Through six months and 327 ball games, it seemed unlikely that the collective pitching staffs of the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants were in any danger of being inducted into the Hall of Fame en masse. Neither team reached the World Series on pitching, but on crash. The Giants led the National League in batting and home runs, the Yankees led the American League in batting and were second in homers. Willie Mays won a championship, Mickey Mantle narrowly missed another. The Yankees had three regulars over .300, the Giants four. So what happened in the Series? Somebody took the rabbit out of the ball and put spaghetti in the bats. The names of the scoundrels were Ford, Sanford, Terry, Stafford, Pierce and Marichal.
Some of them won and some of them lost but seldom, if ever, has a World Series begun with such superb all-round work from the mound. After three games the Yankees were hitting .202 as a team, with one home run, the Giants .213 with two. Inevitably such futile swatting had to end, but even when it did, in the fourth game, it was because both starting pitchers had been replaced—due to circumstance, not weakness.
The fourth game began with Juan Marichal, considered by some the finest young pitcher in the National League, attempting to even the Series at two games apiece at the expense of Edward Charles Ford, considered by almost everyone the finest middle-aged pitcher south of Cooperstown. For four innings the Yankees could do nothing with Marichal and trailed 2-0 as a result of Catcher Tom Haller's two-run homer in the second. But then Ford solved the problem himself.
In the top of the fifth he threw a pitch that Marichal, trying to bunt, misjudged. The ball hit Marichal on the pitching hand, smashing his index finger, and the young right-hander was through. The Yankees tied the score in the sixth, and Ford departed, too, for a pinch hitter. The pitching replacements available to Manager Ralph Houk were all Giant cousins.
The big Giant effort was delivered by young Chuck Hiller with two out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Two innings before, Hiller had struck out with the bases full. This time he swung lustily at a Marshall Bridges fast ball that promptly landed in the lap of a New York restaurant owner named Cappy Roselli sitting up front in the right-field stands. This was the first World Series grand slam home run ever hit by a National Leaguer. Six of the previous seven were hit by Yankees.
"Mah fast ball usely runs in on a left-handah," said Bridges. "This one fohgot to run." In a most unusual Series, it was one of the few pitches that didn't go where it was aimed.
Ford won the opener by a score of 6-2 over Billy O'Dell, who had started only once and relieved only once in the previous four days as the Giants scrambled frantically past the Dodgers to the National League pennant. He was, therefore, the most rested—or least un-rested—member of Alvin. Dark's pitching staff. But O'Dell was tired and he knew it. So did Manager Dark, but there was nothing he could do about it. And so did the Yankees—although it took them seven innings to cash in on the fact.
They led, briefly, 2-0 on Roger Maris' first-inning double that was a home run until Felipe Alou climbed up the right-field fence and pulled it back into the field of play (see page 20). But the Giants pecked away at Ford for a run in the second inning on three hits, the last of these a deftly executed bunt by Jose Pagan with Willie Mays on third. "I see third baseman play left field," said Pagan, "so I surprise heem. I surprise pitcher, too, no?"
The Giants tied it up in the third when Mays drove in a run with a clout into center field. In fact, for a while the ball game seemed to be shaping up as a duel between Ford and Mays. Wondrous Willie got three hits, one of them a viciously hooking ground ball through shortstop that Tony Kubek called "the hardest I have ever seen." Tony started toward his left, ended up reaching, in vain, toward his right as the ball shot past. "I thought you played that one beautifully," Bobby Richardson told Kubek later. "You managed not to get hit by it." Although Mays won the battle, it was Ford who won the war. He stopped the Giants after the third inning on four scattered singles, one by Mays, and even struck Willie out on a good fast ball tight across the letters his fourth time up. When Mays trotted to the bench, Ford had to grin.
One reason for the grin was that the Yankees had put him back in the lead in the seventh on Clete Boyer's lead-off homer to left. They scored three more runs against O'Dell, Don Larsen and Stu Miller in the eighth and ninth innings. Whitey's record World Series scoreless streak ended at 33[2/3] innings when Mays crossed the plate, an event that hardly left Ford in tears. "I'm glad it's over. That thing was beginning to bug me," he said.