1961 World Series
The 1961 World Series matched the New York Yankees (109-53) against the Cincinnati Reds (93-61), with the Yankees winning in 5 games to earn their 19th championship in their last 39 seasons. After the summer-long Roger Maris/Mickey Mantle pursuit of Babe Ruth's season home run record, the Series proved anti-climactic as the Yanks subdued the Reds easily.
This World Series was surrounded by Cold War political puns pitting the "Reds" against the "Yanks". But the louder buzz concerned the "M&M" boys, Maris and Mantle, who spent the summer chasing the ghost of Babe Ruth and his 60-home run season of 1960. An injury to Mantle in September halted his bid to break the record, and he eventually wound up with 54. The less-popular Maris stayed healthy and broke the record, with 61 dingers, getting the record-breaker on the last day of the season. Due to the expansion of the American League to ten teams, this marked the first year played under the new 162-game schedule. Because it took Maris eight extra games to break Ruth's record (Ruth played under the old 154-game schedule) Commissioner Ford Frick took it upon himself to place an asterisk next to Roger Maris' name in the record books. The asterisk was later struck from the record book.
The was the first year the Yankees were under the leadership of Ralph Houk, who succeeded Casey Stengel as manager. The Yankees, who won the American League pennant easily - eight games better than the Detroit Tigers - set a record for most home runs in a season with 240. Along with Maris and Mantle, four other Yankees, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Bill Skowron, and Johnny Blanchard, all hit over 20. The pitching staff was led by southpaw Whitey Ford (25-4, 3.21), and reliable righties, Ralph Terry, and Bill Stafford. The defense was air-tight with Bobby Richardson at second, Tony Kubek at short, and Clete Boyer at third.
The Reds, skippered by Fred Hutchinson, finished four games better than the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League and boasted four, 20+ home run players of their own: Frank Robinson (37, 124, .323), Gordy Coleman, Gene Freese, and Wally Post. The second-base, shortstop, and catcher positions were platooned while Vada Pinson led the league in hits with 208, finishing second in batting with a .343 average. 21-game winner Joey Jay (21-10, 3.53) led the staff along with dependable Jim O'Toole, and Bob Purkey.
Ford left the 6th inning of Game 4 due to an injured ankle. He had set the record for consecutive scoreless innings during World Series play with 33 1/3, when, during the 3rd inning he passed the previous record holder, Babe Ruth, who had pitched 29 2/3 consecutive scorless innings for the Boston Red Sox in 1916 and 1918.
The only World Series record set by the Reds was accomplished during Game 4 when Frank Robinson was hit twice by a pitch during a single game.
MVP: Whitey Ford
|1||Reds – 0, Yankees – 2||October 4||Yankee Stadium||62,397|
|2||Reds – 6, Yankees – 2||October 5||Yankee Stadium||63,083|
|3||Yankees – 3, Reds – 2||October 7||Crosley Field||32,589|
|4||Yankees – 7, Reds – 0||October 8||Crosley Field||32,589|
|5||Yankees – 13, Reds – 5||October 9||Crosley Field||32,589|
|New York (A)||0||0||0||1||0||1||0||0||x||2||6||0|
|W: Whitey Ford (1-0) L: Jim O'Toole (0-1)|
|HR: NYY – Elston Howard (1), Bill Skowron (1)|
At Yankee Stadium, Whitey Ford established himself as the premier post-season pitcher by tossing his third straight World Series shutout in Game 1 against the Reds. Two home runs is all Ford would need, a 4th-inning sizzler into the lower right-field stands by Elston Howard, and a 6th-inning shot into the lower left-field stands by Moose Skowron. The two-hour, 11-minute game featured only two hits by the stymied Reds, a 1st-inning bloop single to left by Eddie Kasko, and a 5th-inning single by Wally Post. The only other baserunner the Reds would put on base this afternoon was a walk to Frank Robinson in the 7th. Otherwise, "The Chairman of the Board" was as dominant as one pitcher could be, adding six strikeouts along the way. Jim O'Toole pitched well for the losing Reds allowing just 6 hits in 7 innings of work, striking out two and walking four.
Ford was also aided by two spectacular defensive plays by third baseman Clete Boyer. In the 2nd inning, Boyer backhanded a Gene Freese ground ball close to the bag, wheeled around, and threw out his third base counterpart from his knees. In the 8th inning, Boyer dove to his left onto his stomach after a Dick Gernert ground ball; coming up with the ball, Boyer threw Gernert out, also from his knees.
|New York (A)||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||x||2||4||3|
|W: Joey Jay (1-0) L: Ralph Terry (0-1)|
|HR: CIN – Gordy Coleman (1) NYY – Yogi Berra (1)|
The Reds came charging back on superb pitching by Joey Jay to win Game 2 and even the series at one game apiece. First baseman Gordy Coleman and left-fielder Yogi Berra traded two-run homers in the 4th. Coleman hit his homer into the right-center field bleachers after Frank Robinson reached base on an error by Yankee third baseman Clete Boyer. After Roger Maris led off the bottom half with a walk, Berra tied the score with a drive into the lower right-field stands.
From that point on, Jay would give up only two more hits, a Berra single in the 6th, and a Tony Kubek single to center in the 8th. The Reds continued to score getting single runs in the 5th and 6th and two in the 8th. The Reds went ahead for good with two outs in the 5th when Elio Chacon sprinted home from third on an Elston Howard passed ball that didn't get much further than fifteen feet away. Yankee starter Ralph Terry would give up one more run in the 6th on a Wally Post double and a run-scoring single by eighth-place hitter Johnny Edwards, before being lifted in the 7th for pinch-hitter Hector Lopez.
Luis Arroyo took over in the 8th and subsequently walked Robinson, gave up an infield single to Coleman on a roller between third and the mound, and then threw wildly to first with Robinson scoring - Coleman was thrown out trying for third. The next batter, Wally Post reached safely when Berra misplayed his fly for a three-base error. Gene Freese was intentionally walked for the second time in the game and Edwards followed with his second hit of the game, a bloop double to left, scoring Post. Jay would seal the victory for the Reds, retiring six of the remaining seven batters allowing only a walk to Clete Boyer in the 9th.
|New York (A)||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||1||3||6||1|
|W: Luis Arroyo (1-0) L: Bob Purkey (0-1)|
|HR: NYY – Johnny Blanchard (1), Roger Maris (1)|
The friendly confines of Crosley Field in Cincinnati, OH would favor the visiting Yankees as they would have little trouble sweeping the three-game set, reclaiming their title with their nineteenth Championship trophy.
Game 3 pitted Yankee, Bill Stafford against Red, Bob Purkey. Stafford, who was probably best known as the winning pitcher when Roger Maris hit his 61st home run, pitched brillantly for 6 and 2/3 innings. Knuckleballer Purkey, who, in 1962, would lead the NL in winning percentage (.821) with a sparkling 23-5 mark, had amazing control throughout the game but would lose a heartbreaker on a Maris solo home run in the 9th.
Cincinnati struck first with a run in the bottom of the 3rd when Elio Chacon beat out a bunt and booked down to second when Stafford threw wildly to first. After Eddie Kasko fouled to Bill Skowron, and a Vada Pinson ground out sent Chacon to third, Frank Robinson delivered, hitting a double off the left-field wall making the score 1-0 until the 7th.
In the 7th, the Yankees tied it up when Tony Kubek led off with a single to center and settled into second on a Johnny Edwards passed ball. After Mickey Mantle struck out, Yogi Berra would bloop a "Texas League" single to short-right scoring Kubek. The Reds catcher, Edwards, would shortly redeem himself doubling into the right-field corner, eventually scoring on a Kasko single to left. Buddy Daley came in to relieve Stafford and retired Pinson on a fly out to right to end the inning.
The Reds' lead would be short-lived as the Yankees tied the score in the next inning, the 8th, when, with two outs, Johnny Blanchard, pinch-hiiting for Daley, smacked a Purkey knuckler into the right-field bleachers. The Reds went quietly in the bottom of the inning, the scored tied at 2-2.
In the 9th, a Purkey knuckler didn't knuckle and Maris kayoed the pitch into familiar territory, the deep right-field bleachers, for his 62nd home run of the year and the game-winner. That would be enough for the Yankees as a still-ailing Mantle, who would only appear in two games with 6 at-bats, struck out and Berra and Elston Howard both grounded out to end the inning. With Luis Arroyo, who arrived in the 8th, on the mound for the Yankees, the Reds had one last shot. After Gene Freese struck out, Leo Cardenas, batting for Johnny Edwards, doubled off the left-center field scoreboard. One out, runner on second base, Dick Gernert pinch-hitting for Purkey, grounded to short, Cardenas holding. The third pinch-hitter in the inning, Gus Bell, dashed all hope by grounding back to the mound, Arroyo to Skowron, to end the game. The Yankees now led 2 games to 1 in the series.
|New York (A)||0||0||0||1||1||2||3||0||0||7||11||0|
|W: Whitey Ford (2-0) L: Jim O'Toole (0-2) S: Jim Coates (1)|
Whitey Ford started Game 4 for the Yankees in an attempt to continue his post-season shutout streak, but more importantly to give the Bronx Bombers a 3-1 lead in the Series. He accomplished both. At the end of the 3rd inning, Ford had retired the first nine batters of the game and when Elio Chacon grounded out to Bobby Richardson at second base for the final out in the 3rd, he broke Babe Ruth's record of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings with his string now at 30. "The Chairman" would remain in the game until the end of the 5th when an apparent ankle injury forced him out of the game - leaving with a new record of 32 straight shutout innings. Jim Coates entered the game in the 6th and pitched shutout ball of his own for the remainder of the contest.
In the meantime, the Yankees were having no problems scoring against the Reds. In the 4th, Roger Maris led off with a walk followed by Mickey Mantle's single to left-center. With blood soaking his uniform due to an abscess off his right hip, Mantle left the game and was replaced by pinch-runner Hector Lopez. Elston Howard grounded into a double play but Maris scored the game's first run. The Yanks added a run in the 5th on a walk to Ford, a Bobby Richardson single to right-center, and a run-scoring single by Tony Kubek.
In the 6th, right-hander Jim Brosnan took over for the left-handed Jim O'Toole and proceeded to load the bases. With one out, Howard doubled to right-center and after Yogi Berra was intentionally walked, Skowron busied the bases beating out a slow roller to third. Clete Boyer found a pitch to his liking and pulled a double to left, plating two runs. Ford batted, and ended the inning grounding into a strange double play. After Gordy Coleman touched first to put out Ford, he raced across the diamond and tagged Skowron who was trapped between third and home, for an unassisted DP.
The Yankees added three more runs in the 7th capped by Moose Skowron's third hit of the game. The Reds could only muster 5 hits in total against winner Ford and reliever Coates, who earned a much deserved four-inning save. With two embarrassing losses in front of the home crowd, the Reds had one more chance to continue the Series at home, but the Yankees had another Championship in their sights.
|New York (A)||5||1||0||5||0||2||0||0||0||13||15||1|
|W:Bud Daley (1-0) L: Joey Jay (1-1)|
|HR: NYY – Johnny Blanchard (2), Hector Lopez (1) CIN – Frank Robinson (1), Wally Post (1)|
Future Hall of Famers, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle sat out Game 5 of the Series; Berra because of a stiff shoulder, and Mantle, still suffering from the abscess on his hip. But substitutes Hector Lopez and Johnny Blanchard would more than make up for the absence of the two stars. Lopez would drive in five runs with a triple and a home run, and Blanchard's three hits would include a double and a homer.
The Yankees wasted no time, empowering their lumber, in manufacturing five first-inning runs. Before the game was over, Red manager Fred Hutchinson would march eight pitchers to and from the mound, in as many vain attempts to settle down the Yankee pinstripers.
Reds starter, Joey Jay, with 14 regular season complete games, would uncharacteristically last only a third of an inning. After Bobby Richardson singled to start the game, Jay retired Tony Kubek and Roger Maris on fly ball outs. But the proverbial "flood-gates" opened when the next batter, Blanchard, hit a two-run homer into the right-field bleachers. The next batter, Elston Howard, was awarded a ground-rule double when his blast went through an opening in the left-center field scoreboard. Bill Skowron followed with a long single off the left-field fence, scoring Howard. Jim Maloney entered the game and was immediately greeted with a Lopez triple, scoring Skowron. Clete Boyer continued the assault doubling off the scoreboard, scoring Lopez. The ninth batter of the inning, Yankee pitcher Ralph Terry, would mercifully strike out to end the inning but not until 5 Yankee runners had touched home plate.
The stunned Reds fans, barely settled in their seats, were in for a long afternoon. The Yanks added to their lead in the 2nd on a Kubek single and a Maris double that landed just inside the left-field line. The Reds players sent false hope to their fans when they came to life in the bottom of the 3rd with a rally to make the score, 6-3. Don Blasingame led off with a single to center; Eddie Kasko singled to left; and Vada Pinson hit a fly ball, moving Blasingame to third. Frank Robinson then took Terry deep with a three-run shot over the right-center field fence. Taking no chances, manager Ralph Houk replaced Terry with Buddy Daley, who allowed no other runs to score in the inning.
The Yankee rumpus continued in the 4th when another five runs were added to their score. The big blows in the inning were a two-run single by Skowron and a three-run home run to dead center by Lopez. But once again the Reds would try to come back and after scoring two runs in the bottom of the 5th (on a two-run Wally Post home run), still found themselves down, 11-5. For good measure, the New Yorkers added 2 more runs in the 6th on sacrifices by Lopez (on a squeeze play) and a fly ball by Daley. For the rest of the game the Reds put men on base but failed to score, finally going down quietly, in order, in the 9th. Without the M&M boys, the Yankee bench pulled through for inaugural manager Houk, who became only the third skipper in history to win the World Series in his freshman year.
|New York Yankees||5||1||4||9||1||5||4||1||1||27||42||5|
|Total Attendance: 223,247 Average Attendance: 44,649|
|Winning Player’s Share: – $7,389 Losing Player’s Share – $5,356|
References and Further Reading
- Robert Creamer and Ralph Houk: Season of Glory: The Amazing Saga of the 1961 New York Yankees, G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1988.
- Donald Honig: 1961: The Year That Was, Bantam Books, New York, NY, 1989. ISBN 0553282743
- David Neft and Richard Cohen: The World Series. St Martins, New York, NY, 1990 pp. 287-291.
- 1961 World Series at Baseball-Reference.com
- 1961 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1961 World Series at Baseball-Almanac.com
- 1961 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- The History of the Cincinnati Reds at redshistory.com
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series