RBI on the 26th against Detroit, helping the Yankees to a wild 13-11 win. But it would be his only RBI of the month.

However, steady Ellie kept hitting and was 2-4 the next day against the Tribe to raise his average to an incredible .435!

An 0-4 performance against the lowly Senators on the 30th, dropped his average on the season to .370. Hal Woodeshick and Dave Sisler shut him down. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris both failed to hit a homerun, and the Yankees lost 4-3.

May would be a better. RBIs were suddenly not needed as Howard had 4 in his first three games that month. And by the end of that third game for Ellie on this month, his average was an even .400!

On May 17th, he got his second 3 hit game of the month, and New York lost again to the Sens despite another RBI by the catcher.

He got just one more RBI that month, but got 6 hits in his last four games, including a pinch hit on May 24th. He had raised his .370 average at the end of April to .391 by the end of May.

What about the longball? In order to get there we need to get through three, three hit games on June 4th (3 RBI), 5th (second game of a doubleheader) and 8th (again, the second game of a doubleheader. And he collected a double, a triple and scored twice).

His first homerun came June 17th and it was part of another 3 hit game. And it was part of another wild game, lost by the Yankees to Detroit, 12-10.

The Yankees went into the top of the 9th, trailing 12-5.

But Clete Boyer went yard off Paul Foytack, and then Mantle waved his magic wand and belted a three run shot. Howard would face Bill Fischer, no stranger to milestone homeruns.

So it was Howard who hit his first off him, but Terry Fox retired Bill Skowron before the Yankees could get any closer.

Elston then hit a dramatic pinch hit longball on the 24th. It was against Minnesota, and it came in the Yankees last at bat, New York was leading by two 9-7. With one out in the top of the ninth, Howard pinch hit for Johnny Blanchard. The pitcher was Chuck Stobbs, the victim of Mantle's 565 foot homerun back in 1953. Howard's longball to right put the game out of reach.

The next game, Howard didn't have to wait for heroics as he drove in Tony Kubek in the 4th with a single. Then in the top of the 6th with the Bombers trailing 3-2, Maris walked and Mantle singled him to second. That brought up Howard. Howard to a rip and sent the ball into the seats in left. The Yankees were now ahead, and they would never look back.

After going hitless in the last two June games and collecting an RBI on July 1st, he hit homerun #4 against the Senators, to help the Yankees to a 13-4 win the next day.

Then came July 6th against Cleveland.

And Elston led the swinging.

Leading off the 5th inning, Howard's homerun off Dick Stigman, broke a scoreless tie, and the Yankees went on to score two more times that inning.

In the 6th, Howard came up again with one out and Bob Allen on the mound. Elston send one into the stands in right, putting New York up 4-0 and that's how it ended as Bill Stafford tosses a 2-hitter.

The next day was even better as he drove in four including a three run homerun against Boston's Billy Muffett.

Two days later Ellie had 3 hits in 4 at bats in the first game of a doubleheader to boast his average up to .371. But he failed to score a run and collected just one RBI. He failed to get a hit as a pinch hitter in the second game.

In a span of four games from July 14th to 17th, Howard got 2 hits in each game, including a homerun on the 15th against the White Sox. His batting average on the season was a high .377! But it would never get better.

After slumping to .358 by the 23rd (but also hitting a homerun on this day), Howard was back with two hits in each game of a doubleheader on July 25th. He added a homerun in the second game to reach double digits.

He didn't do much the rest of the month, but he did collect two RBIs in his first August game (2nd) and then hit his 11th homerun two days later against the Twins, in a game that he played first base.

Then Ellie went a while before hitting another, although he did collect 2 RBIs on the 8th, 11th and 13th. His next homerun came August 18th in a 5-1 loss against the Tribe.

He didn't hit one the next day, but he did collect two hits, an RBI and a run scored. On the 20th, he got two more hits in the first game of a doubleheader, neither of which scored a run or resulted in Howard eventually scoring. He did not play in the nightcap.

Elston was only 1-9 in the next two games combined, but then he was back in a long ball state of mind on the 27th. Actually, he went out and got 3 hits, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored.

On August 30th, he got another dinger against the Twins and pitcher Ray Moore, on in relief of Jim Kaat, as the Yankees won again 4-0 behind another shutout by Stafford.

An 0-4 performance on the last day of August resulted in a 5-4 and Elston's average down to .351.

It is a September 3rd homerun that I think was Howard's biggest of 1961.

In the bottom of the 7th, with the Bronx Bombers ahead 4-2 to the Tigers, Howard pinch hit for Stafford and struck out against Terry Fox. But Howard stayed in the game at catcher.

The Tigers rallied and went ahead 5-4, and the Yankees went into the bottom of the ninth, down.

Mickey Mantle tied the game with a dramatic leadoff homerun in the bottom of the ninth off Gerry Staley. Then with two outs and two on, Howard won the game with a three run homerun off Ron Kline.

Then came a four game set against Washington where Howard collected 8 hits, including a homerun.

On September 8th against Cleveland, he had 3 hit, 2 RBIs and a run scored. The next day, he slammed his 17th homerun as the Yankees won 8-7. Number 18 was not far away.

It was the next day in the second game of a doubleheader. A game that saw Elston get two hits, three RBIs and two runs scored.

The Yankees next game was a rain shortened contest between the Yankees and White Sox on September 12th, and Ellie had 3 RBIs on a single and a triple.

On the 14th, Howard hit his 19th homerun in the second game of a doubleheader against Juan Pizzaro of the White Sox.

His average had steadily risen to .367 with a pinch hit in the first game of the doubleheader, but now it began to slide.

But it did not stop him from getting to 20 homeruns, which he did with a blast off Frank Larry in a 10-4 loss on September 16th.

A 1-3 first game, 3-4 second game, doubleheader performance brought his average up to .363 on September 19th. Better still, Norm Cash, his chief competitor for the batting crown, had slipped to .359.

Then came a slump, although Howard would connect for homerun #21 on September 23rd for 21 on the year. But the problem is, Ellie hit just .111 in the last 8 games of the season.

Howard was still up on Cash .356 to .354 on September 26th, but the next day saw Cash at .355 and Howard .353.

Then it was .359 to .351 on the 29th and Cash upped it to .361 on the final day of the season.

Howard would have to be content with .348. Their On Base Average was no comparison: .487 for Cash and just .387 for Howard.

Ultimately, though, all this was for not, anyway. As in, not enough, plate appearances. More on that later.

Even so, how about that season by Howard! The 129 games he got into were a career high. He caught 111 games and played 9 games at first. He pinch hit 14 times.

But how about the real numbers? I'll give you an interesting one: The Yankees team ERA was 3.46 with Howard playing the majority of the time. That was good enough for second in the AL behind the O's.

And the Yankees pitching staff tossed just 33 wild pitches all year, 4 behind Chicago and Detroit. Howard allowed only 22 of them for 9th fewest in the league. As for passed balls, Howard was eighth in the league with eight. But in both cases he was well back of the 1-2-3 leaders.

He also allowed 20 stolen bases, 12 other catchers allowed more. Two other catchers, Hank Foiles and Hal Naragon allowed 20 stolen bases in 38 and 36 games respectively. Howard threw out 20 theft attempts for 5th in the league. That's an even 50 percent Caught Stealing percentage, second in the AL behind Dick Brown.

Howard's 6.11 Ranger Factor Per Game was above league average, which was 5.47 for catchers. Only two catchers, Gus Trinandos and Earl Battey, recorded higher among catchers with 100 or more games played.

Assists saw Howard at 5th with 43, behind Battey's 60. Howard's 635 putouts was 4th behind Battey's 812. It should be noted that Battey caught 20 more games than Howard.

Actually, it was John Ramano who caught the most games that year of any AL catcher with 141. Howard was 4th behind Trinandos' 114.

As for his WAR, that is Wins Above Replacement, Howard was 7th in the league 5.9. Roger Maris was 5th at 7.2 and Mantle took it at 11.9.

On offence, Howard's WAR was 6th at 5.7. Mantle lead this at 11.9. Cash was second at 8.9.

Howard did not accumulate enough plate appearances to qualify for any of the averages.

But it should be noted that his batting average was higher than second place finisher, Al Kaline, who was at .324. His On Base Percentage would have been 8th, just behind Kaline's .393.

How about what he did chart the top 10 in? And was eligible?

Ellie did have the respect of pitchers that season, when the walked him intentionally 6 times to tie Harmon Killebrew for 9th in the AL. Norm Cash again! He lead the league with 19. Amazingly, Mantle, Johnny Blanchard and Moose Skowron all tied for 4th with 9!

As for MVP, Howard was 10th with 30 votes. Maris won it, of course, with 202 votes to Mantle's 198. Whitey Ford had 102 and Luis Arroyo had 95. Cash, by the way, had 151 for fourth place.

Howard played in both All Star games that year. What he needed was 506 plate appearances, to qualify him for the batting title. He had ended up with 482, just 24 short.

But, it was on to the World Series in any case!

His homerun in the bottom of the 4th essentially won the game for the Yankees, as Ford blanked the Reds 2-0, on a 2-hitter.

But in the sixth, Howard appeared to have another hit, and I mean a big hit, as he sent O'Toole's pitch to center, but Vada Pinson made a nice catch to avert further trouble.

In the second game it was the Reds' Elio Chacon, who was subbing for Don Blasingame, who caused Howards some fite

Chacon's first at bat saw him send Berra back for long out.

Howard, meanwhile, grounded out against Cincy's starter, Joey Jay in the bottom of the second. In the 4th, after the Yankees tied the game, Howard walked with one out, only to have Bill Skowron ground into an inning ending double play.

Then with two outs in the fifth, and the game knotted at 2, Chacon singled, then made it to third when Eddie Kasko singled to center and Maris' perfect throw to third was somehow too late. Then came the crucial play that cost the Yankees the game.

Pinson was the batter, and Ralph Terry's pitch came inside and got away from Howard. Once he caught up to it, he looked to see where Kasko was going, instead of looking at Chacon, who was on his way home. Elston ended up on top of Elio, but far to late and the Reds were on top 3-2.

In the sixth, with the Reds having tacked on another run, it was Howard who hit into a double play.

It was his last at bat in the ninth that is odd. Howard swung at one of Jay's pitch, and somehow ended up hitting the ball twice, so Ellie was out on interference. The Yankees would lose the game 6-2.

So it was on to Cincinnati for games 3, 4 and 5.

The best Elston could do was a double in the 5th with one out. And he was quickly erased as Skowron lined into a double play. But the Yankees won the game 3-2, to back in front in the Series.

Facing the Cincy's Jim O'Toole in the top of the second, Howard went down on strikes. In the fourth, with Roger Maris on third and Hector Lopez (pinch running for Mantle) on first, Howard hit into a double play. Maris scored, but Elston had stopped the Yankees from getting a big inning. 1-0 Yankees

But in the sixth, with the game still close, 2-0, and after Lopez had fanned, Howard rifled a double to right center off reliever Jim Brosnan. Yogi Berra was walked intentionally, and Skowron singled to load the bases. When Clete Boyer doubled, Howard and Berra scored.

The Yankees added 3 more in the 7th despite Ellie's strikeout, and Howard was scheduled to bat 4th in the ninth, but Bill Henry retired Tony Kubek, Roger Maris and Hector Lopez in order.

None of that could stop the Yankees from winning 7-0 and going up 3-1 in the Series.

With New York up 2-0 in their first turn at bat, Howard kept the rally going with a double of Jay. He later scored when the next batter, Skowron, hit a single.

After lining out in the second, Howard came up in the 4th with runners on second and third. The Reds walked him. But Skowron again singled, scoring everyone except Howard. And then Lopez's homerun scored Elston. The Bronx Bombers were now up 11-3. All this off Henry. Swift revenge!

Ellie would later single and score the New York's final run in the 6th after reaching on a error, although he singled in the 7th.

Fittingly, Howard was the last batter of the Yankees grand 1961. The highest average (unofficially) struck out against Ken Hunt to leave Maris on second.

Elston Howard would bat just .250 in the Series, but hit 3 doubles, a homerun, 1 RBI, 2 walks and 5 runs scored. Six Yankees topped that average in the Series, but it was Elston whose hitting throughout the season is often forgotten.

Howard had clearly arrived in 1961, taking the catching duty in earnest.


References


Golenbock, Peter. "1961." Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print, pp. 405-445.

Mantle, Mickey, and Mickey Herskowitz. "The M &M Boys." All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print, pp. 129-145.

Smith, Ron. The Sporting News Presents 61*: The Story Of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle And One Magical Summer. St. Louis: Sporting News, 2001. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 20 Oct. 2011.

The World Series Of 1961. Dir. Lew Fonseca. Prod. Dick Borden. Perf. New York Yankees Cincinnati Reds 1961. Major League Baseball Productions Inc, 1961. DVD. DVD Released in 2006.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Johnny Blanchard

Blanchard comes off the bench, hits a homerun.

Blanchard comes off the bench, hits a homerun.

Again and again? It seemed like it.
 
April didn't give any hint of that. He played three straight games, all as a pinch hitter and did nothing, except strikeout in his last at bat of the month.
 
After failing to get a hit in another pinch hit appearance on May 2nd, he started the very next day. Blanchard only went 1-5, but he collected his first RBI.
 
Then he went 0-2 in his next two pinch hit at bats. But on May 7th, he was back behind the plate against Los Angeles, and he smacked his first homerun, and drew an intentional walk. The downside was losing the game 5-3 and doing nothing else other than walk and homerun.
 
5 days later he was walked intentionally again in a game against the Tigers. He also collected a hit, but it only lifted his average to .167!
 
The next day, he hommered against Phil Regan to bring the Yankees within one of the Tigers, 3-2. Yogi Berra, playing in left field tied the game in the 6th with a solo shot. Alas, the Yankees watched helplessly as the Tigers put 5 runs on the board the rest of the way, to their zero.
 
He was back on May 14th, in the second game of a doubleheader. This was John's forth straight game the he made an appearance, three of them starts. In the first game, he came in as a defensive replacement in the 10th inning and failed to collect a hit in his only at bat. In the nightcap, however, he collected a hit, 2 walks and an RBI. Now his average was a season high .240, so far.
 
His next big game came 11 days later. Kind of fitting that it was against the Red Sox, as you will see later. Mickey Mantle was off, so Roger Maris started in centerfield, Yogi Berra in right, and Bob Cerv in left. You had Clete Boyer batting second and Bobby Richardson batting eighth in front of Whitey Ford.
 
In the bottom of the first with Tony Kubek on first and one out, Blanchard faced former Cardinal Billy Muffett. Johnny whacked a homerun to right, and the Yankees would tack on another run that inning. It was 6-0 after 5 innings, and the Yankees held off Boston's 4 runs late in the game to win.
 
Blanchard collected just one more RBI the rest of the month, however, and his average was now down to .204.
 
On June 1st, he collected two hits and two walks. His two hits were doubles, and he got another RBI.
 
Four days later, Blanchard really came up big!
 
With the Yankees trailing 2-0 to the Twins in the bottom of the 7th. Blanchard faced Don Lee with two on.
 
WHAM! Three run homerun!
 
Not only did the Yankees have the lead, but Mantle's two run shot the next inning put the game out of reach.
 
On June 8th, it was Johnny Blanchard who got 2 hits and scored twice. He failed to pick up an RBI, however. The Yankees beat KC, 6-1.
 
He did get RBIs in back to back games on June 14th and 15th, then he upped his heroics with a performance on June 18th against the Tigers. Blanchard helped the Yankees to a 9-0 win.
 
In the bottom of the 2nd, Bill Showron went deep, and then Blanchard, on cue, followed suit for back to back dingers. It was 2-0 against Yankee killer Frank Larry. Boyer and Mantle then each hit sacrafice flies to make it 4-0 before the inning was over.
 
Jerry Casale was the Tigers pitcher in the 7th and the Yankees were now up 6-0. Blanchard, made it clear that he and the Yankees weren't finished by hitting another homerun. He ended the game with a season high 3 runs scored.
 
This performance lifted his average to a more than respectable .278.
 
On the 24th, he helped the Yankees to another win over the City Twin with a homerun, then two days later, smacked one pinch hitting.
 
So June ended with Johnny Blanchard hitting 5 homeruns, upping his total to 8 on the season. His also knocked in 12 and batted .359 for the month.
 
On Independence Day of 1961, Blanchard raised his average to .293 by going 3 for 4. Amazingly, he did not get an RBI or a run scored. The Yankees lost to Detroit, 4-3.
 
4 days later, he once again torched the Red Sox with a homerun. Then he got two RBIs against the other Sox on the 15th. And he was know just one decimal point below .300!
 
He did reach .300 on July 19th in the first game of a doubleheader against the Sens, but he dropped below the mark in the nightcap.
 
But on the 21st, Blanchard came up in the top of the 9th against Boston, of course. The Yankees trailed 8-6, with two outs and the bases loaded. Hey! Don't we all go to bed dreaming of this scenario? As in hitting a grand slam.
 
Which Blanchard did, against Mike Fornieles. Did I mention he was pinch hitting?
 
So the very next day, Blanchard again pinch hit in the 9th inning. And again the Yankees trailed, this time 9-8. The pitcher was Gene Conley, who also played for the NBA's Boston Celtics.
 
And I'll bet he wished basketball season started early that season, as Blanchard smacked another homerun, tying the game. The Yankees went on to win, 11-9.
 
So his next game was four games later. This time, the Yankees got the idea: We gotta start this guy more often.
 
The strategy would pay off.
 
In the bottom of the 1st, Mantle greeted Ray Herbert with a two run shot. Blanchard was up next. Could he duplicate that?
 
Well, he couldn't his a two run homerun, obliviously! But he settled for a solo shot!
 
It was still 3-0 in the bottom of the 4th as Blanchard came up again.
 
And again hit a homerun.
 
Johnny Blanchard now had 4 homeruns in 4 plate appearances.
 
Herbert, now shaken, allowed another blast by Boyer before the inning ended.
 
So Blanchard came up again the bottom of the 6th, with Herbert settling down.
 
Blanchard gave it a ride, deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep to right. Can it be? Blanchard turned on the jets, to give the ball some imaginary weight. Floyd Robinson in right field ran, backed up to the fence.
 
And he hauled it in! So close.
 
Blanchard's next at bat resulted in a double play, but the Yankees starved off the ChiSox's two run uprising in the top of the 7th and won 5-2.
 
Blanchard knew that it was still all about Mantle, and Maris (who didn't hit one) after the game. Johnny made that clear to the reporters who came up to ask him about his slugging rampage.  Everyone knew exactly what he meant.
 
The month ended with Blanchard going 3-3, plus a walk, in a game against the O's . But just like his first appearance this month, there was no RBIs or runs scored. And again it was a loss by one run, 2-1.
 
But this performance put his average at .315 for the season.
 
Kansas was the victim of two hits, a walk and three RBIs on August 2nd. And his batting average was now a season high .321, but it would not get any higher.
 
Blanchard managed just one hit against Minnesota two days later. The Yankees were tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 10th inning. With one out, Mantle walked and Yogi Berra singled him to second. Johnny Blanchard would face Bill Pleis.
 
Hero time!
 
BLAM! Homerun! The Yankees won 8-5.
 
He had just one hit in 7 trips to the plate the next day, but, you guessed it, it was a homerun.
 
His average sagged the next few days, but he was back at it on the 13th, with 2 hits (one a triple), 2 runs scored and an RBI.
 
This would be his last RBI of the month, and Blanchard close out the month with just a run scored in the last 9 games.
 
September started out no better as he was 0 for 2 on September 3rd to drop his batting average to .282. But the next day was a new day, a 3 for 3 day!
 
And it included a homerun.
 
On September 6th, it was a 2 for 4 day, but the "2" represented homeruns, giving him 18 for the season.
 
On the 8th, a 2-3 performance at the plate put his average back over .300, for good on the season.
 
Another homerun came the very next day against Cleveland, and he had two other hits for good measure.
 
The big moment came the next day (September 10th) in the first game of a doubleheader against the Indians. Blanchard was in left field It came in the bottom of the second, after Mickey Mantle tripled. Johnny Blanchard faced Barry Latman and went deep to right to give him 20 homeruns on the year. It had taken him just 78 games, 197 at bats and 225 plate appearances. The Yankees won the game 7-6.
 
In the second game, he actually failed to hit a homerun, but, playing left field again, Blanchard again made his presence felt with 2 hits, 2 RBIs, a run scored and one hit by pitch. Mantle kept everyone interested with homerun #53.
 
It wasn't until September 20th that he got two hits again, as the Yankees beat Baltimore 4-2. Blanchard did fail to get an RBI, although he did score a run. And the run ended up being the Yankees forth and final run. In that game Maris (#59) and Berra (#21) went back to back in the top of the third before Elston Howard's double scored Blanchard, who had singled. I wonder if anyone noticed?
 
After getting a hit in his only at bat of a September 24th game against Boston, Blanchard had 2 more hits and his first RBI in two weeks.
 
Then, in his final highlight of the 1961 regular season, he went 2-4 with his final homerun against, why Boston, of course. In the bottom of the 4th, he hit a dinger off  Bill Monbouquette to put the Yankees up 1-0. After the Red Sox tied it in the 7th, Blanchard won the game in the bottom of the 9th with a walk off single of Monbouquette  to score Roger Maris.
 
Blanchard finished the 1961 season as having participated in 93 games, accumulated 243 at bats, hitting 21 homeruns, knocking in 54 runners, and touching home 38 times. He recorded 27 walks, 9 intentional. Plus he was hit by a pitch four times. His finals batting average was .305 and his on base percentage was a very impressive .382.
 
He caught 48 games, played in left field 8 times and right field 7 times. He pinch hit 33 times.
 
With the Yankees up 2-0 in game 1 of the 1961 World Series against Cincinnati, John came up in the bottom of the 8th against Jim Brosnan. New York had Berra on first and two outs. Brosnan got him on a popup.
 
Game 2 was an 0-4 performance against Joey Jay, as the Yankees lost 6-2.
 
Blanchard had a chance to redeem himself in game 3 as the Yankees trailed 2-1 in the eighth. There were two outs and he faced Bob Purkey, having one hell of a game.
 
Purkey had kept the Yankees off guard all game long with knuckleballs. But Mickey Mantle reminded Blanchard before he batted to look out for a slider on the first pitch. That was the best pitch to go after, because it was all knuckles after that.
 
Mantle's advice paid off as Blanchard slammed Purkey's first pitch (a slider, of course) into right for a homerun. Maris won the game an inning later.
 
Johnny Blanchard did not play in game 4, but in game 5 with Mantle back out, there John was out in right field, with Maris in center and Berra in left.
 
In the top of the first with two on, two outs and Joey Jay back on the mound, Blanchard put the Yankees ahead for good with a homerun.
 
After walking in the second inning off Jim Maloney, he doubled to right in the 4th inning of Bill Henry, which moved Tony Kubek to third. Skowron scored both of them with a single, putting New York up 8-3.
 
In the sixth, it was Purkey back on the mound. Blanchard drew a lead off walk, and would later score again. Now the Bronx Bombers were up 12-5. They would add another tally that inning.
 
Then in the 9th, with the Yankees up 13-5 with Maris on first and one out, Blanchard faced Ken Hunt, the Reds' 8th pitcher on the day. Blanchard grounded out.
 
In four World Series games that year, Blanchard had 2 homeruns, 3 RBIs, 4 runs scored, 2 walk and a .400 average in 10 at bats.
 
Overall, the 1961 season was a momentous one for Johnny Blanchard. While Mantle and Maris grabbed the highlights when it came to the long ball, Blanchard did that two in limited duty in both the regular season and post season.


References


Golenbock, Peter. "1961." Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print, pp. 405-445.

Mantle, Mickey, and Mickey Herskowitz. "The M &M Boys." All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print, pp. 129-145.

Smith, Ron. The Sporting News Presents 61*: The Story Of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle And One Magical Summer. St. Louis: Sporting News, 2001. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 15 Oct. 2011.

The World Series Of 1961. Dir. Lew Fonseca. Prod. Dick Borden. Perf. New York Yankees Cincinnati Reds 1961. Major League Baseball Productions Inc, 1961. DVD. DVD Released in 2006.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Hector Lopez

Lopez was someone who was stuck with a sarcastic nickname after coming to New York: What-A-Pair-Of-Hands-Hector.

This was because Hector had a notorious problem fielding.

But their was nothing wrong with his hitting, except in the 1961 regular season.

Lopez started the season in left field alongside Mickey Mantle And Roger Maris. Too bad he wasn't hitting like them.

After going 0 for 4 in the season opener, Lopez managed a hit and a walk against Kansas City, where he also scored a run, four days later.

But in his next six games, the best he could manage was 1-4, which did not much for his average. An April 23rd 1 for 3 with a walk left his average at .176. An 0-4 performance the next day against the Tigers (and Yankee killer Frank Larry), dropped his average even lower (.158).

Then came a bit of a resurgance. First Lopez was 3-6 with an RBI and a run scored two days later. He followed that up with a 1-2, RBI day against Cleveland on the 27th.

Despite getting a hit in the 3 games that followed that, Hector ended April with his average at .220.

May started out on a, hey-that-doesn't-make-sense note. Lopez managed just one hit in the first four games. Just one RBI, too. But 4 walks resulted in 4 runs scored for Lopez.

May 7th saw Lopez get his first extra base hit in about a month with a double of the Angels Ned Garver in the 8th inning. It was actually a lead off double as the Yankees eventually loaded the bases with two outs. Clete Boyer's grounder forced Johnny Blanchard at third. The Yankees eventually lost, 5-3.

After going a combined 1-10 in the next two games, Lopez smacked hit first homerun with a longball of Lary on the 12th. Moose Skowron scored infront of him on that blast in the 4th, overcame the Tigers 1-0 lead that they had established in the top of the frame. Despite another run in the 5th for a 3-1 lead, the Yankees did no more, and Lary and the Tigers won again, 4-3.

His next two games were just pinch hit appearances, first drawing a walk off Hank Agguire of Detroit on the 14th, then walking once, staying in the game and walking again, two days later.

He drew still another walk on May 17th, but also added two hits, as the Yankees lost 8-7 to the Senators.

On May 19th, Hector Lopez got a pitch he liked in the top of the 7th of the Yankees game against Cleveland. His homerun put the Yankees up 6-4, but 5 runs by the Indians in the bottom of the 8th cost the Yankees the game.

Lopez was relegated to pinch hit duties the following day, and the Yankees were again relegated to mortals as they suffered their forth straight loss, 4-3.

But Lopez's RBI in the first game of a doubleheader (against Baltimore) had the Yankees back in the winners column. He managed a hit in 4 trips to the plate in the nightcap.

But he would be held hitless by Jack Fisher (who had given up Ted Williams' last homerun the year before, and later on this season, Roger Maris' 60th) on the the 22nd.

His last May appearance was on the 24th as he went 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts and a walk.

In June, Lopez would appear in only 9 games, and four of them would be as a pinch hitter.

But on the very first day on the month, Lopez pinch hit in the top of the 8th in a game against Boston. He hit into a fielder's choice, but got an RBI in the process. Then, four days later, Hector was back in left, and went 1 for 3 with 2 more RBIs. The next day he helped the Yankees to a 7-2 win over Minny by touching home twice.

He got his next RBI on June 12th against Los Angeles, then got a pinch hit the next day. But for the rest of the month he did little to none for the Yankees.

He next hit was on July 4th, and again it was as a pinch hitter. And again, it got him and RBI.  On July 7th against Boston, he got a hit and scored a run against Boston, as the Yankees ran away with a 14-3 win.

Another pinch hit single of July 15th against the White Sox and pitcher Turk Lown, got his average back over .200. Mercifully, it would go only up the rest of the way.

After going hitless the next day, he got an RBI (but not a hit) pinch hitting against Washington on the 18th. It was in the 7th inning, on a sacrifice fly. That tied the game 3-3. Mickey Mantle then put the Yankees ahead for good with his second homerun of the game an inning later.

Lopez would pinch run the next day for Yogi Berra and later collect a single, but the Yankees lost 12-2.

He seemed stuck in, 1 for 4 as the month ended with this happening 3 times, plus a one for three day. His hit on July 27th was triple.

He set a fine example in his first August appearance as he went 3-3 with and RBI and a run scored. Three games would pass before he got another hit, and then after that he picked up a hit on August 11th in his only plate appearance against Washington. Then he got 2 hits, a walk, and RBI and a run scored against Washington on the 13th.

That brough his average up to .228, but struggling the rest of the month brough it down to .218. However, on the last day of August, he came up to the plate in the 8th inning with Mantle on second after a single and a steal. Jack Kralick then became the victim of a Lopez longball deep to left to bring the Yankees from 5-2 down to within a run. All for not as the Yankees lost 5-4.

September was a slow month for a while. But on September 8th, he scored a run while pinch running for Mantle in the bottom of the 8th against Cleveland. The next day he got still another pinch hit, a triple, and scored a run against the Tribe.

After striking out in his next pinch hit appearance, Hector was 1-3 against the White Sox on September 12th.

On the 14th, he drew a walk pinch hitting in the first game of a double header against Chicago. In the nightcap, he went 2 for 4.

Lopez then struggled for a while, altough he walked twice and scored a run on the 26th against Baltimore. Then he went 2-4 with his only September RBI the next day. His last notable game was on the second last game of the season against Boston, where he went 2-4 with 2 runs scored.

Lopez's numbers were a dissappointment. Just a .222 average, 3 homeruns and 22 RBI, plus 27 runs scored. Of the 93 games he played in, 65 games were in left field, nine were in right, 22 had Lopez comming into the game as a pinch hitter and 3 as a pinch runner.

But it was on to the World Series. And that's what I'll remember best about Hector.

It didn't get off to a promising start. It was like his regular season. Playing in right field, since Roger Maris started in center for the injured Mantle, he managed just a walk in 3 trips to the plate against the Reds Jim O'Toole. Manager Ralph Houk would send Johnny Blanchard to pinch hit for him in the 8th.

In game 2, it was Lopez who pinch hit. In the 7th, he batted for Ralph Terry and drew a walk, but was left stranded as the Yankees lost, 6-2.

In game 4, Mantle played for the second time in the series. In the top of the fourth with Roger Maris on first, he lashed a hit to left.

It should have been a double, but Mantle's hip was hurting, and Ralph Houk sent in Hector Lopez to pinch run for Mickey, who had only reached first.

A double play scored Maris, but erased Lopez from the basepaths.

Maris had to go back to center after a two game return to right. Lopez took over from the vacancy.

In the sixth, with the Yankees up now 2-0, Lopez fanned against Jim Brosnan, who had relieved O'Toole's fine 5 IP 5H 2R performance.

But the Yankees would get to Brosnan soon enough. They picked up 2 against him that inning, and when Hector batted in the next inning, the Yankees had a man on first and second, and just one out. A wild pitch moved both Bobby Richardson and Roger Maris, who were the baserunners, into scoring position.

Lopez would knock a single to center to put the game out of reach as both runners scored. Hector reached second on Vada Pinson's throw home.

Brosnan beared down to strikeout Elston Howard, but Yogi Berra drew a walk.

A single by Bill Skowron scored Lopez, although Berra was gunned out at third by Pinson. Still, you can't argue with a 7-0 lead can you? That would be the final score as Jim Coates pitched shutout relief ball after taking over from Whitey Ford, and Brosnan and Bill Henry closed the door on the Yankees after that. Lopez was the only batter in the 9th not to strikeout against Henry as he flew out.

Gordy Coleman ended the game by flying out to Hector with two on in the bottom of the frame.

The next game saw the Yankees up 3-0 in the first against Joey Jay as Lopez came to bat. Only he would not face Jay. Jim Maloney came in. Hector (playing in his familiar left field position) would greet him with a triple to drive in Moose Skowron. Lopez then scored himself as Clete Boyer hit a double. The Yankees, as a team, had hit for the cycle in that inning, and were up 5-0.

It was now 6-0 as Lopez fanned against Henry in the top of the third. But in the top of the fourth, with the Reds a little back in it, 8-3, Lopez put a damper on any comback thought with a three run shot of Henry. 11-3 Yanks!

But the Reds still didn't quit, as Wally Post's 2 run shot in the bottom of the 5th made it 11-5 Yankees. So it was back to work in the top of the 6th.

Lopez would get an RBI on a bunt to first which the Reds tried unsucessfully to nail Johhny Blanchard at home. Lopez made it to second on the error. Bud Daley, who had relieved Ralph Terry, then hit a sacrifce fly to center for the Yankees 13th and final run.

Hector grounded out in top of the 8th against Brosnan, the Reds 7th (of 8) pitcher of the afternoon. But the Yankees had enough of that, keeping the Cincinatti at bay after Post's blast.

The World Series ended with Vada Pinson flying out to Hector Lopez in left. Fitting.

In just 12 plate appearances (2 walks and a sacrifice bunt), Lopez had 3 hits, 1 triple, 1 homerun, 7 RBIs and 3 runs scored. That was good enough for a .333 average.

Hector Lopez may not have helped the Yankees much in the regular season, but when pressed into service at key points in the 5 game World Series, he delivered.


References


Golenbock, Peter. "1961." Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print, pp. 405-445.

Mantle, Mickey, and Mickey Herskowitz. "The M&M Boys." All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print, pp. 129-145.

Smith, Ron. The Sporting News Presents 61*: The Story Of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle And One Magical Summer. St. Louis: Sporting News, 2001. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.

The World Series Of 1961. Dir. Lew Fonseca. Prod. Dick Borden. Perf. New York Yankees Cincinnati Reds 1961. Major League Baseball Productions Inc, 1961. DVD. DVD Released in 2006.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hockey Is Back...

...and I'm having difficulty putting it into my schedule right now.

But I did catch some of the opening game(s) on the season. Out driving, I caught some of the Canadians/ Leafs game. Basically, it was a case of a goalie (James Reimer) stealing a game for the Leafs. It will be interesting to see how he performs this year, especially if the Leafs make the playoffs. It is always fun watching the Leafs and the Habs, no matter where they are in the standings. Matt Lombardi had a fine game, and I'm glad to see him back from a concussion.

Speaking of which, I went to a bar to watch the next game. Well, the first two periods, anyway. It was the Pens and Canucks. Call me in the minority here, but I have a feeling that, even without Crosby, the Pens are going to be strong this season.

The Canucks looked step slower in the first, and Roberto Luongo really gave up a bad goal to James Neal. Matt Cooke somehow got left alone in front and made it 2-0. A late tally by Maxim Lapierre was sort of as bad as Neal's goal. 2-1 Pens after one.

The second period looked bad for the Canucks for a while. Cooke somehow notched his second goal shorthanded, and things looked mighty bleak for Vancouver.

But a great passing play resulted in a Keith Ballard goal. Henrik Sedin made a beautiful pass! This seemed to turn the tide as the period ended.

In the third the Canucks dominated, and tied the game as Daniel Sedin scored, with his brother drawing an assist. However, there was no further scoring and the game went into OT.

Vancouver seemed poised to win and had some good chances. They could not convert, however and the game went to overtime.

The Canucks elected to shoot first, with Mikael Samuelson fired a writst shot that Mark Andre Fleury made a save. But at the other end, Luongo could not duplicate that as Kris Letang scored.

When Alex Burrows came up empty, it was Evgeni Malkin with a chance to win it.

And he did just that by scoring on Luongo, as he waited for Luongo to go down, and flipping it over him.

Overall this was good game, with two fast skating and exciting teams.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

1961 Yankees Of The Day: Bob Cerv

The third time would not quite be the charm for Bob Cerv, who had played for the Yankees so well before. Then he got traded to Kansas City.

But Cerv rejoined the Yankees during the 1960 season, only to be the 38th pick of the expansion Los Angeles Angels.

But with Ryne Duren expendable because of the emergence of Luis Arroyo, a trade with the Angels brought Cerv back for the third time, on May 8th.

He wasn't doing much at the time, his average down to .158, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R in 18 games. But the Yankees hadn't really settled on a left fielder that year, as Hector Lopez's nickname (sarcastic) What-A-Pair-Of-Hands, still haunted him.

His first two games did little to change that.

His Yankee third time around got underway as he made a pinch hit appearance in the 9th inning, the day after the trade, against his old team, Kansas City. Facing Jim Archer, he grounded out to third baseman and former Yankee Andy Carey. Carey had been the player the Yankees sent to Kansas in 1960 for Cerv. And the trade had been made on May 19, 1960, almost a year to the day of this game!

Then he entered the game (in the 9th) as a pinch runner 3 days later against the Tigers. Actually, the batter had just drawn a walk. Who was it you say? Oh, how about Mickey Mantle. They'd get to know each other quite well that season.

Then he played all 11 innings of the first game of a doubleheader two days later. In 5 at bats, he managed 2 hits, one of them a 2 run homerun of Don Mossi. It helped the Yankees win 5-4.

He would end up playing 12 games in total the month of May. On the 25th, Cerv enjoyed his second 2 hit game for the Bronx Bombers. Then three days later, he hit belted a grand slam of Early Wynn of the White Sox. But the Yankees lost 14-9. That was the first game of a doubleheader. In the nightcap, he went 2-3.

His last May appearance was against Boston the next day. Although he failed to get a hit, this month had raised is average 36 points from April's low .184.

After scoring two runs on June 4th, he scored a run on a walk as a pinch hitter in a game 11 days later against Cleveland. It proved to be the winning run as the Yankees won 3-2.

In two straight games he participated in, June 25th and 27th, he added a homerun in each of them. Still, Bob ended the month at just a .225 batting average.

July would not be much better despite the fact that, at this point, he, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were staying in a Queens apartment, which, to all you tennis fans out there, practically overlooked the Forest Hills Tennis Club where the US Open took place, back then.

After driving in 2 runs on July 2nd against Washington, he didn't do much the rest of the month. His only homerun came on July 15th against White Sox pitcher Turk Brown in the 9th inning. Batting for Hal Reniff, who trailed 8-6 going into the inning, Cerv's hit rallied his team to eventually win 9-8.

This would be his last RBI of the month, and he scored just one more run. Now his average was down to .222, or 2 hits for every 9 AB.

On August 2nd, again against Kansas, he went 2-5 as he got a double against Archer, struck out twice, and then singled to left in the eight. He then scored on Whitey Ford's single.

After Kansas City tied it 5-5 in the top of the ninth, Cerv came to bat with the bases loaded. He actually grounded to third, but third baseman's Wayne Causey's throw home was dropped by Joe Pignatano. Roger Maris scored the winning run as a result.

But Bob started September strong, as he raised his average 8 points by going 2-3. He led off the bottom of the 5th with a double against the Sens Pete Burnside. But the next three batters failed to get the ball out of the infield, leaving the game tied at 2. But with one out in the 7th and the score still tied, Cerv rifled a triple to left. When Clete Boyer followed with a long fly, the Yankees had the lead for good.

Cerv continued his fine September by getting two pinch hits in consecutive appearances. On September 10th, he came off the bench in the bottom of the 8th to deliver an RBI single of Cleveland's Bobby Locke to score Elston Howard with the winning run.

Five days he was called on again to pinch hit in the 7th inning with the Yankees down, 4-1. Clete Boyer, whose homerun had hommered earlier in the game to get the Yankees on the board, was on first. Bob batted for Rollie Sheldon and singled  of Ron Kline to move Boyer to second. But Bobby Richardson hit into a double play to end that.

The Yankees tacked on another run later as Elston Howard also went deep, but ultimately lost to Detroit, 4-2.

If you're going to go, go with a bang. Which is what Bob Cerv did in what turned out to be his last game with the Yankees, ever.

It was on September 23rd against the Red Sox. The Yankees had build a 6-3 lead into the top of the ninth. Elston Howard then hommered, and with pitcher Jim Coates due to bat, Cerv went up again. Earlier in the game, he had hurt a cartilage in his right knee.

Facing Boston's Arnold Earley, Cerv hit a pitch to deep left for his sixth homerun of the year with the Yankees and 8th this season overall. That put the Yankees on top 8-3 and they stayed that way as Luis Arroyo held the fort.

But it was his last game, as mentioned. The cartilage would require season ending surgery, which would keep Cerv out of the World Series against Cincinnati. The Yankees would replace Bob on the roster with Jack Reed.

Cerv's final numbers aren't much to look at. In 75 games he posted a .234 average (or .289 OBP!) 8HR 26RBI 20R. But with the Yankees he was at .271 BA with 6HR, 20RBI and 17R in 57 games (.344 OBP). Of his 57 games for the Yankees that season, 28 were in left field, 2 in center field and 3 at first. 25 times he pinch hit and his May 12th appearance for Mantle was his only turn as a pinch runner.


References


Golenbock, Peter. "1961." Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print, pp. 405-445.

Mantle, Mickey, and Mickey Herskowitz. "The M&M Boys." All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print, pp. 129-145.

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print, pp. 287-291.

Smith, Ron. The Sporting News Presents 61*: The Story Of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle And One Magical Summer. St. Louis: Sporting News, 2001. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 06 Oct. 2011.

The World Series Of 1961. Dir. Lew Fonseca. Prod. Dick Borden. Perf. New York Yankees Cincinnati Reds 1961. Major League Baseball Productions Inc, 1961. DVD. DVD Released in 2006.




http://articles.courant.com/2001-07-22/features/0107221977_1_roger-maris-mickey-mantle-yankee-stadium

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=vZdRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2hAEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4519,2972836&hl=en

Monday, October 3, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Whitey Ford

So the time has come to look at the Chairman Of The Board's 1961 season.

His season did not get off on the right foot as he lost the season opener 6-0, lasting less than 7 innings as Minnesota Twins got 5 hits, 3 walks and 3 runs against Ford.

But then Ford went out and shutout KC 3-0 with a masterful 3 hitter despite 4 walks. He fanned 8. Four days later he tossed another complete game against the O's and won 4-2.

But the Detroit Tigers brought Slick down to earth in his next start, as Ford failed to make it to 7 innings for the second time in the month. This time Whitey allowed 11 hits, 2 walks and 6 earned runs. The Yankees scored 11 runs in this game, but the Tigers scored 13. Ford also had 2 hits and 2 RBIs.

His final start in April was on the 30th, the first game of a doubleheader against the new Washington Senators. Ford only pitched 6 innings again, but allowed just 4 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs and struck out 5. The Yankees won the game 4-3, and The Chairman had his third win on the month.

May began with start on the 4th. For the second straight start, he pitched exactly 6 innings, but once again, allowed only 2 earned runs. Ford avenged his loss a month ago to the Twins with a 5-2 win.

His next two starts weren't bad: 6 earned runs in 15 innings, but Ford failed to get a decision in both of them. But then he beat the Orioles again, again by a 4-2 score on the 21st. Ford got an RBI single in the forth that scored an unearned run.

Ford won his next start as well, although he gave up 4 earned runs. In beating the Red Sox 6-4, he lasted 7 innings, gave up 5 hits and walked 2.

Whitey lost just his second game on the season when Boston nipped him 2-1 on the 29th of May. Ford gave up just 2 earned runs and matched his season high so far with 8 K's.

Then came June.

He started 8 games.

And won them all.

He beat the Chicago White Sox on a fine 7 hitter on June 2nd.  Then, thanks to Ford's pitching (7.1 IP 3H, 2ER, 2BB 8K) and hitting (2-3, 1RBI, 1R) the Yankees topped the Twins 7-2 on the 6th.

He was even better his next outing. The poor Kansas City A's could attest. Ford sent them down on slick 5 hitter with 6 strikeouts. He hit his only extra base hit, a double, in the 7th. The downside was he allowed an inside the park homerun to his ex-teammate, Hank Bauer. One of the K's was a pinch hitter and also ex-Yankee, Don Larsen.

The Chairman was anything but in his next start (June 14th) as he allowed 8 hits and 5 earned runs. But the Yankees beat the Indians 11-5 and Whitey was at 10 wins already.

He made it 11 as he turned back the Tigers 9-0 four days later. In 8 innings, he allowed just 3 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 11 batters, a season high to date.

It would again be Kansas City's turn in Slick's next start. They managed to get 3 runs off Ford in 7, but Ford struck out 9, and won 8-3.

The expansion Angels hit Ford hard his next start, with 6 hits, 6 runs (all of them earned), and 4 walks in 7 innings. But the Yankees won anyway, 8-6, as Ford fanned 7 more.

Finally, Washington got their first crack at Ford on the last day in June. But they might have wished they hadn't.

Ford gave up just 5 hits, 3 walks and an unearned run, while fanning 8. I guess the bad part is, Ford failed to reach first base safely, as his 10 game, reaching base streak came to an end.

But in any event, Ford was now 14-2, at the end of June.

Here is The Chairman Of The Board's June statistics:

8 GP
8 GS
8 W
0 L
0 S
64.1 IP
43 H
21 ER
22 BB
55 SO
2.94 ERA
.186 OBA
.253 OBP

And he had no intention of stopping as he won his first July start, 6-2, a complete game, 5 hitter with 11 strikeouts against Detroit. This dropped his ERA to 2.98

The Red Sox got 10 hits and 5 earned runs against Whitey on the 8th, but Ford won his 16th game, 8-5. Then he came back with his second shutout on the season against Baltimore four days later. He gave up 6 hits and K'd 9.

Ford finally had his first no decision since May 14th when he was knocked out after 4.2 innings against Boston on the 21st. The Yankees eventually won, 11-8, but The Chairman had allowed 7 hits, 7 earned runs and 6 walks. His ERA was back over three. And it would stay there for the rest of the season.

But he beat the other Sox, 5-1 with a masterful 7 hits, 0 earned runs in his next start.

And he finished July with another win, 5-4 over the Orioles. Slick was a little less slick in this one as the O's got 7 hits and 4 runs off him, but they ended up losing. Ford had tied a career high in wins with his 19th.

Ford opened August with a pair of no decisions, neither of which was very impressive, unless you want to count his two RBIs on the 2nd. So Whitey had to wait until August 10th to pick up his 20th win and a new career high against the Orioles. The O's made him earn it, as they got 8 hits of Ford in 7 innings but lost 3-1.

The White Sox would also get 8 hits off Ford in only 7 innings. Unlike the O's, it was enough for a 2-1 win over him and the Yankees. But it was just his 3rd loss on the season.

And that 3rd loss was followed by Slick's 21st win in his next outing.

He had to go a little more than nine 9 (9.2). But the Yankees prevailed 4-3 over Cleveland in 10 innings.

Following a no decision on August 23rd, Whitey won his 22nd game against Kansas, even though he went just 5 innings.

He was pitching well on the first of September against Detroit, when he left the mound with 2 outs in the fifth, too early to get a win. Later it was determined to be a strained hip muscle. The Yanks got the win, 1-0.

But then, back and healthy, he tossed his 3rd and final regular season shutout when he blanked the Senators 8-0. He surrendered just 5 hits and 2 walks. He fanned 7. Despite this, his ERA was still 3.22.

Then came his shortest outing on the season.

It was just two innings on September 10th against Cleveland. And he surrendered 7 hits and 5 earned runs. Amazingly, the Bronx Bombers won this game anyway, 7-6.

He beat Detroit 11-1 to move the Yankees closer to push the Tigers to 10 1/2 games out with only 15 games left for catchup. (Ford's buddy Mantle helped not with a homerun, but with 2 runs scored and an RBI.) Ford had a complete game and his 24th win.

But he suffered his 4th loss in his next start against the O's. Actually, Ford lost the game 1-0, so he can hardly be blamed. He allowed 7 hits but just 1 earned run, and fanned 7 batters.

The next start for Slick saw the Yankees make it up to him. Ford allowed 9 hits in only 5 innings against Boston. Yet the Yankees won the game 8-3 making Whitey a 25 game winner on the year.

It was his last win in the regular season, although he pitched a 6 inning scoreless outing in an eventual 2-1 Yankee win on September 29th. And he fanned 9 more to up his career high in strikeouts in a single season to 209.

Ford's final ERA of 3.21, while high, was good enough for 10th in the AL that that year. It was well back of Washington's Dick Donavan who lead the league in that category at 2.40.

Ford's 25 wins were tops though, two more than Yankee Killer (or this year's AL Killer) Frank Lary. And his .862 W% in tops in the league as well. In innings pitched (283), starts (39), and batters faced (1,159) Ford also stood alone atop the league.

His WHIP of 1.2 was good enough for 7th.

On just hits allowed per 9 innings, Ford ranked 8th, just ahead of teammate Ralph Terry with 7.7.

Although not a strikeout pitcher normally, his 209 strikeouts gave Slick an average of 6.6 per nine innings, good enough for 5th, American League-wise.

As for the 209 strikeouts, even better, that was second only to Camilo Pascual's 221.

Ford was one of 7th pitchers tied for 9th in complete games with 11.

As for shutouts, he was tied for 5 others (including teammate Bill Stafford) for 6th place.

On bit a of a negative side, Ford's 242 hits allowed were the 7th most allowed. He also allowed the 8th in the league in homeruns allowed per nine innings (0.73) and also tied for 6th in the league in wild pitches with 8. His 101 earned runs allowed was the 9th most. And his 5 errors topped all AL pitchers.

His 2.3 strikeouts to walks ratio was third in the league.

And his 45 assists was 5th among AL hurlers.

All this was enough to win his first Cy Young award (They only handed out one among both leagues, so Ford had to beat out the likes of Spahn, Koufax, Gibson, Burdette and even others like Joey Jay, Jim O'Toole, Johnny Podres and Stu Miller), his second Sporting News American League Pitcher of the Year, and 5th place in AL MVP voting. Ford was selected for both All Star Games.

And his season, of course did not end there. In the 1960 World Series, Slick had tossed a pair of shutouts. So, not surprisingly, he started game 1 of the 1961 World Series against Cincy.

And Whitey picked a fine time to pitch his best game on the year!

In a pitcher's duel with the Reds' Jim O'Toole, Ford came out on top 2-0 on a 2-hitter. Ford got help from a pair of solo homeruns by Moose Skowron and Elston Howard. Not to mention two fine plays by Clete Boyer at third.

Then with the Yankees leading the series 2-1, Ford took the mound to try and push Cincinnati to the brink. He had upped his World Series consecutive scoreless innings streak to 27.

O'Toole could not be touched through 3. Ford retired the first 7 batters he faced. The Yankees threatened Jim with a walk and a double in the third, but it lead nowhere.

Babe Ruth had the record of consecutive scoreless innings in a World Series with 29 2/3. Ford was now at 29 1/3. Could he do it?

Darrell Johnson singled, bringing O'Toole to the plate. O'Toole hit a tough chopper that Tony Kubek made a fine play on to force Johnson at second. There was no time to get O'Toole.

But when Elio Chacon grounded out to Bobby Richardson, Ford had the record!

A double play in the top of the 4th gave Ford all he would need, although the Reds gave it a great try in the bottom of the frame. Ford gave up a single to Eddie Kasko. Then with only one out, he hit Frank Robinson. He had to induce the dangerous Wally Post to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to get out of that.

Kubek's single drove in the Yankees second run (actually, it was Ford who scored it, having reached base on a walk) in the top of the 5th. Ford retired the first two Reds in the their half of the inning. But once again Johnson, who had once been a teammate of Whitey Ford (actually his catcher occasionally in the late 50s) singled, bringing up Dirk Gernert to bat for O'Toole (who once again had not pitched badly, 5IP 5H 2ER 3BB 2K, and was once again in line for a loss). Gernert bounced to Clete Boyer at third, who fired to second to get Johnson.

Then Boyer helped out Ford with his bat, doubling to left (right to the "328" sign in left) in the sixth against relief pitcher and soon-to-be-author-pre-Jim-Bouton-but-like-it, Jim Brosnan. Moose Skowron, who had beaten out an hit to third, was now on third, and Ford had a chance to add to the 4 run lead.

Old Slick lashed at a pitch and foul tipped it of his right toe. Ouch. This would not hurt as much as the play Coleman was about to make.

Ford grounded to him at first, and Coleman took it and made the putout unassisted. Skowron decided to try and score, but somehow Coleman raced across and, without the ball leaving his hands, tagged Moose out for an unassisted double play.

But when Elio Chacon opened the bottom of the sixth with a single (just out left fielder Yogi Berra's reach, the result of which had Yogi flat on his face), that was it for Ford. Jim Coates came in to pitch and got out of the inning despite the fact that he also hit Frank Robinson with a pitch.

Coates would finish up the shutout, and the Yankees would add three more runs for a 7-0 win. Then the Yankees put the final nail in the Reds coffin with a methodical 13-5 win in game 5, the World Series theirs in 5 games.

Although he was not able to finish the game, it was Ford who would be named the Series MVP with two wins and shutout. This would be the second straight World Series where Ford had two wins, no losses and an ERA of 0.00 in two starts.


References


Golenbock, Peter. "1961." Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print, pp. 405-445.

Mantle, Mickey, and Mickey Herskowitz. "The M&M Boys." All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print, pp. 129-145.

100 Years Of The New York Yankees. Major League Baseball Productions, 2003. DVD.

Smith, Ron. The Sporting News Presents 61*: The Story Of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle And One Magical Summer. St. Louis: Sporting News, 2001. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 03 Oct. 2011.

The World Series Of 1961. Dir. Lew Fonseca. Prod. Dick Borden. Perf. New York Yankees Cincinnati Reds 1961. Major League Baseball Productions Inc, 1961. DVD. DVD Released in 2006.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1961_World_Series
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