Thursday, March 03, 2011

#138 World Series Game Seven: Gibson Wins Finale

#138 1964 World Series Game Seven
Hey, Bob Gibson’s back again! After going the distance in a 10-inning, 13-strikeout win in Game 5, the Cardinals ace sat by and watched the Yankees take the next game, 8-3. That set the stage for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Thursday, October 15 at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium in front of 30,646 fans.

The pitching matchup was a reprise of Games 2 and 5, with Gibson and Mel Stottlemyre both coming back on two days’ rest. The contest began much like the last meeting between these two pitchers, with neither permitting a run through the first three innings. The Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but unfortunately had gone through the lineup. Stottlemyre struck out to blunt the threat.

St. Louis broke out on top in the home half of the fourth in unconventional fashion. Ken Boyer and Dick Groat reached with nobody out, and Tim McCarver hit a grounder to first baseman Joe Pepitone. Pep fired to shortstop Phil Linz to force Groat at second base, but Linz’s return throw to first was wild. McCarver was safe at first, and Boyer scored on the error. Mike Shannon singled to put runners on the corners, and the Cards executed a double steal with their catcher sliding home safely for run number two. Light-hitting shortstop Dal Maxvill delivered an RBI single to make it 3-0 before Stottlemyre rallied to retire Gibson and Curt Flood. The Yankee starter’s day was done, though.

The Redbirds broke it open in the next inning. Al Downing relieved Stottlemyre and failed to retire a batter. Lou Brock greeted him with a home run to right-center field, and consecutive hits by Bill White and Boyer put two runners in scoring position. Rollie Sheldon retired the next three hitters, but Groat and McCarver’s productive outs plated both runners and the National League champs had a 6-0 lead after five innings with a fiercely competitive 19-game winner on the hill.

In the span of three batters, New York rebounded and chopped the deficit in half. The sixth inning began with singles by Bobby Richardson and Roger Maris, and Mickey Mantle crushed a three-run homer to left-center field. It was the legendary slugger’s third home run of the Series, and the 18th and final postseason home run of his storied career. Gibson recovered and kept it at 6-3. Ken Boyer gave St. Louis some more breathing room by pulling a solo home run to left field against Steve Hamilton in the bottom of the seventh. That made it 7-3, and it stayed that way through the eighth as well.

Trying for his second straight complete game, Gibson came right after the Yankee hitters in the top of the ninth. He struck out Tom Tresh, then surrendered a solo homer to Ken Boyer’s younger brother Clete. The sequence repeated, as a Johnny Blanchard strikeout (Gibson’s ninth of the game and 31st of the Series) was followed by a Phil Linz round-tripper. Now it was a two-run game, but the Cards’ hurler quickly ended the drama, the game, and the World Series by inducing a Bobby Richardson pop fly to Dal Maxvill. Cardinals 7, Yankees 5.

The home crowd jumped for joy (presumably), and the players, coaches, and other team personnel spilled out of the dugout to celebrate the franchise’s first World Championship since 1946. Gibson was named the Series MVP for holding the Yanks to 11 runs (9 earned) in 27 innings. Though St. Louis would return to the Fall Classic in 1967 (beating Boston) and 1968 (losing to Detroit), it was the end of an era for the Bronx Bombers. They fired Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra as their manager, replacing him with Johnny Keane, the man who had bested him in the Series. Aging and retiring stars, flopped prospects, and mismanagement conspired to keep the Yankees for the next 11 years, practically a lifetime for that bombastic club.
#138 1964 World Series Game Seven (Back)


  1. A great series--could you imagine in todays game a pitcher coming back on 2 days rest, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits and a manager leaving him in to complete the game? There was a more "heavyweight match" aura to the game then... then again, is not that the way Grady Little lost his job some years back?

  2. Anon - Aside from Dusty Baker, there aren't many managers with that long a leash these days.

    But can you imagine trying to pull Gibson from that game?

  3. The difference between Pedro Martinez and Bob Gibson is that Gibson was younger and more used to pitching late in games. And he was never really seriously threatened with losing the lead.

  4. Marc - Very true. Also, Gibson was pitching at home and Pedro was in hostile Yankee Stadium.