Yankees hold off Giants in Game 7 to win 1962 World Series
After six games, 12 days and a cumulative run total that was virtually dead even, the 1962 World Series came down to one at-bat.
When Willie McCovey’s screaming line drive landed in the glove of Bobby Richardson, the Yankees had captured their 20th Fall Classic title. On Oct. 16, 1962, one of the most closely contested World Series in history was decided by the slimmest of margins.
The two teams reached the postseason via completely different routes. The Yankees won their third straight American League pennant by five games over the up-and-coming Twins, riding Mickey Mantle’s Most Valuable Player-performance to the top.
The Giants, however, battled the Dodgers for National League supremacy all season before finding themselves in a dead heat with Los Angeles at the end of the year. The three-game playoff that ensued was the fourth tiebreaker playoff in big league history and the third for the NL.
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In a virtual replay of the 1951 NL tiebreaker series, the Giants took Game 1 before the Dodgers bounced back in Game 2. Then in Game 3, the Dodgers led 4-2 going to the ninth before the Giants scored four times to capture the flag.
In the Fall Classic, the Giants and Yankees split the first six games – with notable events that included Whitey Ford’s record 10th World Series win in Game 1 and Chuck Hiller’s grand slam in Game 4 (the first grand slam by an NL player in World Series history).
Three days of rain in San Francisco delayed Game 6 until Oct. 15, and Billy Pierce’s complete game three-hitter in that contest set up Game 7 the next day.
With Ralph Terry and Jack Sanford facing off on the mound for the third time in the Series, the Yankees scored a run in the fifth inning when Tony Kubek’s double-play grounder scored Moose Skowron. At that point, the Giants had outscored the Yankees over the course of the Series by one run: 21-20.
Terry kept the Giants at bay through eight innings, but allowed a bunt single to Matty Alou to lead of the bottom of the ninth. Terry regrouped to strike out Felipe Alou and Hiller, but then Willie Mays doubled to right field – with only a brilliant throw by Roger Maris holding the speedy Matty Alou at third base.
With McCovey up next and Orlando Cepeda on deck, Yankees manager Ralph Houk had Terry pitch to McCovey with first base open. McCovey lined a ball that looked like a sure base hit before Richardson’s catch put an end to the Giants’ rally.
McCovey, who had tripled against Terry in the seventh inning but was stranded at third base, remembers the at-bat with vivid detail.
“I had a chance to be a big hero if I had gotten a hit and drove in those two runs,” McCovey said. “But it just didn’t happen.”
Terry, who surrendered Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run in the 1960 World Series, was named the World Series MVP. McCovey went on to record 521 home runs in his 22-year big league career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum