Story of the Week
The 1951 National League pennant race featured a great comeback by one team, the Giants, over another team, the Dodgers. But that was a two-team dogfight. The feature story this week is about a four-team battle right down to the last weekend of the 1964 season in the National League. It’s about the 1964 World Series. And it surely didn’t stop there.
The Phillies led the National League by 6˝ games with two weeks to go. Philadelphia then managed to lose ten straight games to literally hand the pennant to the Cardinals.
In the final weekend, first San Francisco and then Cincinnati, were eliminated. Needing to win only one of three games from the lowly New York Mets (the latter christened their brand new park, Shea Stadium, by losing 109 games), the Cardinals seemingly tried to give the pennant to Philadelphia by losing the first two games of the weekend series to the Mets. And they found themselves trailing in the Sunday game, but rallied to win the game and the pennant. By winning that game, St. Louis avoided a playoff with Philadelphia.
St. Louis was led by league MVP and third baseman, Ken Boyer, who led the league with 119 RBI’s, and Lou Brock, a mid-season pick-up the Chicago Cubs would like to forget, who finished second in the league in stolen bases.
The World Series matched the Cardinals and the New York Yankees. Though they outslugged and outpitched their rivals, the Yankees lost the series in seven games. The great Bob Gibson won two of three games, including game seven, while Yankee ace Whitey Ford was hit hard rather uncharacteristically in game one, and did not appear again in the series. The main ingredient to success for St. Louis was timely pitching by Gibson, and clutch power-hitting by Boyer and Tim McCarver.
Wait! There’s more! Yogi Berra thought he had done a good job in managing the Yankees. Though he had lost his ace pitcher, Ford, in the first game of the World Series, he felt he did well in patching an aging team. But General Manager Ralph Houk had decided in mid-season to replace Berra at the end of the year. And he did.
Meanwhile, in St. Louis, the Cardinals called a press conference after the World Series. Team owner Gussie Busch planned to announce that he was rehiring team manager Johnny Keane. When he got there, Keane handed Busch an envelope. In the envelope was Keane’s resignation.
So, at the conclusion of the 1964 season, Berra was fired as manager of the Yankees, and Keane resigned as manager of the Cardinals. Why did Keane resign as manager of the Cardinals? He resigned to become the new manager of the New York Yankees.
1964 was an absolutely wild baseball season.
Last Week’s Trivia
Who are the only two men to play for the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants and Mets? Darryl Strawberry and Jose Vizcaino made the past and present New York connection.
Trivia Question of the Week
What former all-pro tight end of the St. Louis Football Cardinals dropped a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Roger Staubach of the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII, conceivably costing Dallas the game? He had been a great player, and it’s sad that he’ll be remembered for that play. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.