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1964 World Series had Many Notable Events

Updated on May 4, 2017

The other day I discovered the 1964 World Series. Not that it was lost, but I stumbled across it when, as often happens, my search for one thing led to another, which led to another and another and finally found its way to the 1964 Series.

In this World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Yankees in seven games. I was 5 at the time, so I have absolutely no memory of this Series, but I discovered it was significant for a number of reasons.

1964 World Series

1 - StL 9, NY 5
W-Sadecki, L-Ford
NY-Tresh, StL-Shannon
2 - NY 8, StL 3
W-Stottlemyre, L-Gibson
3 - NY 2, StL 1
W-Bouton, L-Shultz
4 - StL 4, NY 3
W-Craig, L-Downing
5 - StL 5, NY 2 (10)
W-Gibson, L-Mikkelson
St.L-McCarver, NY-Tresh
6 - NY 8, StL 3
W-Bouton, L-Simmnos
NY-Maris, Mantle, Pepitone*
7 - StL 7, NY 5
W-Gibson, L-Stottlemyre
NY-Mantle, C.Boyer, Linz, StL-Brock, K.Boyer
*Grand Slam

End of One Era, Beginning of Another

Probably the most notable aspect of this Series is that it marked the end of a Yankees dynasty. From 1921-64, the Yankees appeared in 29 of the 44 World Series played and won 20 of them. That included a stretch from 1947-64 when they appeared in 15 of the 18 World Series, winning 10 of them. If you were an 18-year-old in 1964, you virtually never saw a World Series that didn’t have the Yankees in it.

From 1921-64, the Yankees never went more than three years without being in the Series, twice playing in it five years in a row (1949-53 and 1960-64) and once four straight years (1936-39). They won all five from 1949-53 and all four 1936-39. No other team has won more than three straight Series.

So when the 1964 Series ended, there was no reason to think it would be their last appearance for more than a decade. Their next World Series was in 1976, when they lost to Cincinnati in four straight games.

A close second in significance was the start of a mini-dynasty by St. Louis. After the 1964 Series, they also played in 1967 and ’68. 1964 showcased the Cardinals’ young talent like Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Tim McCarver and Mike Shannon. It was their first post-season appearance in 18 years. The Cardinals had played the Yankees in the World Series four times previously, winning in 1926 and 1942.

Hitting the Long Ball

Mickey Mantle broke the all-time World Series home run record in this Series. He had been tied at 15 with Babe Ruth, but he belted three in the Series, including a walk-off bomb in the third game. His final homer was a three-run shot off Gibson in the sixth inning of Game 7.

Although I haven’t been able to confirm it with 100 percent accuracy, I believe this was the only World Series where brothers homered in the same game, at least for opposing teams. In Game 7, Ken Boyer, third baseman for the Cardinals, homered in the seventh inning. In the top of the ninth, his brother Clete, third baseman for the Yankees, homered off Gibson.

The Yankees' storied history from 1921-64 included some of baseball’s most impressive home run hitters – Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mantle, Yogi Berra. So who hit the final home run of their long dynasty? Phil Linz. Linz was a light-hitting shortstop who hit 11 home runs in his entire career, including five in the 1964 season. He had hit one in the Yankees’ Game 2 win. Then with two outs in the top of the ninth in Game 7, he connected again off Gibson. The next Yankee World Series homer came in 1976 when light-hitting shortstop Jim Mason homered in his only at bat in the Series. He only hit 12 in his career.

Ken Boyer’s grand slam was only the second by a National Leaguer (Chuck Hiller of the Giants hit the first in 1962). The next NL player to hit a bases-loaded homer in the World Series was Lonnie Smith for the Braves in 1992. Addison Russell for the Cubs added one last year. The AL has hit 15 grand slams, including one by Joe Pepitone for the Yankees in Game 6 of the ’64 Series. Not surprisingly, the Yankees have clubbed eight of those.

Bob Gibson won two games and was named MVP.
Bob Gibson won two games and was named MVP. | Source

Heroes and Goats

Gibson had a rough start to the Series, losing Game 2 in which he gave up four runs and eight hits in eight innings. However, he rebounded to pitch a 10-inning complete game in Game 5, allowing just six hits and no earned runs, and another complete game in Game 7, marred only by allowing two home runs in the ninth inning. For the Series, he fanned 31 in 27 innings and was named World Series MVP.

Tim McCarver had a terrific Series that should have probably won him the MVP award. He hit .478 with 11 hits, including a double, triple and homer, drove in five runs and struck out just once in 28 plate appearances. His three-run homer in the top of the 10th in Game 5 got Gibson his first win.

Bobby Richardson had another great World Series in a losing cause. In 1960 he’d won the MVP honors despite the Pirates’ dramatic win when he’d driven in 12 runs on 11 hits. In 1964, he set a World Series record with 13 hits (tied twice since then). In the five series from 1960-64, Richardson had 40 hits.

Al Downing, the 23-year-old lefty for the Yankees, could be considered the goat of the Series. He allowed a grand slam to Ken Boyer in the Cardinals’ 4-3 win in Game 4, and allowed three runs without recording an out in the fifth inning of Game 7 that allowed St. Louis to effectively put the game out of reach. Downing later gained much more fame when he served up Hank Aaron’s 715th home run.

Both starting pitchers in Game 1 had RBI singles. Neither Ford nor Cardinals starter Ray Sadecki was known for his hitting prowess. In his next two times to the plate, Ford walked. In his previous 54 World Series plate appearances he had only three hits, five walks and two RBIs.

Swan Songs

Mantle, in his last Series, hit .333 with eight hits, three of them homers, and eight RBIs. That gave him 59 hits, 18 homers and 40 RBIs in his 12 World Series (65 games).

Whitey Ford, who had been one of the premier pitchers to ever appear in a World Series (having once gone 33.2 consecutive innings without allowing a run) appeared only in Game 1 and allowed five runs in 5.1 innings.

Johnny Keane had taken over as the St. Louis manager in the middle of the 1961 season and righted a sinking ship – after going 33-41, they went 47-33 the rest of the way. In 1962, they improved to 84-78, and then were 93-69 in both 1963 and ’64. The Yankees had installed Yogi Berra as manager for the 1964 season and he led them to a 99-63 mark. Bizarrely, the Yankees fired Berra after the season and Keane refused a new contract with the Cardinals to sign on as the new Yankee manager. It was not a good move – in 1965 the Yankees finished 77-85, and after a 4-16 start in 1966, Keane was fired. He died less than a year later.

Bob Uecker playing a sousaphone in the outfield before Game 1 of the 1964 World Series.
Bob Uecker playing a sousaphone in the outfield before Game 1 of the 1964 World Series.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Bob Uecker was a backup catcher for the Cardinals. Before the first game of the Series he stole a sousaphone from the marching band that planned to play before the game. He not only played the sousaphone, but he roamed around the outfield during batting practice trying to catch fly balls with it. He was apparently successful enough that he put some dents into the instrument and had to pay for the damage.


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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 9 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Great work, Mr. Kauffman. I believe you are correct, the Boyers are the only brothers to hit homers in a World Series game. Al Downing had a terrible postseason record in the 3 Series he played. 0-3, maybe over 6.00 ERA.

      McCarver was very underrated. Catching Gibson was not easy.

      Keep up the good work. Sharing everywhere.