Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 12, 1967: Gibson and The Birds Take The Title

On October 12, 1967, at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the Cardinals clinched their 8th World Series title with a 7-2 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the Fall Classic. The Birds won the game behind a masterful performance by Bob Gibson who allowed just three hits and hit a home run in the contest. Gibson was a true warrior throughout the series, he was the winning pitcher in Game 1, Game 3, and the title clinching Game 7 battle. After splitting the first two games the Cardinals won games 3 and 4 to give them a 3 games to 1 edge in the series only to have the resilient Red Sox club take games 5 and 6 to force the Game 7 in Boston. The skipper of the Red Sox, Dick Williams decided to send Jim Lonborg to the mound on just two days rest, while Gibby was had an extra day of rest. Lonborg got tagged for all 7 of the Redbird runs through 6 innings of work, although one of those runs was unearned. The Cardinals began their scoring in the third after shortstop Dal Maxvill led the inning off with a triple. Lonborg picked up two outs before Curt Flood smacked a single into center that put the club up 1-0. Roger Maris moved  Flood over to third with a single then with Orlando Cepeda at the dish Lonborg threw a wild pitch that brought the Cardinals center fielder into score the second run of the inning. With the score still 2-0 Birds in the fifth, Gibby took Lonborg deep to push the lead to 3-0. Lou Brock followed Gibson with a single then stole second and third base before Roger Maris knocked him in with a sacrifice fly to right. The Birds were in control of this one, however, the Red Sox weren't going to go down without some semblance of a fight. In the bottom of the fifth, Gibson gave up one of those three hits to George Scott. The Red Sox first baseman hit a lead off triple in the inning then scored when Julian Javier threw the ball away in an attempt to gun him down. With the score 4-1 heading into the sixth, Javier made up for his throwing error with a 3 run shot over the Green Monster to open up a 7-1 lead. The dream of a World Series title was fading quickly with the dominant Gibson on the hill, he did allow the second Boston run of the ballgame in the eighth but he maintained his composure and got out of the inning with minimal damage. Brock stole his record setting third base of the game in the top of the ninth, it was not only a single game record it was his seventh of the series which was also a record. In the bottom of the ninth, Carl Yastrzemski led the inning off with a single, this led to a visit by the Redbird skipper Red Schoendienst who simply said a few words to his stud pitcher before letting him finish the job. Ken Harrleson erased Yaz with a double play and Gibson needed one more out to clinch the series. He finished the ballgame off with a strikeout of George Scott. While there were many heroes throughout this series none shined brighter than Bob Gibson. His dominance earned him MVP honors and he was presented with a brand new car for the second time in four seasons, he won the car after the '64 championship as well. With the series in Boston the bars in and around St. Louis were packed with Cardinals fans, when Gibson struck out Scott to finish off the ballgame, the downtown area erupted in man made snow as an avalanche of paper came out of the office building in the city. One woman said "I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life" as she watched the paper fall from the skies above. It was a thrilling finish for the Cardinals that once again were World Champions.

Check out the box score:

A couple little sidenotes; The '67 Cardinals club won 101 games and took the National League pennant by 10 1/2 games over the San Francisco Giants. They were a club full of stars like, Brock, Cepeda, Maris, McCarver, and Gibson. The road to a 101 wins was not a road that was easily traveled, they had to overcome a devastating injury to Gibson that had him sidelined for a good part of the year, which simply led to other men on the club stepping up in his absence. When Gibson returned he was the same dominant pitcher he was before the injury and you never know without the injury things could have went a whole different way for the Series MVP.

On the flip side, the Red Sox had a season that was dubbed "The Impossible Dream" they were led by Yastrzemski and Lonborg and they posted their first winning season since 1946. Going into the last week of the regular season the Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, and White Sox were all within a game of each other in the standings. The White Sox lost their last 5 games of the season to fall out of contention, while the Red Sox and the Twins  met in the final two games of the season. With Minnesota up by a game before the two teams met, the Red Sox swept them but still had to wait on the results of a doubleheader between the Tigers and the Angels in Detroit, after the Tigers split that bill Boston was crowned the Champions of the American League. Much like in 1946, they would meet and get beat by the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

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