On October 10, 1964, one Yankees legend surpassed another, as Mickey Mantle hit his 16th World Series home run to surpass Babe Ruth's longstanding record of 15 Fall Classic blasts. This was not your average home run. It was a walk off solo shot that sent the Cards to the locker room as 2-1 losers, and gave the Bronx Bombers a 2-1 lead in the series.
This game was a classic. The Birds might not have been flying high when it was put in the books, but that does not take anything away from the fact that this one is one that will not be forgotten. The two 18 game winners that faced each other, Jim Bouton and Curt Simmons matched each other pitch for pitch. Simmons was tagged for a run in the second, when Ken Boyer's brother Clete came through with a clutch RBI double.
The Cardinals took advantage of a fifth inning error by Mantle that haunted the Yankee slugger, as the Cardinals pitcher knocked in Tim McCarver with a two out single. With the score knotted at 1-1 the Cardinals had several opportunities to plate a run, but just could not come through with the run. What might be considered the greatest opportunity came in the ninth. McCarver reached on an error, then was sacrificed over to second before Bouton walked Carl Warwick. The Birds were in business, or so it seemed. Desperate to score the go ahead run Johnny Keane pulled the plug on Simmons' day. He sent Bob Skinner to the dish to pinch hit for his hurler, but the move did not pay off. Skinner lifted a Bouton pitch that landed in the mitt of Roger Maris standing in center. It did move McCarver over to third. However, the Cardinals half of the inning would end with Curt Flood lining out to The Mick in left.
Mantle was also going to be the first man up, and the last man to hit in this ballgame. Keane called on one of Game 1's heroes by handing the ball to Barney Schultz. It took Mantle just one swing, which came on the first pitch that Schultz threw his way. That one swing sent the ball more than 400 feet to deep right, where it bounced off the faced of the third deck. Ruth built the house, Mantle made it be known that he was a prominent resident as he rounded the bases as a walk off winner.
As to be expected Schultz's spirit was crushed the moment Mantle crushed that pitch. The pitch he had thrown Mantle was described a knuckle ball that did not knuckle. Every single pitcher that has ever thrown a ball would love to have one of those balls back. A reset button so to speak. However, that is just not how it works. As said in a previous blog in this series: this was battle of heavyweights. Both teams would take their blows. Both teams would win some rounds. The bell had rang with the decision going to the Yankees in this round, but you and I both know the difference 24 hours can make in that great game that is played on a diamond. 24 hours later the momentum would shift.
Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA196410100.shtml