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 1927. 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-plus home run hitters 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 sixth inning of Game 4 due to an injured ankle. Ford set the record for consecutive scoreless innings during World Series play with thirty-three and a third (33.1), when, during the third inning he passed the previous record holder, Babe Ruth, who had pitched twenty-nine and two-thirds (29.2) consecutive scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox in and .
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.
This was the shortest (by number of games) World Series since , which had ended in a 4-game sweep - all World Series after that (and until this one) went at least six games, with all but one series going to the maximum seven games.
|1||Cincinnati Reds - 0, New York Yankees - 2||October 4||Yankee Stadium||62,397|
|2||Cincinnati Reds - 6, New York Yankees - 2||October 5||Yankee Stadium||63,083|
|3||New York Yankees - 3, Cincinnati Reds - 2||October 7||Crosley Field||32,589|
|4||New York Yankees - 7, Cincinnati Reds - 0||October 8||Crosley Field||32,589|
|5||New York Yankees - 13, Cincinnati Reds - 5||October 9||Crosley Field||32,589|
At Yankee Stadium, Whitey Ford established himself as the premier post-season pitcher by tossing his third straight World Series shutout in game one 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 six 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 eighth 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.
The Reds came charging back on superb pitching by Joey Jay to win game two and even the series at one-game apiece. First baseman Gordy Coleman and left-fielder Yogi Berra traded two-run homers in the fourth. 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 by pinch-hitter Hector Lopez.
Luis Arroyo took over in the eighth and subsequently walked Robinson, gave up an infield single to Coleman on a roller between third and the mound and then threw wild 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 3-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.
The friendly confines of Crosley Field in Cincinnati would favor the visiting Yankees as they would have little trouble sweeping the 3-game set, reclaiming their title with their nineteenth Championship trophy.
Game three 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 brilliantly 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 third 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 groundout would send 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. Bud Daley would come in to relieve Stafford and retire Pinson on a flyout 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), would smack 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 would both ground 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, would ground to short, Cardenas holding. The third pinch-hitter in the inning, Gus Bell, would dash 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.
Whitey Ford started game four for the Yankees in an attempt to continue his post-season shutout streak, but more importantly to give the 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 third, he broke Babe Ruth's record of 29.2 consecutive scoreless innings with his string now at 30. "The Chairman" would remain in the game until the end of the fifth when an apparent ankle injury forced him out of the game - leaving with a new record of 32 straight shutout innings. Jim Coates would enter the game in the 6th and pitch shutout ball of his own for the remainder of the game.
In the meantime, the Yankees were having no problems scoring against the Reds. In the fourth, 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 of his right hip, Mantle left the game and was replaced by pinch-runner Hector Lopez. Elston Howard would ground into a double-play but Maris would score the game's first run. The Yanks would add 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 would take over for the left-handed O'Toole and proceed to load the bases. With one out, Howard would double 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 would add three more runs in the 7th capped by Moose Skowron's third hit of the game. The Reds could only muster 5 hits total against winner Whitey Ford and reliever Coates, who earned a much deserved 4-inning save. With two embarrassing losses in front of their home crowd, the Reds had one more chance at home to continue the Series but the Yankees had another title in their sights.
Future Hall-of-Famers, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle sat out game five 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 more than made up for the absence of the two stars. Lopez drove in five runs with a triple and a home run, and Blanchard's three hits included a double and a homer.
The Yankees wasted no time in manufacturing five first inning runs. Before it was over, Red manager Fred Hutchinson would march eight pitchers to and from the mound in many attempts to stifle the Yankee bats.
Red's 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 flyball outs. But the proverbial "flood-gates" would open when the next batter, Blanchard, would 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 after 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 Red's players would send false hope to their fans when they came to life in the bottom of the third 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 sac-fly moving Blasingame to third. Frank Robinson then took Terry deep with a 3-run shot over the right-center field fence. Taking no chances, manager Ralph Houk replaced Terry with Bud 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 2-run single by Skowron and a 3-run home run to dead center by Lopez. But once again the Reds tried to come back, and after scoring two runs in the bottom of the 5th (on a 2-run Wally Post home run), still found themselves down 11-5. For good measure, the New Yorkers would add 2 more runs in the 6th on sacrifices by Lopez (on a squeeze play) and (on 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 came through for rookie manager Houk, who became only the third skipper in history to win the World Series in his freshman year.