A rather unkind saying circulates around the American League: "They shot the wrong McKinley." It reflects the players' frequent disagreement with calls by William Francis McKinley, the 54-year-old umpire who is second in point of service among all umpires in his league. After McKinley's call in the sixth inning of the second game, the saying was going the rounds of National League players, too.
The score was tied 1-1 with the Yankees' Joe Pepitone at bat and a runner on first base. McKinley, umpiring behind the plate, held that a pitch from Cardinal right-hander Bob Gibson hit Pepitone on the right thigh. Later, Pepitone said that the pitch hit him on the left thigh. The Cardinals maintained all along that the pitch never hit Pepitone at all, and they put up a long and loud argument. Right or wrong, McKinley's decision resulted in the Yankees' second run; later they got six more to win 8-3 and even the Series.
The Cardinals might argue about McKinley's call, but they had to agree that the hero of the game was tall, gaunt Mel Stottlemyre, the 22-year-old Yankee rookie right-hander. Stottlemyre, brought up in August from Richmond, won nine games—every one of them needed to give New York its fifth consecutive pennant—and he did something in his first Series game that few National League pitchers had been able to accomplish all season. He stopped cold the first five Cards in the batting order. These five—Flood, Brock, White, Boyer and Groat—are all genuine .300 hitters. In 18 at bats against Stottlemyre they drove only three balls out of the infield and only one was a hit—a triple in the ninth inning by Groat when the Yankees were leading 8-2.
What Groat had said after the first game proved to be exactly right in the second. The Yankees had Stottlemyre and the Cardinals got only so-so pitching from Gibson and horrendous work from a bullpen that allowed four runs in a single inning of work. Gibson started strong, striking out five Yankees in the first two innings, a performance reminiscent of Sandy Koufax's first two innings against the Yankees last year. The Cardinals went ahead 1-0 in the third, but the Yankees tied it in the fourth and went ahead in the sixth after McKinley's call.
Stottlemyre lived up to his reputation as a low-ball specialist, keeping his pitches around the Cardinals' knees all afternoon. He forced the Cardinals to hit the ball on the ground 16 times, and the Yankee infield had no trouble this time with ground balls. The most impressive thing about Stottlemyre, however, was his poise on the two occasions when he was in serious trouble. Ken Boyer, who often looked bad swinging at Stottlemyre's low pitches, said: "That kid was more effective when he got behind on our hitters than when he was ahead of them. And he got hit hard twice by balls hit back at him, but he never got rattled. That's what impressed me the most. It had to impress anybody."
Pushing his teammate for honors was Phil Linz, who had three hits, one a homer, and a superb day afield. But it was Roger Maris who came up with the best fielding play of the first two games. Running hard, he made a one-handed catch of a drive by McCarver, hit the wall but held on to the ball. It wasn't really necessary, as things turned out, but it was a jewel in its own right.
Elston Howard sat on the short gray stool in his dressing cubicle at Yankee Stadium late Saturday afternoon. "I've been a Yankee for 10 years," he said, "and this is my ninth World Series, covering I don't know how many games . But this game was the most exciting one I've ever seen, because of the way it was played and the way it ended."
Since the Yankees won this one, Howard may be forgiven some prejudices. Certainly Pittsburgh fans would argue that Bill Mazeroski's ninth-inning homer in 1960 provided more excitement than the ninth-inning homer by Mantle that beat the Cardinals 2-1 last Saturday. But both were highly dramatic moments, and this third game was also a thriller all the way.
Curt Simmons and Jim Bouton pitched extremely well, and five outstanding plays were made in the infield. The Cardinals had the go-ahead run on third base in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings but could not bring it in. The Yankees were bothered by Simmons' off-speed pitches. He forced them to hit 17 balls to infielders for outs. Bouton did not strike out as many hitters as he normally does but he got the Cardinals to hit the ball almost exactly where he wanted them to hit it. The first five Cards in the order had two hits in 21 times at bat and one of those was an infield single by White, his only hit in 11 tries in the Series.