McCovey’s liner just missed making history in Game Seven of ’62 World Series against Yanks

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The 1962 Fall Classic was the first World Series played in Northern California, with the Giants hosting in Candlestick Park. Despite having Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Orlando Cepeda in their lineup, the Giants were underdogs to the Yankees. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Moose Skowron brought the power for the Bombers, who were playing in their third straight Series.

The Giants had their opportunities in Game Seven but failed to cash in. The only run of this Ultimate Game came in the fifth inning when Tony Kubek grounded into a double play, Bill Skowron scoring from third. Ralph Terry, pitching the seventh game instead of Jim Bouton because of rain delays that caused the Series to be played over the course of 13 days, had given up Bill Mazeroski’s Series-winning walk-off home run two years earlier in Pittsburgh, but in his third start here he stifled the Giants’ power hitters.

In the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Matty Alou, batting for reliever Billy O’Dell, led off the inning with a bunt hit after first having a foul ball dropped, but Terry struck out the next two batters, Felipe Alou and Chuck Hiller. Mays hit a double into the right-field corner, but Maris played the carom well, then hit cut-off man Richardson with a throw that was quickly relayed home. Alou, aware of Maris’ strong arm, stopped at third. Facing Willie McCovey with two outs, Terry elected to pitch to him rather than walk the bases loaded, which would have brought up Cepeda. Terry’s inside fastball on the second pitch handcuffed McCovey, who nonetheless adjusted his bat in mid-swing to extend his arms and hit what he later claimed was the hardest ball he had ever struck. The line drive appeared at first to be going over the head of a well-positioned Richardson, but was in fact sinking from topspin and Richardson made the catch without leaping to end the game. The Yankees won their 20th World Series, but they would not win another until 1977.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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