FanPost

Bob Gibson and the 1964 World Series

[Ed. Note: You had me at 21" black & white RCA. -azruavatar]

This post is for those that have a keen interest in the history and the heritage of the St.Louis Cardinals and to offer an opportunity to live (or relive) a moment from the majestic past of the Redbirds and to better appreciate just how great a competitor Bob Gibson, (Cardinal HOF, who is still often mentioned on this site) really was. Those of us who have followed Cardinal baseball through the Pujols era have certainly been fortunate enough to witness two of the greatest World Series wins in baseball history but that being said, It is hard to imagine anything topping 2011 but 1964 might have been just as good. Below, I will post a link where you can listen (or you can download if you prefer) the NBC radio broadcast of the seventh game of the 64 World Series, but before you do, permit me to recap a bit of first 6 games that precede this deciding game.

Also let me state that I think I watched every pitch and play of this game on an old black and white 21 inch RCA TV. (we did not have living color in those days) and I watched close to every play of the whole series because I had waited 18 years, since 1946, to see the Cards in the WS again and the only thing that put a damper on my excitement was that Stan Musial had missed it by one year but that is another story.Anyway, back to setting up a brief but hopefully adequate description of the events that made possible this 7th game.

Game 1 was played in St. Louis and was started by Ray Sadecki, a lefthander who lived with control problems his whole career with the Cards. Sadecki could be very good or very bad but on this day he was just good enough, holding the Yankees to 4 runs over seven innings and the Cardinals meanwhile had little trouble solving Yankee ace, Whitey Ford. The Cards won the first game handily 9 to 5. They hit well throughout the lineup and rookie right fielder Mike Shannon provided the big blows with a 2 run single for an early lead and then put the game away with a 2 run homer in the bottom of the 6th. The Cards were off and running, winning big 9 to 5.

Game 2 was started by Bob Gibson. Gibson did not start game 1 because he had pitched 2 complete games in the final week of the season and had lost the last one with a hard luck 1 to 0 loss to the Mets in a Friday night game on a scratch hit by Met first baseman Ed Kranepool. Johnny Keane wanted to give both Sadecki and Gibson 4 days rest to start the Series, so hence, Sadecki inherited the game one start. Gibson pitched well enough but lost this game also. He gave up 4 runs on 8 hits and struck out 9 in 8 innings pitched. Trailing 2 to 1 through 6, Gibson gave up a 2 run 7th inning double to Mickey Mantle, who plagued Cardinal pitching the whole Series and that was enough for the loss. Barney Shultz and the bullpen suffered a 9th inning meltdown, giving up 4 more runs and the Cards ended up losing 8 to 3.The momentum shifted as the Series moved to NY tied at one.

Game 3, The first game in NY was a pitching duel between Jim Bouton (NY) and Curt Simmons (St.L).Simmons allowed a run in the 3rd. Bouton allowed a run in the 6th. Simmons left after 8 with the score tied. Barney Shultz relieved Simmons to pitch the 9th and was greeted with a home run by Mickey Mantle. Game over, enough said.

Game 4, Cardinals 4 Yankees 3 This Sunday game was the gut wrencher. The Cardinals were down 2 games to 1 to the mighty Yankees and the Yanks jumped on starter Ray Sadecki in the first inning like a horny Bull on a heifer in heat (no offense MooCow). They scored 3 runs before even making an out and still had the bases loaded when Johnny Keane strolled out slowly to the mound and after a long conference signaled to the bullpen for Roger Craig. A veteran occasional starter and long reliever, who was warming up like a maniac in the pen. It was then that the GOBS looked down and decided to have a little fun with this contest and first miracle happened. Craig was magic, had every pitch in his arsenal working and came in and set the Yankees down in order with nastiest variety of breaking pitches I had ever seen. He threw slow curves, he threw slower curves and he threw hard curves (what you would call sliders today, but they did not call them sliders back then unless they were over 92 MPH and were thrown by Bob Gibson). Craig carved up Yankee hitters for 5 innings and then the GOB stepped up again.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the top of the 6th and good old reliable Ken Boyer hit one out of the park for a grand slam and the Cards were suddenly in the lead 4 to 3. The GOB were still not through with their fun and games though as Ron Taylor, a journeyman pitcher who the Cards had picked up to shore up the bullpen, relieved Craig to start the 7th (while I screamed my disapproval at the TV) and to my amazement did his best Roger Craig imitation for the final 3 innings shutting down the Yankee without a hit. The Yankees managed only one other hit after their first inning outburst (a 4th inning single by Clete Boyer, off Craig) and the Cardinals evened the Series 2 games to 2. Amazing Game, GOB 4 Yankees 3.

Game 5, Last game in NY. Cardinals get a break, Yankee ace Whitey Ford was suffering from a little elbow stiffness and would be held back to pitch either game 6 or 7 in St Louis. Bob Gibson took the mound again for the Cards with only 3 days rest. The game was another Pitching duel between Mel Stottlemeyer (also 3days rest) and Gibson, but in the 6th the Cards took a 2 nothing lead on consecutive singles by Lou Brock and Bill White. That lead held until the bottom of the 9th when with 2 outs, Dick Groat made an error on a ground ball to SS by Joe Pepitone, Yankee first baseman and Tom Tresh followed with a home run to right center and suddenly the game was tied and the shutout gone. Gibson got the next batter and the game went into extra innings tied. That did not last long though as with one out in the 10th Boyer got a hit, Groat made up for his error with a hit bringing up a young catcher with a flair for the dramatic by the name of Tim Mc Carver and Mc Carver put it out of the park for a 5 to 2 lead. Gibson, not to be denied a complete game victory, came back out and shut the Yanks down in the bottom of 10th. Bottom line: 10 innings pitched, 0 earned runs allowed and 13 strike outs. It was a masterful effort by Gibson and the Cardinal left NYC fans in shock and headed back to St. Louis with a 3 to 2 Series lead. I was overjoyed.

Game 6. What can you say, The Cards just lost it, though they did lead 1 to 0 for four innings off of a first inning run by McCarver but the Yankees tied it in the 5th with a run and scored 2 more in the 6th on consecutive home runs by Mantle and Maris. Curt Simmons, the starter pitched into the 7th, giving way to Ron Taylor with one out after giving up a single to Clete Boyer. Simmons pitched well enough in this Series with nothing to show for it but he was in the twilight of his career and simply was not a 9 inning pitcher anymore. Taylor held the Yankees at bay through the 8th and Barney Shultz, the knuckle balling closer came in to pitch the 9th and to keep it 3 to 1 Yanks. Poor Barney Shultz, the Yankees jumped on him every time he pitched. I cannot remember if he even got anybody out. Before you could say squat, the Yanks had scored 5 runs climaxed by a Joe Pepitone grand slam home run. The Cards added a run in the bottom of the 9th.to little avail. Final: Yankees 8 Cardinals 3.

The powerful Bronx Bombers were not going to fold up and go away. Things did not look too rosy for the upstart St. Louis Cardinals, the Nation Press surmised. Whitey Ford was set for game 7 for the Yanks while the Cardinals were looking for a volunteer. Gallant effort, but no way to stop the Yankees now was the general opinion; not as hot as Mantle was. It did look bleak but there was a bit of good news when I heard Yogi Bera announce in a news conference on KMOX the night before the game that Ford was still feeling a little tightness and soreness in his elbow and would not start game 7. Instead he would go with Mel Stottlemeyer, who had faced Gibson in game 5. The plan was to hopefully squeeze four innings out of Sttotlemeyer before turning the game over to the bullpen. Keane countered by announcing that Bob Gibson in turn would start for the Cards and go as long as he could. In effect it would be a bullpen game for both clubs but the Yanks had the slight advantage.

Both clubs would be starting pitchers on 2 days rest but Stottlemeyer would be coming off a 7 inning outing while Gibson would be coming off 10 inning last outing. It would be a test of will and endurance for sure. I was scared and I did not like this at all. Gibson had been over used and abused in the stretch drive for the pennant and I did not want to see him hurt, after all he was just reaching his prime years and also I hated the thought of seeing him lose.

Game 7 Cardinals win 7 to 5: I will not get into covering any specific details of this game, other than covering a few things that cannot be deciphered from just listening to a radio broadcast. The first being, that if you can take my word for it as an eye witness to the game, Gibson was fogging that ball. He had to be hitting the upper nineties with a number of his pitches and it was amazing how often he seemed to be able just reach back and blow the ball by hitters when he had to, and after pitching 10 innings two days earlier. To me this will always be one Gibson's greatest games although he gave up 5 runs in it I give a lot of credit for heart and this is how he pitched this game, with heart. Gibson was not perfect by any means but how could he be under the conditions he was toiling. He pitched a strong five shutout innings but Bobby Richardson led off the 6th with an infield single to 3rd. Roger Maris singled to right and then Gibson made his first mistake. He left a hanging slider to Mantle and Mantle did not miss it, he creamed it. A long shot to right center, nothing cheap about it. Unfortunately you could not make mistakes to Mickey Mantle, especially when he was hot and hitting left handed. Luckily the Cards had built up a 6 to 0 in through the 5th, featuring home runs by Brock in the 1st and Boyer in the 2nd. Gibson recovered well from the Mantle blast and came back for a strong three innings but you could tell he was laboring to finish the 8th. That was why I was shocked to see him come out for the top of the 9th, especially with a 7 to 3 lead but I guess he wanted to finish what he had started. Gibson was a bit stubborn.

I was somewhat relieved though when he started strong by striking out Tom Tresh, but then Clete Boyer worked him for a long count and ended up hitting a home run to left field about thirty feet from the foul line; no big poke just about a 375 foot big fly. Looking at Gibson, I thought he would cry but he muscled up to strike out pinch hitter Johnny Blanchard for the 2nd out. That left only one hitter, Phil Linz to retire for the win but Linz who was an infielder with not that much power also mustered up a poke right down the left field line about 10 feet fair and it went out, about a 340 foot deep cheap fly. This was when something happened that I will never forget; a very amusing and unusual incident.

After the home run, the umpire handed McCarver a new ball and Tim started wandering slowly toward the mound while looking over at the dugout toward Johnny Keane. By this time you could see by his face that Gibson had become somewhat emotional. He came off the mound toward home plate, toward McCarver and you could tell that Gibson was motioning and screaming for Tim to throw him the ball. McCarver would look toward the dugout and Keane and then look toward Gibson who was coming toward him with so much anger he had tears in his eyes. Keane then started a slow trudge out of the dugout and toward the mound. Finally, when Gibson was within a few feet of him, McCarver tossed him the ball and Gibson returned to the mound and on past the mound for a few feet out toward 2nd base and stood there with his back to McCarver and Keane, staring out toward center field with the ball in his hand. Keane never made it to the mound; he obviously had better thoughts about trying to remove Gibson peacefully and besides he probably did not have the heart to pull him. Whatever. He and McCarver had a short conference between home plate and the mound and then Keane walked slowly back to the dugout. Gibson returned to the mound and retired Bobby Richardson on a popup to the 2nd baseman for the win. Like I said, Gibson was a bit stubborn.

Now for the radio broadcast: The link will take you to a page where you will see an online audio player on the top right of the page. It will contain a window within it, listing the files that can be played. The 1964 WS game is file 13. If you would rather download and play on your computer with windows media or whatever is your preferred player just scroll on down the page. It can be downloaded in the mp3 format and some other format I was not familiar with; thanks for reading. http://www.archive.org/details/baseball_otr

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