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1967 World Series (4-3)

St. Louis Cardinals (101-60, NL) over Boston Red Sox (92-70, AL)


Contents

[edit] Introduction

The 1967 World Series pitted the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox in a rematch the 1946 World Series, which was incidentally Boston's last post-season appearance, and which also went to the limit. The Cardinals emerged on top thanks to outstanding performances by Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, but the underdog Red Sox were in it until the final match-up of ace pitchers in Game 7.

The Red Sox had wallowed in mediocrity since their last World Series appearance, so much so that their pennant in 1967 was a complete surprise, an Impossible Dream coming at the end of perhaps the greatest pennant race in history, a tight four-way affair that had seen Boston, the Detroit Tigers, the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox all finish within 3 games of each other.

The Red Sox has suffered one crushing blow during the season, the loss of OF Tony Conigliaro to a terrible beaning on August 18, and had seen two stars carry the team on their shoulders: OF Carl Yastrzemski and P Jim Lonborg. They would respectively win the American league MVP and Cy Young Award after the season.

The Cardinals had won the World Series in 1964, and then fallen back over the following two seasons as they renewed their line-up. By 1967, they were again the class of the National League, winning the pennant by 10 games over the San Francisco Giants in spite of ace pitcher Bob Gibson being limited to 24 games and a 13-7 record. Their equivalent to Yastrzemski was 1B Orlando Cepeda, who would win the National League's MVP award.

[edit] The Teams

[edit] The Boston Red Sox

Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 and Barry Bonds passed him with 73 in 2001. Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games in 1941, the same year that Ted Williams hit .406. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927 and Hack Wilson set a major league record with 190 RBI in 1930. Rogers Hornsby's .424 batting average in 1924 is the highest modern day average ever.

Carl Yastrzemski set no significant major league records in 1967. But it would be difficult to find a player who had a greater single season than the Boston Red Sox left fielder did that year.

"Certainly it was the best year of any player I've ever been associated with and I played on some pretty good Brooklyn teams," manager Dick Williams said in his autobiography No More Mister Nice Guy. "I don't think anybody will ever have a year like this."

All Yastrzemski did was lead the 1967 American League with a .326 batting average, 44 home runs and 121 RBI, earning him the Triple Crown. He also led the league in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, extra base hits and runs scored.

The Boston Red Sox had finished in ninth place in 1966 but led by their 27-year-old outfielder, they overcame 100-1 odds and won their first American League pennant since 1946. They did so in one of the greatest pennant races ever seen, a four-team affair involving the Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox that went down to the final weekend of the season.

The Red Sox needed to win two from the Minnesota Twins on the final weekend and did so as Yastrzemski finished off a terrific September by going for 7-for-8 in those last two games.

A three-run home run on Saturday gave the Red Sox a 6-4 victory and on that final Sunday he delivered a two-run single in the sixth inning that erased the Twins' 2-0 lead. The Red Sox went on to win 5-3. In his final 27 games of the season, Yastrzemski hit .417, scored 24 runs and drove home 26.

Yastrzemski had help from a club built by an exceptionally productive farm system and a few shrewd trades. Most notable was pitcher Jim Lonborg, who learned from pitching coach Sal Maglie how to pitch inside and blossomed into a 22-game winner.

In a stretch from 1964-1967, the Red Sox farm system, under the watch of Neil Mahoney, produced a number of future All-Stars including outfielders Reggie Smith and Tony Conigliaro, infielders Mike Andrews, Rico Petrocelli and George Scott and pitchers Jim Lonborg, Jose Santiago and Ken Brett. It was a remarkable run of talent.

General manager Dick O'Connell was also busy as Pitcher Gary Bell and infielder Jerry Adair were acquired by trade and outfielder Ken Harrelson was signed as a free agent after being let go by the Kansas City Athletics. The Red Sox had also brought up a lefthanded reliever in August who saved five games down the stretch, then hurt his arm and was unavailable for the World Series. Sparky Lyle would go on to be remembered for other reasons.

In 1967 they all came together under rookie manager Dick Williams, who was something just this side of Captain Bligh but shook up a country club atmosphere and brought baseball back to life in a town that had seen little but misery and despair for a decade. As much as Boston is considered a great baseball town, the Red Sox had not had a winning season since 1958 and owner Tom Yawkey was even mulling the possibility of replacing Fenway Park.

The Impossible Dream changed all that.

[edit] The St. Louis Cardinals

The Red Sox's opponents in the World Series were the formidable St. Louis Cardinals, who had won the National League pennant by 10 1/2 games even though Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson missed six weeks with a broken leg after getting hit by Roberto Clemente's line drive in July.

The Cardinals, managed by former All-Star second baseman Red Schoendienst, were a special team. Not only were they blessed with extraordinary talent, including four eventual Hall of Famers, but they also played with a special blend of cohesiveness that rose above the difficult Civil Rights period of the time. While the rest of America struggled with racial tension, the Cardinals embraced their differences and played together as a team in a manner that was truly special.

"The Cardinals of 1967 and 1968 must have been the most remarkable team in the history of baseball," outfielder Curt Flood said in his autobiography The Way It Is. "I speak now of the team's social achievements, without which its pitching, batting and fielding would have been less triumphant than they were. The men of that team were as close to being free of racist poison as a diverse group of 20th century Americans could possibly be."

"It was baseball on a new level. On that team, we cared about each other and shared with each other, and face it, inspired each other. As friends we had become solicitous of each other's ailments and eccentricities, proud of each other's strengths. We achieved a closeness impossible by other means. And we did it by ourselves."

There was talent too, especially pitching. Gibson only won 13 games because of his broken leg. But rookie Dick Hughes went 16-6, Nelson Briles was 14-5 and Steve Carlton, just getting started on a Hall of Fame career, was 14-9. The bullpen was deep.

The lineup was made up of players who were simply winners. Outfielders Lou Brock and Flood, infielders Mike Shannon and Julian Javier and catcher Tim McCarver had all played on the 1964 world championship team.

The Cardinals slipped after that but on May 8, 1966, they had acquired first baseman Orlando Cepeda from the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Ray Sadecki and, in the winter of 1966-1967, they picked up Roger Maris from the New York Yankees. Cepeda went on to have his best year ever, hitting .325 with 25 home runs and 111 RBI, and was a unanimous winner of the National League Most Valuable Player award.

The Cardinals won 101 games and were favored against the Boston Red Sox, who had been carried for six months by their sensational left fielder and their ace righthanded pitcher. But the Cardinals had a left fielder and a pitcher who were pretty good as well.

The 1967 World Series would be remembered not for any classic games but by great individual performances.

[edit] Umpires

[edit] The Series

[edit] Game One: October 4

Out of Left Field

October 4, 1967 at Fenway Park in Boston, MA (Attendance: 34,796) Boxscore
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis Cardinals 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 10 0
Boston Red Sox 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0
Win: Bob Gibson (1-0) Loss: Jose Santiago (0-1)
Home Runs: Jose Santiago, BOS

Any good Chicago Cubs fan can list a dozen reasons why their team hasn't won a World Series. Almost all would no doubt include a trade that was made with the St. Louis Cardinals on June 15, 1964. It was a six-player trade, but four of the players are little remembered. What Cubs fans remember most is that was the day their team traded Lou Brock to the Cardinals for pitcher Ernie Broglio.

The Cubs thought Brock should play center field because of his speed and were disappointed at what they saw. The Cardinals didn't care about that. They had one of the best defensive outfielders in the game in Curt Flood. They put Brock in left field and let his offense take over.

Brock, traded three days short of his 25th birthday, was a good young player for the Cubs. With the Cardinals he would achieve greatness. Renowned as one of the best base stealers in the history of the game, Brock could also hit for average and power as well. His Hall of Fame career would end with 3,023 hits, including 149 home runs.

He dedicated the 1967 season to his younger brother Curt, who had died the previous winter, and had a tremendous season, batting .299 with 52 stolen bases and 113 runs scored. He also hit 21 home runs and drove in a remarkable 76 RBI from the leadoff spot. He was the first player in baseball history to steal 50 bases and hit 20 home runs in the same season.

Game 1 would be his as the Cardinals settled in to Fenway Park and looked out at the daunting 34-foot Green Monster wall that hovered over left field.

"I told them don't try to knock it down," Schoendienst said. "It's put up there too solid."

Gibson, who was going on four days rest, started for the Cardinals but would not face Lonborg. Because the American League race had gone down to the last day, Lonborg had to pitch the final game against the Twins on Sunday. That made him unavailable for Game 1 of the World Series, played before 34,796 fans at Fenway Park on a Wednesday. Lonborg would have to wait until Game 2 so he could pitch on his normal three days rest.

The Red Sox instead went with righthander Jose Santiago, a 12-game winner, in Game 1. But that wasn't all that was bothering the Red Sox.

"Someone messed up our pregame batting achedule and our batting practice was cut from 45 minutes to 20," Yastrzemski said in his autobiography Yaz, Baseball, The Wall and Me. "We only got half the swings we should have received. I had about a third and felt rusty. And we needed them after the emotional tumult we had gone through for a solid month... I just didn't feel ready. I don't know how many of us did."

Brock was ready and led off the game with a single to left. He then stole second base. The Cardinals didn't score but Brock had already made his presence felt for the Series.

In the third, Brock led off again and singled to center. This time Flood, a .335 hitter during the regular season in addition to his brilliant defense, doubled him to third and Brock scored when Roger Maris hit a grounder to second base.

Santiago tied it up for the Red Sox in the bottom of the inning with a home run, one of only two he would hit as a major leaguer. It would also be the only run the Red Sox would score in their first 22 innings against Gibson.

But Santiago couldn't get Brock out. In the fourth, with Julian Javier on second and two out, Brock singled to left. This time Yastrzemski came through, throwing out Javier trying to score to end the inning. Yastrzemski also made a terrific catch on Flood's liner to start the fifth.

The Red Sox though couldn't get anything going against Gibson, who allowed just six hits while striking out ten. Santiago matched him inning for inning but then there was Brock.

In the seventh, Brock singled to right for his fourth hit of the game. Again he took off for second and this time the Red Sox thought catcher Russ Gibson's throw had him. But second base umpire Frank Umont ruled safe despite shortstop Rico Petrocelli's protests, and Curt Flood moved him to third with a ground ball to first base.

With one out, the Red Sox brought the infield in and Roger Maris hit a ground ball to the right side. But second baseman Jerry Adair had to make a diving stop and had to throw to first, allowing Brock to score.

"Brock's speed paid off," Williams said afterward. "If the ball had been hit straight at him, it might have been different."

It was the second RBI on the afternoon for Maris, who like Brock was just getting started.

Maris was not the great player who once hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees in 1961. A hand injury had robbed him of much of his power in his final years with the Yankees and was planning to retire when was traded to the Cardinals.

Ultimately he decided to keep playing and in his first at-bat with the Cardinals, Maris doubled, went sliding into second base and received a standing ovation from the fans at Busch Stadium. He finished the season with 61 RBI and still called it his best year since 1961.

Maris would be huge in the World Series. While Cepeda, Tim McCarver and Mike Shannon were held in check much of the time, Maris would make Brock's speed pay off by hitting .385 with seven RBI.

On the mound, Gibson did not allow a runner past first base after the fourth inning – McCarver cut down Smith trying to steal in the sixth – and the Cardinals held on for a 2-1 victory.

"I guess we had the wrong book on Brock," Williams said. "The book worked on Orlando Cepeda and we got him four straight times. But nothing worked for Brock."

After the game, Yastrzemski took batting practice on the field while the press looked on. He had been 0-for-4 and embarrassed. Rico Petrocelli and Ken Harrelson joined him and the writers covering the game made a big deal out of it. Nobody had ever taken batting practice after a World Series game, but the Red Sox didn't care.

Yastrzemski walked off the field feeling much better and told someone, "I'm going to hit two out tomorrow."

Yastrzemski had predicted the Red Sox would win in six and wasn't ready to back down now.

"I don't think they're any better club than we are," Yastrzemski said. "And I can't wait to face Gibson again."

He would get his chance.

[edit] Game Two: October 5

October 5, 1967 at Fenway Park in Boston, MA (Attendance: 35,188) Boxscore
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis Cardinals 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Boston Red Sox 0 0 0 1 0 1 3 0 x 5 9 0
Win: Jim Lonborg (1-0) Loss: Dick Hughes (0-1)
Home Runs: Carl Yastrzemski, BOS (2)

But first the Cardinals had to face Jim Lonborg. He was a soft-spoken righthander from Stanford University who aspired to be a dentist. He also liked to ski, later much to the Red Sox regret, and had been known as Gentleman Jim.

It was not a compliment. The nickname spoke to his timidity on the mound. But that changed with the help of Sal "The Barber" Maglie, the Red Sox pitching coach who taught Lonborg to pitch inside and not be afraid to hit or knock down hitters.

Lonborg hit a league-high 19 batters in 1967. He also led the league with 22 wins and 246 strikeouts.

His first pitch to Brock came high and inside, sending the Cardinals Game 1 star backward. There was no doubt the pitch was thrown just exactly where Lonborg wanted it to go. All his pitches that day were near-perfect. Lonborg retired the first 19 batters he faced before walking Flood with one out in the seventh. In the eighth, he lost his chance at a no-hitter when Javier doubled to left. The Cardinals did nothing more.

Yastrzemski did much. He gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with a home run in the first off Cardinals starter Dick Hughes, then fulfilled his prediction by hitting a three-run home run in the seventh off Joe Hoerner.

Lonborg finished with a one-hitter and the Red Sox came away with a 5-0 victory.

"I'm always happy when I pitch well and we win but I'm disappointed that I didn't get the no-hitter," Lonborg said after the game. "That's the one goal that's eluded me this fabulous season. I'll get that no-hitter one day."

Still, the World Series was going to St. Louis tied one game each. But the Cardinals had not forgotten the pitch at Brock's head.

[edit] Game Three: October 7

Meet Me in St. Louis

October 7, 1967 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO (Attendance: 54,575) Boxscore
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston Red Sox 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 7 1
St. Louis Cardinals 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 x 5 10 0
Win: Nelson Briles (1-0) Loss: Gary Bell (0-1)
Home Runs: Mike Shannon, STL; Reggie Smith, BOS

The Boston Red Sox knew very well the dangers of a pitch thrown high and inside.

For much of the season, Tony Conigliaro had been as big a part of the Red Sox season as Yastrzemski and Lonborg. As of August 18, the immensely popular Massachusetts native was hitting .287 with 20 home runs and 67 RBI, possessing a swing that was perfect for Fenway Park's Green Monster left field wall.

But on that fateful night, California Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton hit him in the face with a pitch, allegedly a spitter.

Said Williams, "My heart stopped. I raced to the plate and saw a man lying motionless, with blood rushing from his nose and a left eye already beginning to blacken and swell as we watched. In a few minutes he started flipping his legs around in agony and we could no longer watch."

The beaning was one of the most famous in baseball history. Conigliaro did not play in the 1967 World Series and would not play again until 1969. Yastrzemski later maintained the Red Sox would have won in five had Conigliaro been in the lineup.

Schoendienst had debated his Game 3 starter, but ultimately went with Nelson Briles, who had replaced Gibson in the rotation and won 14 games. He had an immediate assignment.

Briles started the game by getting Jose Tartabull to ground out and Dalton Jones then struck out. That brought up Yastrzemski.

"I knew I was going to get drilled," Yastrzemski said.

He did, on the left calf. Dick Williams came out, yelling at home plate umpire Frank Umont.

"What are we gonna have here, a throwing contest?" Williams shouted. "I know that was deliberate. He threw behind him. Two can play this game."

Schoendienst joined the argument.

"What the hell are you talking about," the Cardinals manager retorted. "Lonborg was bragging that he brushed back our guys the last game."

Umont took control and told both managers to stop it.

Wrote Williams in his book, "I went nuts on the bench and I would have thrown at Briles if this wasn't the World Series and we were hanging on by our cuticles."

Yastrzemski was thrown out trying to take second on a pitch that got away from McCarver. Trying to gain revenge by going deep, Yastrzemski would be ineffective the rest of the day by grounding out in his next three at-bats.

"I hit him on the knee," Briles told author Peter Golenbock in The Spirit of St. Louis. "And from that point on, we had a Series. All the junk was out of the way. There were no more knock downs, no more nonsense."

Instead there was Lou Brock, who came up in the bottom of the first inning and led off with a triple. Curt Flood followed with a single off Red Sox starter Gary Bell and the Cardinals led 1-0.

In the second, Tim McCarver singled and Mike Shannon hit a two-run home run to left.

Shannon had been the Cardinals right fielder in the 1964 World Series and had hit a big two-run home run in a Game 1 victory over the New York Yankees. Those were his only two RBI of the Series.

When the Cardinals acquired Maris in the winter of 1966-1967, Shannon agreed to switch to third base, a significant sacrifice. He hit .245 with 12 home runs but his 77 RBI were second on the team. Again, his Game 3 two-run home run would be his only two RBI of the Series. But they were two big ones and Cardinals fans never forgot.

After his career was over, Shannon would remain an icon in St. Louis as a broadcaster and owner of a popular restaurant.

The Red Sox stayed in the game because rookie Gary Waslewski, taking over for Bell in the third inning, pitched three perfect innings. But Brock wasn't done.

The Cardinals were up 3-1 in the sixth when Brock beat out a bunt to lead off the inning. Knowing the threat, Red Sox reliever Lee Stange tried to keep him close and threw wildly to first. Brock raced ro third and scored on a single by Maris.

Reggie Smith hit a home run for the Red Sox in the eighth but Maris beat out an infield hit with two out in the bottom of the inning. That brought up Orlando Cepeda.

Nine years earlier, Cepeda had been the 1958 National League Rookie of the Year as a first baseman for the San Francisco Giants. One season later the Giants had another first baseman who won the Rookie of the Year Award in Willie McCovey.

The Giants would spend the next five seasons trying to keep both Cepeda and McCovey in the lineup, trying one, then the other in the outfield. Both needed to be at first base, especially when they started suffering from bad knees and the agonizing debate was never satisfied.

But there were other problems, particularly the ones Cepeda had with his managers. Alvin Dark especially was was not particularly fond of Cepeda or Latin players in general, forbidding them from speaking Spanish on the team bus or playing their music in the clubhouse. It was a turbulent time for the Giants and for Cepeda.

Dark said Cepeda had more minuses than pluses and at one point said, "Among other things, I'm getting sick and tired of people leading the league in home runs and runs batted in and not helping us any!"

In his autobiography Baby Bull, Cepeda wrote, "To be blunt, on many occasions Alvin made my life a living hell... I believe that Alvin's racial attitudes were harmful to the best interests of the ballclub in general, and to the Latin players in particular.

"We were never a unified team... We were a club made up of three distinct groups: whites, blacks, and Latins. And even among the black players, there was animosity between American blacks and Latin blacks."

Cepeda still averaged 107 RBI a year for his first seven years in the big leagues. In 1962, Cepeda led the National League with 46 home runs and 142 RBI while playing 81 games at first and 80 in the outfield and the Giants won their only pennant of the decade.

Dark was eventually replaced by Herman Franks, who wanted to play McCovey at first base and Cepeda in the outfield. But a knee injury in 1965 limited Cepeda to 33 games and frustrated his manager.

"Herman kept calling me lazy," Cepeda said. "He insisted I was faking."

The following May the Giants finally resolved their problem by trading Cepeda to St. Louis for [[Ray Sadecki], a lefthander who had won 20 games for the 1964 World Champions.

Schoendienst was waiting for him and told Cepeda, "You'll bat cleanup, you'll play first base, you'll play every game. We love you."

That's all Cepeda needed. That Cepeda was able to flourish in St. Louis after going through so much in San Francisco speaks volumes about the special unity that made the Cardinals such a great team.

"When Cepeda came to St. Louis, his personality seemed to blossom," Briles said. "There was a good comfort zone for him. I liked him very much. He had the nickname Cha-Cha and we really liked that. Cepeda and Maris were good fits on our club because we were pretty loose."

In the eighth inning of Game 3, Cepeda doubled to right and Maris scored. It was Cepeda's only RBI of the Series and he finished with a .103 average. But the Cardinals were there because of what he had done during the regular season and it says something that he was unanimous choice for the MVP.

Briles finished with a complete-game victory and the Cardinals were up 2-1. But the Red Sox had not forgotten Briles hitting Yastrzemski.

"The St. Louis Cardinals are as bush as the beer company that owns them," Williams snapped afterward.

[edit] Game Four: October 8

October 8, 1967 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO (Attendance: 54.575) Boxscore
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston Red Sox 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
St. Louis Cardinals 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 9 0
Win: Bob Gibson (2-0) Loss: Jose Santiago (0-2))
Home Runs: none

But there was nothing bush about Pack Robert Gibson, the 31-year-old righthander from Omaha who suffered from rickets and asthma when he was young and needed special permission from a doctor to compete in athletics because of a heart murmur.

He had been a two-sport star at Creighton University and also played for the Harlem Globetrotters, an odd incongruity that an intensely private athlete would play for a basketball team world-renowned for its showboating antics.

Gibson would eventually sign with the St. Louis Cardinals and his first manager Solly Hemus insisted that he would never amount to much because he threw everything at the same speed.

Said catcher Tim McCarver, "Maybe he did but that speed was about a thousand miles per hour and it nearly tore off my hand every time I caught him. He had to be the hardest pitcher I ever caught..."

Joe Torre, after Gibson retired, eventually hired him as a pitching coach. When asked what made Gibson a great pitcher, Torre said, "Try pride, intensity, talent, respect, dedication... you need them all."

He was also considered one of the meanest pitchers in baseball and intimidation was very much a part of his game.

"It was said that I threw basically five pitches – fastball, slider, curve, change-up and knockdown," Gibson said. "I don't believe that assessment did me justice though. I actually used about nine pitches – two different fastballs, two sliders, a curve, a change-up, knockdown, brushback and hit-batsman."

The 1967 season had been difficult for him. He was on his way to another 20-win season when Clemente hit him with the line drive.

"I was definitely thinking of another 20-game season," Gibson said. "I knew we had a good team, and I was looking forward to winning a lot of games. Then when I got injured, I was really disappointed.

"I started feeling sorry for myself. I think that's a natural reaction. I thought what I could have done and what I couldn't have done. I don't think I could have missed 20 games the way the team was going. But then I realized there was nothing I really could do about it."

Gibson returned in September and won three of four decisions, including a complete-game victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last start. But, as always, he saved his best work for the World Series. Time and time again Hemus was proven dead wrong.

On October 8, a dark, damp afternoon with 54,575 fans at Busch Stadium, Gibson took the mound and retired the Red Sox in the first despite a single by Yastrzemski.

In the bottom of the inning, facing Jose Santiago again, Brock led off with a single and went to third on a single by Curt Flood. Roger Maris doubled them both home. Santiago would not get out of the first inning as Julian Javier and weak-hitting shortstop Dal Maxvill also delivered run-scoring singles.

The Cardinals led 4-0 and the game was all but over with Gibson on the mound. He allowed five hits and a walk. At one point he retired 14 straight hitters. The Red Sox did not put two runners on base in any inning. They did not get a runner to second base until Yastrzemski doubled leading off the ninth.

He didn't score. The Cardinals had added two runs in the third and Gibson finished with a complete-game shutout, beating the Red Sox 6-0.

[edit] Game Five: October 9

October 9, 1967 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO (Attendance: 54,575) Boxscore
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston Red Sox 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 6 1
St. Louis Cardinals 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 2
Win: Jim Lonborg (2-0) Loss: Steve Carlton (0-1)
Home Runs: Roger Maris, STL
Jim lonborg.jpg

The Cardinals needed one more victory. With Game 5 scheduled for Busch Stadium, the Cardinals didn't even bother bringing their bags for a flight to Boston. They expected to wrap it up at home.

"Before it started, I'd predicted we'd win four out of five," Gibson said after Game 4. "Maybe that's how it will go. But it we go to the seventh game, I'll be ready. I don't know if I'll do well or not, but I'll be ready.

"Of course I'd just as soon have it end tomorrow so I can go home."

Others felt that would happen. Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote a column that refered to Boston's team as the Dead Sox.

"Is this what you guys want everyone to think of you?" Williams said to his team before Game 5. "Who is this guy Murray, anyway to say this crap about you. We're the guys who were 100-1 shots."

The Red Sox felt confident because Jim Lonborg was pitching, even though he had a case of the sniffles. But the Cardinals, for the second straight game, were sending a pitcher to the mound who would one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Steve Carlton was just 22 at the time. He had tried out for the Cardinals out of high school but went back to Florida without being signed. When pitching coach Howie Pollet heard about it, he offered to pay the $5,000 bonus himself.

Carlton did sign, but in 1967, he was yet to become the supremely confident pitcher who would win four Cy Young Awards.

"Steve Carlton was always certain that each inning would be his last," Curt Flood said. "'I haven't got it' he would moan to me on the bench while our side was at bat. 'I'm shot, I'll never make it. They better take me out.'

"I used to give him the old Knute Rockne... 'Carlton, you gotta hang in there. You're all we've got. Now get your ass in gear and earn your money.' And he would drag his miserable self to the mound and throw the best left-handed stuff since Koufax, dying with every pitch."

In the bottom of the first inning, Lou Brock hit a fly ball to deep right that was caught. On his way back to the bench, Flood told Brock, "Don't worry Lou, we're going to get this guy today."

He was wrong. Lonborg was almost as good in Game 5 as he was in Game 2.

As for Carlton, Joe Foy singled to left with one out in the third. Mike Andrews dropped a bunt that Mike Shannon bobbled for an error, putting runners on first and second. Carlton then struck out Yastrzemski, bringing up Ken Harrelson.

Harrelson played for three teams in 1967. He started with the Washington Senators but was traded to the Kansas City Athletics. Then, in August, Athletics mercurial owner Charles Finley fired manager Alvin Dark, who had moved on to Kansas City after leaving San Francisco.

When asked about it, Harrelson was quoted as saying Finley was a "menace to baseball." Furious, Finley responded by releasing Harrelson. The Red Sox reacted quickly by signing Harrelson to a $75,000 bonus, hoping he could help replace Conigliaro.

Harrelson was not Conigliaro, at least in 1967. But he platooned with Jose Tartabull in right field and in the third inning against Carlton, he singled to left to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

Lonborg, meanwhile, was cruising and had allowed just two singles through eight innings. Carlton left after six innings and in the ninth, the Red Sox loaded the bases when George Scott walked, Reggie Smith doubled and Rico Petrocelli was intentionally passed.

That brought up catcher Elston Howard, the veteran catcher who had once been a star for the New York Yankees. He was 38 years old and had just hit .147 for the Red Sox that year. But his veteran presence behind the plate was huge for the Red Sox young pitching staff and he still had one big hit left in him.

Howard blooped a single to right to score one run and a second run came across when Maris overthrew McCarver at home plate. The Red Sox led 3-0 and the Cardinals finally scored off Lonborg when Maris hit a home run off him with two out in the bottom of the ninth

Cepeda then grounded out and the Red Sox were still alive. The World Series was going back to Boston.

"They're going to know they've been in a fight," Yastrzemski said. "You can bet they're thinking about the last two games in Fenway Park."

Other Red Sox talked about being in the same situation as they were the last weekend of the regular season when they had to win two from the Minnesota Twins.

"It's the Minnesota series all over again," Harrelson said.

"We've had our backs to the wall all season and I guess you might say this is the way it should be," second baseman Mike Andrews said. "Things don't come easy for us."

But Dick Williams still had some big pitching decisions to make.

[edit] Game Six: October 11

The Pride of St. Louis

October 11, 1967 at Fenway Park in Boston, MA (Attendance: 35,188) Boxscore
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis Cardinals 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 4 8 0
Boston Red Sox 0 1 0 3 0 0 4 0 x 8 12 1
Win: John Wyatt (1-0) Loss: Jack Lamabe (0-1) Save Gary Bell (1)
Home Runs: Rico Petrocelli, BOS (2); Carl Yastrzemski, BOS; Reggie Smith, BOS; Lou Brock, STL

Gary Waslewski, who in his lifetime had battled rheumatic fever, a collapsed lung and a heart murmur, had pitched in just 12 games for the Red Sox during the regular season. He was also a late addition to the World Series roster when Darrell Brandon came down with a sore arm.

But when he pitched three perfect innings against the Red Sox in Game 3, Williams made a decision.

"I told him he had earned the right to start in Game 6," Williams said.

His opponent would be Dick Hughes, a 29-year-old rookie who had won 16 games for the Cardinals. One year later, a sore arm would end his career.

On this afternoon, Waslewski would out-pitch him in maybe the best game of the Series, one that rocked back and forth before a sellout crowd of 35,188 fans at Fenway Park.

Rico Petrocelli gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with a second inning home run. In the third, Brock struck again with an RBI single, then stole second and scored on Curt Flood's single to left, just beating Yastrzemski's throw with a great slide at the plate.

But the Red Sox roared back in the fourth. Yastrzemski tied it with a home run and then Smith and Petrocelli went back-to-back with home runs that gave the Red Sox a 4-2 lead. It was the first time a team had hit three home runs in one inning in a World Series game.

Brock though wasn't done. Waslewski allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings before John Wyatt took over and in the seventh inning, Brock hit a two-run home run to tie the score.

The game didn't stay tied. With 35,188 fans screamming in delight, the Red Sox staged their biggest rally of the Series, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh. Schoendienst used four pitchers in the inning and eight on the afternoon, tying a World Series record.

It did no good. Yastrzemski had three more hits, the Red Sox won 8-4 and the World Series was going to Game 7.

It wouldn't be a fair fight.

[edit] Game Seven: October 12

October 12, 1967 at Fenway Park in Boston, MA (Attendance: 35,188) Boxscore
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis Cardinals 0 0 2 0 2 3 0 0 0 7 10 1
Boston Red Sox 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 3 1
Win: Bob Gibson (3-0) Loss: Jim Lonborg (2-1)
Home Runs: Bob Gibson, STL; Julian Javier, STL

The Cardinals had won 101 games during the regular season and finished 10 1/2 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants. In winning by such a big margin, the Cardinals' reward was to have their pitching staff set for the World Series and Bob Gibson was able to start three games on normal rest.

The Red Sox, having gone down to the final day, did not have that luxury. Lonborg had to wait to pitch Game 2 and Game 5. To pitch Game 7, he would have to pitch on two days' rest.

Williams didn't see a choice.

"I'll be damned if I lose a Game Seven with anybody but my ace," Williams said.

Schoendienst wasn't facing such a dilemna and didn't even bother holding a clubhouse meeting before the final game.

"I had Gibson," Schoendienst said. "I just gave the ball to Gibson."

There was nothing else to do and a classic pitching duel never materialized. In the end, the 1967 World Series belonged to Bob Gibson and Lou Brock.

Brock started off the game with a line drive to left where Yastrzemski made a terrific catch just off the shoe-tops. But it was only a matter of time.

The Cardinals got to Lonborg in the third when Dal Maxvil led off with a triple to right. Gibson, a good-hitting pitcher, lined to third and Brock popped to short. But Flood singled home Maxvil, went to third on a single by Maris and scored on a wild pitch.

In the fifth, Gibson hit a home run with one out. Brock then singled to left, stole two bases and scored on Maris' sacrifice fly. The Cardinals were ahead 4-0 and, on the mound, Gibson was at his best.

He had walked Joe Foy to lead off the game, then retired 12 straight hitters. In the fifth, George Scott hit a triple off the center field wall and scored when Julian Javier's throw went into the dugout. But the Red Sox would not get another hit until the eighth inning.

By then it was over. Tim McCarver, who was just 3-for-24 in the Series, doubled to start the sixth and Shannon reached on an error by third baseman Foy. That left runners at first and second for Javier, who had hit a career-high 14 home runs during the regular season.

Williams went to the mound to take out Lonborg. But Lonborg asked to stay and Williams let him, expecting the Cardinals to bunt. Javier did not.

Instead he hit one over the Green Monster in left field for a three-run home run that pretty much decided the Series.

The Red Sox scored one more in the eighth after Rico Petrocelli led off with a double but that was it. In the ninth, Brock walked and stole one more base, setting a new World Series record with seven stolen bases.

Gibson then finished the Red Sox off with a three-hitter and the Cardinals claimed the eighth World Series championship in franchise history with a 7-2 victoy. Afterward, the Red Sox marveled at the Cardinals ace pitcher.

"The thing is, he'll never give in," Scott said. "He'll always challenge you. He'll throw the ball across the plate with something on it and say, 'there it is, see if you can hit it.'"

"Give all the credit to Gibson," Williams said. "He's a great pitcher."

But Yastrzemski said, "St. Louis is a great ballclub and so are we. I think if we had another seven-game series it would go down to who had the most rest – Gibson or Lonborg. I'm sorry Lonborg didn't have it this time."

Gibson, 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA, was named the Most Valuable Player. He had pitched three complete games, allowed just 14 hits and five walks while striking out 26.

"Sixty-seven was his stage," Briles said. "He had the worldwide opportunity to display all he was and all that he had. In '67, that's exactly what it was for Bob Gibson."

Brock would have been just as deserving. He finished the Series with a .414 average (12-for-29) with eight runs scored and, with the exception of Lonborg, had completely intimidated the Red Sox pitching staff.

But even he agreed that Gibson deserved the award.

"Look at what he did," Brock said. "He's the money pitcher. If you want one game and you want it worse than anything – in other words, if you want the last game of the World Series, you go to Gibbie before you go to anybody else. That's why he deserved the award."

Brock once said, "Baserunning arrogance is just like pitching arrogance or hitting arrogance. You are a force and you have to instill that you are a force to the opposition. You have to have utter confidence."

Brock and Gibson ultimately had that in the 1967 World Series.


[edit] Further Reading

  • Doug Feldmann: El Birdos: The 1967 and 1968 St. Louis Cardinals, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007.
  • Bill Nowlin and Dan Desrochers, ed.: The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox: Pandemonium on the Field, Rounder Books, Burlington, MA, 2007.
  • Rico Petrocelli and Chaz Scroggins: Rico Petrocelli's Tales from the Impossible Dream Red Sox, Sports Publishing LLC, Champaign, Il, 2007.


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