Shutting ’em Down in Game 7: Terry’s Redemption

Ralph Terry

Ralph Terry

Ralph Terry was never Whitey Ford, but he was a good pitcher for the New York Yankees. In 1960 he was 0-1 when he was brought into game seven of the 1960 World Series. There were two outs in the bottom of the eighth and he got out of the inning. Then he made two pitches in the ninth. The second one went over the fence in left field to make Pittsburgh world champs. In 1961, the Yankees won the World Series, losing only one game to Cincinnati. The losing pitcher in that one game? You guessed it, Ralph Terry. In 1962 the Yanks were back in the Series, this time against San Francisco. By game seven Terry was 1-1 and was tasked with winning the final game.

It was Ralph Houk’s second New York pennant winner. He’d taken over as manager from Casey Stengel after the 1960 loss and kept the Yankees winning. It was a very different team from the great 1950s New York squads. Moose Skowron was at first, while Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek covered the center of the diamond and slick fielding Clete Boyer held third. Newcomer Tom Tresh was in left field and one year removed from their great home run race Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were the other two outfielders. Yogi Berra was relegated to the bench while Elston Howard did most of the catching.

He caught an aging pitching staff. Five pitchers, including Ford and closer Marshall Bridges were over 30. Terry was the ace that season going 23-12, and was only 26. Bill Stafford and Jim Bouton were both kids.

After six games and a five-day rain delay, the two teams were tied three-three with the final game in San Francisco. Terry had lost game two, but won game five. The long rain delay allowed him to pitch game seven.

He faced a formidable Giants lineup. Orlando Cepeda was at first, Chuck Hiller at second, Jose Pagan at short, and Jim Davenport at third. The outfield consisted of Felipe Alou, Willie McCovey, and Willie Mays. Harvey Kuenn, Matty Alou, and Manny Mota were available off the bench.

Tom Haller caught a staff of Jack Sanford, who came in second to Don Drysdale in the Cy Young Award voting, Juan Marichal, and lefties Billy O’Dell and Billy Pierce. Sanford, like Terry, was 1-1 in Series play and was tabbed for game seven.

Sanford walked a man in the first but got out of it on a fly out by Mantle. In the top of the third the Yanks put two men on, but again Sanford got out of it, this time on a grounder to second. By the top of the fifth, Terry still hadn’t given up a hit and New York finally found a run. Consecutive singles put men on first and third, then a walk loaded the bases. Kubek then rolled one out to short and Skowron scored as the Giants opted to complete a double play.

In the sixth, Terry finally gave up a hit, but no run. With two outs in the seventh, McCovey tripled, but died at third when Cepeda struck out. With the bases loaded in the eighth, Billy O’Dell relieved Sanford. A force at home and a double play later, the Yanks were still ahead 1-0. Consecutive ground outs and a strikeout brought the Giants to their last three outs. On a bunt single, Matty Alou made first. Then Terry struck out both Felipe Alou and Hiller. Mays doubled sending Matty Alou to third and bringing up McCovey. “Stretch” smoked a liner that Richardson snagged to end the inning, the game, and the Series.

For both teams it was something like an ending. The Giants despite good hitting and decent pitching couldn’t get passed the Dodgers and Cardinals and didn’t get back to a World Series until the 1980s. The Yankees won the next two American League pennants, but they, like the Giants, couldn’t get passed the Dodgers and Cardinals before things collapsed in 1965. They would wait until 1976 to make it back to a World Series.

But for Terry it was a shining moment. He was named Series MVP and much of his reputation for failure in the clutch went away. He had one more good year in New York, then a down year and was traded. He was through in 1967. But his work in game seven of 1962 solidified him as a genuine Yankees hero, at least for one World Series.




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7 Responses to “Shutting ’em Down in Game 7: Terry’s Redemption”

  1. wkkortas Says:

    A few misspent words about the ’60 Series…yes, Ralph gave up the Maz home run, but Casey really screwed up any chance the Yankees had to win in ’60. He let Art Ditmar and Bob Turley–neither of whom were quality big-league pitchers at that time–each start twice, including Turley in Game 7–instead of setting it up where Ford could get three starts. Frankly, the only way the series was an upset was that the Yankees managed to get it to a Game 7.

    • Glen Russell Slater Says:

      You do know your baseball history, W.K. Maybe your father taught it to you, at least the Pittsburgh stuff, being that you come from a Pittsburgh Pirates rooting family. My mother never cared less for the Pirates. I think that frankly if she rooted for any team, she would have rooted for the Indians, being that she had a ton of maternal grandparents in Cleveland and she LOVED the city of Cleveland, absolutely LOVED it, and that ain’t no joke. People always make jokes about Cleveland, but my mother loved it. She loved it much more than Pittsburgh, and they actually went to Cleveland much more often, because they didn’t have any relatives in Cleveland. My grandpa was from Conway in Beaver County and then moved to Ambridge, also in Beaver County, and that’s that. He never lived anywhere else except that he was born in Lithuania and his family moved to America when he was only about four or five at the most. So he had very sketchy memories of Lithuania. My mother’s aunts and uncles and grandparents and nephews and nieces and aunts and uncles all lived in the same tiny house. They all lived in a modest little two-family house in inner city Cleveland, not far from where League Park used to be. And they had a party line; my mother got a kick out of that.I always wanted to come from a big family; you never got lonely. I had a sister whose a great sister, and that’s all. And my sister only had her brother, who was seven years older than him and very mean to her while she was growing up, so I guess she wished she had sisters and lots of relatives. It would be like The Waltons, having so much love and so many brothers and sisters. I always wished I came from a big family. There was so much love going around, they didn’t even notice they were poor.

      And my Uncle Ralph was too busy playing hookey and going to Pittsburgh to box at a boxing gym. I don’t think that he was much of a Pirates fan, either. My grandfather was a moderate Pirate fan; he was offered free tickets to go to the brand new Three Rivers Stadium for the National League playoffs in either 1970 or 1971, but he didn’t want ’em, because he heard that the seats were astronomically high and the players looked like little dots at Three Rivers. My grandfather never DID got to Three Rivers Stadium. He had liked Forbes Field. I guess he was like me; he had a hard time adjusting to change. I’ll take Shea Stadium any day over what they’ve got now, thank you.

      A little funny thing here. My mother told me that her grandfather, who I never met, became very religious and quit working, devoting his life to just two things, and that was studying the Torah and watching the Indians games on television. No wonder no money was coming in. I wonder who WAS working in that household, because SOMEBODY had to have been. So my great-grandfather on my mother’s side devoted the rest of his life to going to Shul, studying the Torah and the Talmud too, I guess, and rooting for them Injuns. My mom says that my great-grandfather’s favorite player was Al Rosen. (Naturally.)


  2. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    Oh, and my mother HATED going to Conway, W.K., to visit her relatives there. That was the only place she ever went as a kid—- to tend the counter at my grandfather’s grocery store, to Cleveland, and once in a while to Pittsburgh, but once a week she always had to go to Conway—- and she DREADED it! Conway is a teeny tiny railroad town about ten miles north on Ohio River Boulevard. Do you know that area, W.K.?


    PS I’m certainly not ignoring you, V, not on your own blog! Nice writeup! Gee, that Billy Pierce was around a long time, wasn’t he? Didn’t realize he pitched for the Giants. I always think of him as a White Sock, which is what Bill James talks about. His versatility, that’s what James talks about. Could start, then go in relief the next day, stuff like that. Very durable and underrated.


  3. wkkortas Says:

    Actually, I do know that end of the Pittsburgh metro a litle–my brother was married in Ambridge, and he lived in the whole Sewickley/Ben Avon/Emsworth area for quite a while, so…a little down river toward the city, but the general neighborhood.

    • glenrussellslater Says:

      What church was he married in? My mom knows all the churches in Ambridge—- All 731 of ’em!


  4. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    What church was he married in, W.K?


  5. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    And then Bill Terry ended his career pitching for the Mets, didn’t he?


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