Friday, December 23, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Bobby Richardson

Unlike Kubek, Richardson had a memorable 1960 World Series where, to put it mildly, he did all he could to help the Yankees win. They still ended up losing, anyway.

Hitless in the season opening 6-0 loss in Minny, he managed to pick up his first hit four days later against the Athletics.

But it was a big hit, as it scored Elston Howard and Clete Boyer to put the game out of reach, 4-0 for the Yankees. They would go on to win 5-3.

His first two hit game in the second game of a April 20th doubleheader against the Angels nabbed him another RBI. In the opener on the day, he got his only April walk.

It was against Baltimore two days later that:

1) Another doubleheader

2) Held hitless in the opener

3) Two hits in the nightcap

4) Another RBI

In a wild 13-11 win over Detroit, Richardson collected 3 hits, plus another RBI and two runs scored on April 26th. The batting average was an April best .222.

But just three hits in the next four games to round out April dropped it back to .220.

May began with an 0-4 performance against Minnesota on the 2nd. But Richardson followed it up with a 3 hit game the next day to power the Yankees to a 7-3 win. Then he picked up two more hits, an RBI, a run scored and a walk on the 4th.

After struggling against the Angels in a 3 game set, Bobby was 2-3 with a walk and an RBI on the 9th.

Then the wheels came off the chariot in the next 13 games, as he batted .118 (6-51) with just 2 walks, 2 runs scored and only 1 RBI.

On the 24th, though, it was time for another 2 hit game. This one again included an RBI.

The next day was still another doubleheader, against the Chi Sox.

In the first game, Richardson was 1 for 4. The nightcap was no better as Bobby was 0 for 4, but he had an RBI.

May ended on a positive, as Richardson was 2-4 with a double and a run scored against the Red Sox. But his average was still only .211.

June saw Bobby Richardson raise his average 13 points by going 3-4 with a double, plus he also got a walk on the 1st. But in the next 8 games he could do no better than one hit each game.

After struggling in the opener (1-4) in the opener of a June 8th doubleheader against the Athletics. But in the nightcap, all Bobby did was collect 3 hits in 4 at bats, walk (intentional), an RBI and a run scored.

He could again only collect one hit the next game, but it was a triple. And he scored a run.

His next multi-hit game was on June 11th in the second game of a doubleheader against the Angels. Actually, overall in doubleheader he went 3-6 with a double. Yet he failed to get either an RBI or a run scored.

Two more "oh for.." games followed, but then came a 3 game against Cleveland on the 14th.

Bobby's sixth inning single scored Moose Skowron. Then in the seventh, he hit his first first homerun on the season, a three run blast off Johnny Antonelli, as the Yanks went on to a 11-5 win. Richardson singled and eventually scored in the ninth. This help Whitey Ford reach double digits in wins.

That seemed to cue another slump as Bobby managed only 3 hits in the next 5 games. But in the last of those 5 games, he managed to hit a double and score.

A double was among his two hits on the very next day, June 20th. And again he scored a run. The Yankees beat the Kansas A's, 6-2.
He hit a triple the next game, but it didn't result in a run scored or an RBI. It was his only hit of the game. And it was the same for the next two games, 1 hit each.

On June 24th, he collected two hits and two runs scored, plus an RBI for good measure, as the Yankees topped the Twins, 10-7. In the next two games he was 2-5 in each game, with a run scored.

Then Bobby was down to just one hit against the Angels, but he again scored a run, on the 27th.

Then, a hitless game.

But then, another two hit to cap off the month against the Senators, resulted in two runs scored an a 5-1 Yankee win.

July started out slow, as Bobby had two hits in the first six games of the month.

Richardson found his stroke again, as he collected 3 hits, 3 RBIs, 2 runs scored and a double against the Boston Red Sox on July 7.

And Bobby stayed hot as two days later the Yanks and Sox played a doubleheader.

In it Richardson collected 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 RBIs and a run scored.

In the second game, the Yankees trailed 9-1 in the bottom of the 6th, but Richardson blasted a 3 runs shot off Don Schwall  and the Yankees clawed back into the game, but eventually lost 9-6.

He stayed hot in his next game (July 13th) as he got two hits against the other Sox team. Among those was a double, as Richardson scored twice. This pushed his average to .250 for the first time since May 5th.

Two more hits followed the next game, but Chicago won easily, 6-1.

The Yankees needed 10 innings to eek out a 9-8 win over the Sox in the finale, Richardson only 1-5, but he also had a walk. Bobby scored the tying run the top of the ninth on a Maris double.

After going just 1-9 in a two game set against the Orioles, Richardson faced the Senators next.

Bobby helped the Yankees to a 5-3 win the opener as he collected two more hits, among those a double. Plus he had an RBI and a run scored.

Washington took the second game and held Richardson hitless.

In the third game, Bobby was back with still another two hit game, a run scored, plus a sacrifice bunt. But the Yankees lost big time 12-2.

Richardson next went 2-6, but no RBIs or runs scored in an 11-8 win over Boston on July 21st. He was even better the next day as he went 3-6.

This time there was RBIs.

Facing the Red Sox's Tracy Stallard (who would give up Roger Maris' 61st homerun on the last day of the season), Richardson's second inning single scored Moose Skowron, his third inning single scored Elston Howard, then his ninth inning single score Arroyo with the winning run. Tony Kubek's double scored Richardson with an important insurance run. The Yankees won 11-9. Richardson also helped turn two double plays.

The Yankees couldn't make it three straight over the Sox as they lost 5-4. But Richardson was 2-5 with a walk and a run scored.

New York then swept a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on July 25th. Richardson had 2 hits, 3 walks and 3 runs scored, pushing his average up to .260

In the next two games he scored a run in each to extend his streak of scoring a run a game to 6.

The Baltimore Orioles then stopped the Yanks 4-0 and also held Richardson hitless. The next game, though, the Yankees were back in the win column and Bobby was back in the two hit mode. He also knocked in two runs and scored one himself.

The O's though, continued their mastery of the Yanks as they swept a doubleheader, 4-0 and 2-1 and held Bobby hitless. The best he could do is draw a walk, his 10th of the month.

August began with a 2 hit (including a double), 1 run scored game against Kansas in the first game of a doubleheader on the 2nd. The Yankees then smoked the Athletics 12-5 in the nightcap. Richardson had a hit and a walk.

After getting just one more hit in the finale of the three game set, it was back to the 2 hit effort on the 4th. Richardson hit his second double of the month, knocked in a run and also scored. The Yankees topped the Twins 8-5 in 10 innings.

Two days later, it was time for another doubleheader. And for Richardson it was a day to remember.

1st game: 3-8 with 2 runs scored

2nd game: 2-4 with 1 run scored

New York won each game against Minnesota by a single run.

The Yanks then beat the Angels with Richardson going 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored. He also got a walk.

Held hitless the next day, Richardson nontheless scored a win after drawing a walk in the first. Yogi Berra would score Richardson with a sacrifice fly. This was the 5th straight (and 7th time in 9 games) that Bobby had scored a run.

Then after failing to score a run on the 9th, Richardson was 2-4 against the Angels on August 10th.

In that game, Richardson led off the bottom of the first against Jim Donohue. He would slam a pitch deep into the left field bleachers for his third of the year. I bet no one noticed because Skowron hit his 20th and Berra his 16th. The Yankees took the game, 3-1.

Then it was off to Washington for a four game set. The Yankees took the opener 12-5 as Richardson went 2-6 with 2 runs scored and an RBI for good measure.

Just when things were looking up...

...came a two game slump of no hits. But in the second game of the Aug 13th doubleheader, Bobby Richardson was 2-5 with a run scored an an RBI.

Two more sub par games followed before Richardson was 2-5 in the first game of a August 20th doubleheader. Richardson scored twice. In the nightcap, he was just 1-5 but he scored still another run.

August 24: New York vs Los Angeles

Richardson: 5-5, 1R, 2RBI

Suddenly, his average soared to a more than respectable .265

2-5 the next day against KC made it .267.

Richardson was only 1-4 on the 26th, but he also drew a walk, scored and knocked in a run.

2 more hits on the 27th pushed his average up to .268, as he again got an RBI.

He finished off August with a pair of 1-4 days.

In 31 August games, Richardson batted .303 (42 hits) with 22 runs scored, 1 homerun and 10 RBIs, 6 walks, and 5 times reached on error.

September started the way August ended: two 1-4 days.

But then two 2-4 days meant Richardson was now batting .270.

Richardson slipped back to a pair of 1 hit games, but did managed to pick up 2 RBIs in a 6-1 win over Washington on September 5th.

His next two hit game was two days later against Cleveland. He scored a run this game and in the next three games.

In a short, 6 inning game on September 12 in Chicago, Richardson was 3-4 with run scored, as he finished the day batting .273. A season high.

He fell back a bit but remained productive.

And an 0 for 9 doubleheader on the 14th followed, and the Yankees lost twice to the White Sox.

The 15th was another doubleheader, this time against Detroit. Richardson got two hits and a walk, scored once and drove in a run. One of his two hits was a double. But he did all that in the opener. The Yanks won it 11-1, but lost the second game to Detroit, who refused to go away in the pennant quietly. Pitcher Bud Daley took his 17th loss on the year.

The Tigers then closed to within 9 1/2 games (with 13 to play) of the Yankees with a resounding 10-4 win the next day. Maris hit his 57th homerun, Howard his 20th, and Kubek smacked a double. Richardson himself was 2-5 with a run scored.

But, alas, Frank Lary, who always beat the Yankees, went the distance. The last two runs that scored against him were meaningless. This was his 21st win on the year against only 9 defeats. The Yankees, as a team batted .282 against him, but were 2-4 against him in 1961.

The Yankees took the next game against the Tigers in extra innings and Richardson was 2 for 6.

New York then split a doubleheader against the O's, and did likewise in the last two games of the four game set against Baltimore. Richardson managed just 2 hits and 1 walk (in his only plate appearance in the fourth game), yet also reached base 3 times on an error.

That walk was his 4th of the month, 30 of the season, and also last of the regular season.

The Yankees beat Boston 8-3 on September 23rd as Richardson scored a run but didn't get a hit or a walk. Nor did he reach on an error. He was hit by a pitch for just the second time, not only in this season but in his entire career. He had been hit by a pitch back on April 17th, and had gone a stretch of 153 games without that happening again.

Bobby Richardson had also hit his 10th and final sacrifice bunt in the regular season in that game. But his batting average had dropped to .266.

He got into a game as a pinch hitter on September 27th, but failed to produce, and the Yankees lost 3-2 to Baltimore. And it was more of the same two days later, as Richardson was hitless, although the Yankees won 2-1 over Boston.

The Yankees followed that up with another win on September 30th, 3-1 over the Red Sox.

In the bottom of the 5th against Don Schwall (The AL Rookie Of The Year, and 15 game winner) Richardson got his last regular season hit  and RBI (49) when he tripled (5th of the year) to drive in Bill Gardner, who replaced Bobby at second base in the top of the ninth.

He had helped defuse an early rally when Chuck Schilling led off the game with a double for the Sox. The next batter, Gary Geiger, smacked one to Richardson, who caught it in the air, and fired to Clete Boyer (playing shortstop) for the double play.

In the bottom of the third , Schwall had struck out Bobby, just the Yankees second sacker's 23rd K on the season.

Richardson finished the 1961 regular season by playing in 162 regular season games. But that doesn't mean he didn't miss a game, as the Yankees played one tie.

In any event, he was third in the league in games played. 662 At Bats was enough for 3rd place. And his 706 plate appearances placed him 6th among AL hitters.

Despite finishing with just a .261 average, his 173 hits was good enough for 5th in the AL.

Of his 162 games played, he appeared just once as a pinch hitter (groundout ). All the other games, he played at second base.

Of those hits, 148 were singles, which was tops in the American League. His 10 sacrifice hits placed him 7th. And he was one of toughest to strikeout, as he averaged 28.8 At Bats per strikeout.

On the negative side, Richardson, despite his 80 runs scored, 17 doubles, 5 triples and 3 homeruns and 49 RBIs, 10 sacrifice hits and only 23 strikeouts, Bobby lead the league in outs made, 523, and was 9th in the league in caught stealing, with 7.

As for he defence, 1961 was the first of 5 straight Gold Gloves. He was second in the AL in games at second base, with 161. Only Detroit's Jake Woods played more games at second.

Bobby tied Nellie Fox for putouts as a second basemen (413).  His 376 assists was good enough for 5th among second basemen in the AL. Bobby's 136 double plays turned topped every American League second baseman. He was also 6th in the AL in fielding percentage among AL second basemen with .978. And finally, Bobby was 5th in Range Factor Per Game with 4.90 at second.

Now for the negative: Bobby Richardson committed 18 errors as second base. Only Wood's 25 were more in the AL.

He got 1 MVP vote, good enough for 24th.

How about the World Series. Would 1960's World Series performance be a fluke for Bobby.

In game 1, he led off with a single off the Reds Jim O'Toole. When Kubek walked, it looked like a big inning. Richardson, in fact, made it all the way to third as the Yankees would load the bases with two outs, before Berra popped out.

Later, he singled in the third, only to be gunned down trying to steal second as Roger Maris struck out.

Bobby singled in the bottom of the seventh with one out. Alas, he was stranded.

The Yankees really didn't need anything from this, however, as Whitey Ford blanked Cincy, 2-0, on a methodical 2 hitter.

But they would need it and then some in the second game. They didn't get it, though!

In game 2, Bobby Richardson again singled to improved his batting average to .800 (4/5). And again, it led nowhere, Kubek erasing Richardson with a fielder's choice.

Bobby did nothing else at the plate on this day against the Reds Joey Jay. But he wasn't alone. The Yankees lost convincingly, 6-2.

The World Series scene shifted for games 3, 4 and 5 to Cincinnati.

Bob Purkey started for the Reds, and Richardson this time led off the game with a groundout.

After grounding out in the third and then lining out in the top of the 6th, Richardson singled in the top of the eighth with the game tied at 2. This time he succeeded in stealing second.

But, it was not to be, as again, Richardson was stranded. Maris' dramatic homerun in the ninth helped the Yankees take this one, barely, 3-2.

O'Toole tried to tie the Series by taking the mound in game 4.

Richardson was retired on a grounder to start. But he doubled in the top of the third. O'Toole bared down and got Kubek out to end the inning. Can anyone help Bobby?

The Yankees finally scored a run in the 4th, and in the 5th, Richardson singled Whitey Ford to second. Kubek's single scored Ford, Richardson to third, Kubek to second on the throw home.

But that is where Bobby stayed.

In the 7th, with the Yanks up 4-0, Richardson led off with a single. A fly ball, and an intentional walk to Maris moved Richardson to second. A wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out.

Hector Lopez, subbing for Mickey Mantle, shot a single to center that not only scored Richardson, but Maris as well. New York scored another run that inning for good measure.

Bobby Richardson lined out in the ninth, but the Yankees won the game 7-0, and Bobby was now batting .471!

For the third time in the Series, the Bronx Bombers began the game (batting) with Richardson singling.

It looked like nothing would come of it as the next two men were retired by Jay, back in search of another win over the Yankees. Richardson was picked off first, but he made it to second on Gordy Coleman's error.

When Johnny Blanchard hit a homerun, the Yankees were up 2-0. They never looked back.

After 1 inning it would be 5-0, Yankees.

After 2 innings it was 6-0, Yankees.

Richardson didn't help this time by flying out to right.

In the third inning, with Clete Boyer on first, Richardson grounded out.

In the fifth, he led off with groundout to Bob Purkey, the Reds' sixth pitcher on the day.

Richardson ended the 6th inning with a popup to catcher Johhny Edwards.

In the 8th, he batted for the last time in the Series. He grounded out.

In the bottom of the frame, he made his last fielding play by retiring Jerry Lynch, who was pinch hitting.

The Yankees had ran away with the game while all this was going on. The final score was 13-5.

The Yankees had finished first, while Bobby Richardson was always stuck on second.

No that he minded.
In the 1961 World Series, Richardson had come to bat 23 times (23 at bats, actually, no walks), gotten 9 hits, scored twice, hit a double, steal a base, get caught stealing, bat .391, and have an OBP of .391.

But if only the World Series had ended after his first at bat of game 5.

Bobby was batting .500 at the time!



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. 23 Dec. 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.

Friday, December 16, 2011

1961 Yankee Of The Day: Tony Kubek

Although just 25 years, old Kubek had helped anchor the Yankees middle infield since 1957, as season where he was Rookie Of The Year.

Kubek probably wanted to forget about the 1960 World Series more than any Yankee player (sans Mantle or Terry). For it was the image of a ground ball that hit a pebble and struck Kubek in the throat, that had opened the door in a 5 run Pirate uprising in the fatal game 7.

Kubek entered the Yankees 6th game of the year with no hits, five walks, zero RBIs and zero runs scored.

That all changed when Tony collected 2 hits (one double) in 4 AB in a 4-2 win over the O's on April 21st. That performance raised his average to .105!

But that got the ball rolling, and it wasn't going to hit a pebble and hit him in the throat, this time.

Another hit the next day and two more the day after that, brought the batting average to .185.

All of which, leads us to April 26th.

A game the Yankees won 13-11 over the Detroit Tigers, who despite the loss, were still 2 games up on the Yankees, who were only in 3rd place. The Yankees would not have won the game without their shortstop.

Yes, Mantle had a homerun, not to mention 3 runs scored and 4 RBIs.

Yes, Maris had a homerun, not to mention 2 runs scored.

But what about Kubek?

He had a fine day. 3-6 with 3 runs scored.

His big moment came in the top of the second. Having reached first on a bunt single and later scoring, in the first, Kubek put the Yanks up 6-0 with a homeun in the top of the second off Don Mossi.

The Tigers would fight back before the Yankees won this one in the 10th on a Mantle homerun.

Now isn't that something: a great day for Kubek, forgotten after what I just wrote! Get used to it.

Unless your name was Mantle or Maris, you tended not to exist in 1961.

But Kubek did exist in the next game against Clevelend. Another 3 hits, but this time in only 4 ABs, and the Yankees won another close one 4-3. Kubek crossed home twice. And that horrible batting average? Try .273. Getting there!

It got over .300 as Kubek had two hits in each of the next three games to finish April with a .321 batting average. A 2-1 loss to the Senators on the last day of the month snapped the Yankees' 4 game winning streak, however.

Another two hit game on the second of May lifted the batting average to .328, as season high. No way Tony can keep this up. In fact, he got no more than one hit in the next seven games to drop it back to .273. Despite that, Tony collected 3 walks on May 5th vs the expansion Los Angeles Angels. He then hit his second homerun on the season on May 9th against Kansas.

But then came Kubek's third three hit game against the Tigers on May 12th. But the Yankees lost the game, 4-3 to the Tigers.

And they would also lose the next game as Kubek did no better than one hit.

The Yankees would win the final two games to split the series, but Kubek would go only 1-5 in each game.

Following an 0 for day, as they say, Kubek got another 3 hits on May 17th against the Senators. The Yankees lost 8-7.

2 hits against Cleveland on the 20th and 3 more in the first game of a doubleheader against Baltimore upped Tony's average to .302. 4 days later, he hit his 3rd homerun off Boston's Billy Muffett.

His average hovered around .300 the rest of the month, but June started off even better. 3 hits were recorded by Kubek in his first June appearance. Then he went 2-6 twice against the White Sox. .312.

On June 6th against the Twins, it was time, once again, for a 3 hit game. The day before, he'd hit homerun #4.

June 8th, the second game of a doubleheader against the A's, saw Kubek get 3 hits. The next day, same, but he scored three times as well and helped the Yankees to a 8-6 win. Two of his hits were doubles, and Tony was now batting a season high .327.

A slump followed in the next three games and Kubek couldn't even manage one hit. But then he got two against Los Angeles on the 12th, and then three more hits against the Indians on the 14th.

On June 14th against Cleveland, Tony helped power the Yankees to an 11-5 win by going 3-6, one of his hits was a double. This was his 4th 3 hit game of the month.

Kubek was 2-5 two days later against Detroit, but despite that, and despite an RBI, the Yankees lost 12-10.

After sitting out two games, Kubek was back in the lineup, to collect a hit and an RBI against KC. This time, the Yankees prevailed.

Actually, the Yankees were to lose just three more games the rest of the month, but Kubek went into a funk that dropped the average down to .296 on June 28th. But Kubek collected two more hits two days later, as the Yankees beat Washington 5-1.

The amazing stat for June? Walks, by Kubek, two!

Four two-hit games brought Kubek's average to .303 by July 9th. No hit was better than Tony Kubek's July 8th homerun.

The Yankees trailed the Red Sox, 3-0 in the bottom of the third, but a homerun by Johnny Blanchard made it 3-1, and a Kubek single brought the Yankees to within one. Before the inning was over, it was the Yankees on top 5-3.

Kubek and the Yankees weren't finished.

Mickey Mantle's fifth inning of Tracy Stallard (who would give up Roger Maris' 61st homerun on the last day of the season) made it 6-3. But then the Red Sox came back with two of their own in the top of the 7th. They were right back in it.

At least, that was, until Kubek came in the bottom of the frame. Mike Fornieles was the pitcher and he retired Bobby Richardson, the leadoff hitter.

But Kubek homered. The Yankees were up two again. Bill Skowron's homerun an inning later put the game out of reach.

But Kubek could manage only 6 hits in the next seven games. But when the Yankees needed it, he was there.

Take July 13th for example. A game where you would forget everything that Kubek did, offensively and defensively.

Richardson led of that game against the White Sox with a single. Kubek moved him over to second with a well placed bunt.

Early Wynn (7-1 entering the game) now had to face Maris and Mantle.

Maris homered (34th). Mantle homered (30th). The Yankees not only had a 3-0 lead, but they now had two players with 30 + homeruns, and it was not quite the middle of July.

And they also had a shortstop who never made the headlines.

But he was still the Yankees shortstop.

The man to the right of Kubek, Clete Boyer, drove in the Yankees 4th run of the inning. But the White Sox were not about to go away easily.

In the top of the 5th, Sherman Lollar went yard off Bill Stafford to get the Chi Sox on the board. Then Frank Baumann, the pitcher who had relived Wynn, also took Stafford deep. The lead was cut in half. When Luis Aparicio singled, the tying run was at the plate with one out. Nellie Fox was the hitter.

He pounded the ball past Boyer.

But not past Kubek.

From deep in the hole, he speared it, made the loooooooong throw to first for the out. Aparicio made it to second, and with his speed, continued to third. Boyer, after all, was still way behind third, from trying to field it. So Kubek had to beat Aparicio there.

And he did just that. BANG! A double play.

A potential big inning, turned into a slight uprising.

The Yankees would not score again until the ninth, as they were clinging to the 2 run lead. Kubek would double home Richardson. Then Mantle singled Tony home for his second RBI on the day, and 76th on the season.

A typical Yankee win. One that Kubek was overlooked, despite doing the necessary things to win.

And Aparicio knew that. "He's a very good shortstop. The talk about Zorro Versalles and Dick Howser. Forget it. Tony's the best!", he said after the game.

How's that for a compliment? From your very own counterpart.

It seemed that Kubek might only get one hit, but it would score a run, or Kubek would score a run. Or it would move a runner to third. But Kubek kept doing it.

On the 17th, he got two hits, one a double.

Then from the 19th to the 25th, Tony Kubek had 9 hits, six of the them doubles. He touched home 3 times and drove in three.

On the 29th of the month, it was another two hit show, against Baltimore. None of them scored a run, and Kubek could not do much on the base paths. But the hits sure helped.

In the third with the Yankees up 3-0, Kubek singled Richardson first to third. Richardson would score on Yogi Berra's single, but Kubek was then caught stealing.

With two down in the bottom of the 5th, Kubek kept the inning alive with a booming ground rule double to right. Berra walked, but Mantle flied out. The Yankees went on to win 5-4 when Berra homered.

Walks by Kubek in July: 3

He started out August with two hits in both ends of a doubleheader. He scored three times and drove in two. His next doubleheader came four days later as he went 1-2 in two pinch hit appearances.

He went from pinch-hitting to playing all ten innings in a 5-4 win over Los Angeles on August 8th. He collected two more hits, two more runs.

Three days later, it was time for, four hits by Tony Kubek.

Facing the expansion Senators, he stroked a triple in the first to score Bobby Richardson. Mickey Mantle drove Kubek home with a sacrifice fly.

Kubek singled to start the 3rd, then scored, along with Berra, when Elston Howard doubled. The Yankees kept adding runs as Kubek batted again that inning with Richardson on first and the Yankees up, 8-0.

He moved Richardson to third with a single, but Maris flied out to center.

In the top of the ninth, it was hit #4 for Kubek, and he scored again as Hector Lopez (who had replaced Mantle in the bottom of the 7th) singled Tony home.

He managed but 2 hits in the next five games, however, bringing him back to earth with a thud. But he wasn't done torching the White Sox. On August 17th, the Yankees were clinging to a one run lead in the fourth, when they added two, before Kubek put them out of their misery. His double to left made it 4-0.

In the sixth, he singled Richardson to second. Kubek was then forced at short by Maris, and Mantle scored Richardson with a groundout.

The Yankees managed to starve off a last ditched comeback effort in the ninth by the Sox to win 5-3.

A bum elbow was to plague him for a while, limiting him to pinch hitting, with little success.

He was back in the lineup on the 25th, but could not get a hit. The next day he got one, but it was a big one.

Kubek, who drew a walk (his second and final one of August) of the A's starter, Jerry Walker, faced him again in the top of the 6th, with the Yanks up 3-0. Kubek led off the inning.

In style, he connected solidly and sent a pitch deep to right for his 6th homerun on the campaign. When Maris followed with his 51st, everyone had forgotten about Tony. The Yankees won the game, 5-1.

He manages just one hit the next day, but it was good enough for an RBI on the Yankee's eight and final run.  The Yankees did need it, as the A's rallied and came up just short, 8-7. It was the Yankees' third straight win.

Three hits in five at bats on the last day of August brought Kubek's average up to .279. But none of the hits or anything else Kubek did that game resulted in an RBI or a run scored.

The Yankees lost the game 5-4 to the Twins.

But September began with a 12 game winning streak by the Yankees.

And Kubek did play a part in many of the wins.

He drove in two runs, and scored one himself, despite just one hit, on September 2nd in a 7-2 win over the Tigers.

He was 1-3 with an RBI on September 4th in the first game of a doubleheader win over Washington.

Then he went 3-5 with a double, a triple and three runs scored on the 7th in a 7-3 win over the Indians.

The next day was another route by the Yankees over the Indians. Can you believe it, it was even more one sided: 9-1.

And Tony Kubek shined!

After Bobby Richardson walked in the bottom of the first, Kubek pushed him to third with a single off future Red Sox Gary Bell.

It was time for Maris and Mantle to do their thing.

How about a little variation, nickle and diming?

Roger grounded out to score Richardson, Kubek was now on second. Mantle was then intentionally walked.

But it backfired as New York went on to score twice more as Kubek and Mantle each got to cross the plate.

It was still a close game as Vic Power struck out in the top of the third. A run would score as it resulted in a wild pitch.

But then Tony Kubek came up in the bottom of the fifth with starter Bill Stafford on third after hitting a triple.

Kubek deposited a Bell pitch into the right field stands for his 7th homerun. One out later, Mantle hit his 52nd to tie a career high. The game was out of reach. It was the Yankees' 96th win on the season.

After a hit, a walk, and a RBI the next day, it was followed by hit (double), a walk, a run, and an RBI on September 10th, the first game of a doubleheader. The second game went well for Kubek and the Yankees, too. Tony was 2-4 with a run scored. It was the fifth straight game that Kubek had scored a run and gotten a hit.

The Yankees recorded their last win of the 12 game winning streak on September 12th. Kubek did not score a run, or even knock in one. He did get a hit in three at bats and also got a sacrifice bunt.

The Yankees then dropped a doubleheader to the White Sox two days later despite Kubek's 2-4 and 1-4 efforts.

And there was no rest for the weary as the Yanks had to play still another doubleheader the next day in Detroit. Kubek would go only 1-9 and the Yankees could win only one of the two games. But in doing so, Tony Kubek scored his 78th run on the season, for a new career high.

The Tigers would route the Yankees on the 16th, despite Kubek's 2-2 day. It included a triple, an RBI, a run scored, and a walk. It was Tony's 44th RBI and 6th triple.

The Yanks would need 12 inning to beat the Tigers 6-4 as Kubek had another two hits and another walk. This time, he scored twice. This brought his runs scored total to 82. This also put his average up to .280.

In the next three games, Kubek was just 2-13 and on 21st of the month, wasn't even in the starting lineup.

Tom Tresh started his first ever game after two token appearances for the Yankees. The Yankees' opponents were the Baltimore Orioles.

And Tresh would play the whole game. But he and his Yankee teammates struggled with O's starter Jack Fisher, who last season gave up Ted Williams 521st and final homerun on his illustrious career. This year, he was destined to give up Roger Maris' 60th homerun.

On this night, he was destined for a good outing.

 It was 5-1 Orioles in the top of the 8th.

Jack Reed's groundout scored the Yankees second run. Kubek was called on to pinch hit for pitcher Bill Stafford.

Then Kubek went yard for the eight time on the season. That made it 5-3, but that was also all for the scoring.

That also seemed to be the end for Kubek. At least for this season.

He collected an RBI in an 8-3 win over the Red Sox the next day, but failed to get a hit. He was also hitless in the next two games.

Then Kubek rested for three games.

There was one game left, October 1st against Boston.

Hardly anyone noticed when Kubek singled with one out in the bottom of the first to end his slump.

The next batter was Roger Maris, stuck on 60 homeruns. He flied out to left field.

In the bottom of the 4th, Kubek struck out. But that was alright by Yankee fans as Maris hit his record breaking 61st homerun next.

Kubek was not done as he hit a bunt single to third.

In the bottom of the eight, Kubek grounded out relief pitcher Chet Nichols.

Then in the top of the ninth with two outs and Carl Yastrzemski on first, Lou Clinton grounded to Bobby Richardson, who tossed to Kubek on second for the force. The Yankees had won the game 1-0.

The Yankees had also finished the season with 109 wins.

Kubek had finished the year with a .276 batting average, 8 homeruns, 46 RBIs and 84 runs scored. Amazingly enough, he had walked just 27 times, so his on base average was just .306.

He played 145 games at shortstop (4th in the AL) and pinch hit 8 times (2-8, .250, 1HR, 1RBI, 1R, 1K).

Kubek appeared in both all star games.

Offensively, his 617 at bats was good enough for 6th place in the American League and his 170 hits was 9th. He wasn't just a singles hitter as his 38th doubles placed him second behind the Tigers' Al Kaline's 41. Tony was 7th in the league in sacrifice bunts with 10.

On the negative side, he made 470 outs on the season, which placed him seventh in the AL.

But how about his defense?

Kubek ranked 8th in defensive Wins Above Replacement with a 1.2 among AL shortstops.

His 449 assists was 3rd in the AL among everyone, and second among shortstops. Only Ron Hansen (with 460) and Luis Aparicio (with 487) had more assists. Aparicio was the only shortstop with more assists. Kubek's 261 putouts was good enough for 3rd among AL shortstops. Only Aparicio (264) and Dick Howser (299) had more.

How about Kubek's Range Factor Per Nine Innings? Kubek's was 5.07, second to Aparicio's 5.08. But Kubek's Range Factor Per Game of 4.90 tops Aparicio's 4.81.

Kubek's .959 fielding percentage was third among shortstops in the AL behind Woodie Held's .960 and Aparicio's .962.

In total chances, only Aparicio's 781 and Howser's 764 were more than Kubek's 740.

But Aparicio would turn just 86 double plays, far back of Kubek's 107 and Hansen's league leading 110.

Now on the negative side, there was those 30 errors committed by Kubek, which is third in the AL. But Howser committed 31 and Hansen committed 38. And Kubek was tied with Zoilo Versalles and Aparicio, actually. So he had pretty good company! Just looking at how they all did just at shortstop, it was a 4 way tie for second: Kubek, Aparicio, Hansen and Versalles.

Kubek could do no better than one walk in game 1 of the 1961 World Series. Cincinnati's Jim O'Toole allowed the Yankees just 6 hits and reliever Jim Brosnan allowed no hits in 8 combined innings of work.

Kubek made it to second after drawing a walk in the first inning. Richardson had singled and was on third. But Yogi Berra popped out.

That was the most Kubek could do. But he did not need to do anything as the Yankees got by this one, 2-0.

In game 2, the Yankees trailed 6-2 in the bottom of the eight and Kubek was still hitless.

He singled off Joey Jay, but Tony moved no further as Maris fanned, Berra flied out and  Johnny Blanchard fouled out. The Yankees went on to lose the game.

The third game saw the Yankees down 1-0 in the seventh inning when Kubek led off with a single. But Maris and Mantle made outs. Would Kubek be left stranded again. A passed ball had moved him to second.

Berra's single drove him home with a single.

With the game tied at 2 in the eight, Richardson singled with two outs. But Kubek ended the inning by flying out to centerfielder Vada Pinson.

Roger Maris won the game in the ninth for the Yankees with a homerun.

In the crucial game 4, New York was up by just a single run, 1-0, in the fifth, when Kubek singled in a vital insurance run, although Maris flied out to end the inning.

However, the Yankees would tack on 5 more runs in the game. Kubek would fly out against Brosnan in the 7th and strikeout against Bill Henry in the ninth.

In game 5, the Yankees were up 5-0 in the top of the second when Kubek singled to left. When Maris followed with a double down the left field line, Tony would score.

In the 4th inning, with the Yankees up 6-3, Kubek led off with a single. Maris flew out, but Blanchard doubled Kubek to third. When Elston Howard walked, the Yankees had the bases loaded. Moose Skowron scored both Kubek and Blanchard with a single. Hector Lopez knocked home three more with a homerun.

Kubek would face Bob Purkey in the 5th and flied out. In the seventh, he faced Brosnan leading off the inning. He flied out to second. But by this point they were up 13-5.

Then in the ninth, Kubek faced Ken Hunt, and grounded out. This would be his last plate appearance.

In the ninth, he took Elio Chacon's grounder and tossed him out at first. When the next two Red batters flied out, the Yankees were World Series Champions.

Overall, in the 1961 World Series, Tony Kubek was 5-22. He scored 3 runs and drove in 1. He also walked once. His batting average was .227.

Kubek was never someone to grab headlines or make awe inspiring plays at shortstop, but to a man, Kubek was as important as any of the players on the 1961 team.


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, pp 129-145.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 16 Dec. 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.