Posts Tagged ‘1960 World Series’

The Loser Wins

June 23, 2011

Bobby Richardson

For a long time baseball had no World series MVP. It seems the people in charge thought that fans were bright enough to figure out who did the best job in the Series. You had the advantage of being able to watch or listen or read accounts of the games and make your own choice as to who you thought was the MVP of a particular World Series. All that changed in 1955 when MLB decided to pick a Series MVP. Johnny Podres of Brooklyn won the first. Of course fans can still argue among themselves if the “experts” got it right, but there is now an official MVP. They have a lot in common, those MVPs, but being on the winning team isn’t one of them. The 1960 MVP played for the losers.

The 1960 World Series is primarily noted for Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski’s World Series winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth in game seven. But Maz wasn’t the MVP. Neither was anyone else on the Pirates. The winner was Bobby Richardson, the other second baseman.

Richardson came to New York in 1955, and by 1957 was taking over as the regular Yankees second baseman. He hit in the mid-.200s, had no power, could run a little, but didn’t steal many bases with the power-laden lineup around him. He was a good enough second baseman, but not really stellar. Later in his career he improved and won several Gold Gloves.

 By 1959 he was the everyday second sacker and had moved into the seventh or eighth position in the order. His average improved and his OBP finally got to .300. He didn’t strikeout much (which is good), but didn’t walk much either (not so good).  In 1960 he hit .252 (his career average is .266), had 115 hits and 35 walks, and scored all of 45 runs. His OBP was .303. So far he was a run-of-the-mill middle infielder who hit low in the order most of the time.

The 1960 World Series was his coming out party. He exploded against Pirates pitching. He hit .367, slugged .667, had an OBP of .387, for an OPS of 1.054. He had a home run in game three, scored eight runs in five of the seven games (missing four and five), had two doubles and two triples, and led both teams with 12 RBIs (a record for the Series). By game seven he was  leading off for New York, and would continue to do so for much of the rest of his career. His stats are MVP numbers, but Mazeroski hit the home run and the Pirates won game seven and you gave the MVP to a winning player. They gave Richardson the MVP anyway. It’s still the only time a player on the losing team has won the World Series MVP (it’s happened a couple of times in the earlier rounds of the playoffs, but not in the Series.).

Richardson went on to have a solid career with New York, retiring in 1966. For his career he had an OBP of .299 (which is terrible for a leadoff man), slugged all of  .335, and ended up with an OPS of .634 (OPS+ of 77). He scored 643 runs in 1412 games. Not great numbers, but a  solid career. He went on to coach some in college. But he’s always going to be known for one World Series and one bit of trivia. I guess that’s not bad for a  player.