Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12, 1964: McCarver's Tenth Inning Blast Gives The Birds a 3-2 Edge In The Fall Classic

     On October 12, 1964, Tim McCarver's three run home run in the 10th inning proved to be the difference maker in a 5-2 Cardinals win over the Yankees in Game 5 of the Fall Classic in New York. A crowd of 65,633  witnessed the game that pushed the Yankees against the wall, as the Cardinals headed back home with a 3-2 edge in the series. They would have two chances to take the cake in front of the fans in St. Louis, and that cake would be theirs.

      Coming into Game 5 the Cardinals had their hands full with a hero of Game 2 with Mel Stottlemyre on the bump. However, Bob Gibson countered the Yankee hurler, and turned in a 13 strikeout performance, as he helped lead the Birds to victory. The two hurlers were locked in a dual until the fifth when Gibby helped his own cause by picking up a one out single. Curt Flood followed it up by reaching base on an error by Bobby Richardson. It was the second day in a row that the Yankees second baseman had committed an error, and once again it would haunt him. Lou Brock followed with an RBI single that brought Gibby trotting in, then Bill White knocked in Curt Flood for the unearned run of the inning. Stottelmyre set Ken Boyer down with a ground out to the end the frame, but the damage had been done. The Cardinals were up 2-0 and Gibby was dealing.

     Stottlemyre put the bad inning past him, and worked through a scoreless sixth and seventh. He was lifted in the bottom of the seventh for a pinch hitter by the name of Hector Lopez. The Yankees skipper Yogi Berra was hoping the pinch hitter could get to Gibson.... Gibson had other things in mind as he made Lopez his 11th strikeout victim of the day. The day looked like it belonged to the Cardinals pitcher. However, the tide did turn in the ninth. Mickey Mantle opened up the inning with a hotshot to Dick Groat who could not get a handle on it. The Cardinals shortstop said he knew something bad would happen almost instantly, as every error in the series had ended up with runs on the board. It seems that Gibby did not have that mindset. He went back to work, and struck out the Yankees catcher Elston Howard for the first out of the frame.

     The first out was followed with what has to be considered the finest defensive play of the game, as Joe Pepitone hit one right back at Gibby where it bounced off of his hip and rolled toward third. The future Hall of Famer had the presence of mind to snag the ball quickly and fire an off balance throw to Bill White at first to record the second out. The next man up was left fielder Tom Tresh, and he tied the ballgame up with one swing of the stick. If Gibson would have not made that previous play the series would be headed back to St. Louis with a 3-2 Yankees lead.

     While there had to be some level of disappointment on the Cardinals bench it was a group of men who had battled back before. Johnny Keane made sure Gibby knew that when the hurler took his seat in the pine during the tenth. He said "Don't worry we have been a scrapping team all year, and we can scrap back again." The men on the bench knew those words were very true, and they wasted no time in getting back to scrapping out the win.

     Bill White opened up the tenth by working a walk out of Pete Mikkelsen who had taken over on the bump for the Yankees with one out in the eighth. Mikkelsen had not allowed a Redbird hit going into that tenth inning. He was hoping to set the stage for his Yankees to win it in the bottom of the frame, but Keane and company had other ideas. The Cardinals skipper then made what might have been considered an unconventional decision when he called on Ken Boyer to bunt. The Cardinals captain had led the team with 24 big blasts, and just 24 hours earlier his grand slam had decided Game 4. With that said, Keane was worried about a double play ball, so the made the call. Boyer had only been called on to bunt just three times that season, and each of those times he bunted foul, before taking a swing that turned into a hit. He had not dropped a successful bunt down all year, but he would today, and it would be good for a single.

     The Cardinals were primed. White took third when it looked like he was going to get picked off at second, then Dick Groat ended up hitting into a fielder's choice that erased Boyer from the basepaths. This had all set the table for the 22-year-old Cardinals catcher Mr. Tim McCarver. He worked the count to 3-2 before taking the swing that sent the Mikkelsen pitch crashing over the wall in right. There would be no hijinx in the bottom of the inning for the Cardinals, as Gibby set the first two men down before Phil Linz tried to breathe life into the Yankees with a single into center. It was a gasp at best though. Roger Maris flied out to Boyer at third and the series was coming home. There was still work to do. Another battle had been won. The Yankees did have their backs against the wall, but they had not lost this war just yet.

Check out the box score here:


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