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Willie McCovey died this week at the fairly ripe age of 80, and while he's rightfully remembered as one of the most fearsome hitters of his day, I'm incapable of thinking of old Stretch without reflecting on how the 1962 World Series ended.


It was the ninth inning of the seventh game, kids. The Yankees were clinging to a 1-0 lead. Ralph Terry had held the Giants to just two hits. But Matty Alou pinch hit to start the inning and dropped down a bunt single. Terry struck out the next two men but Willie Mays lashed a double into the right field corner, and only an outstanding play by Maris prevented the Giants from tying the game then and there. McCovey was the next batter. He wasn't quite Willie McCovey yet - in four years, the Giants still hadn't figured out how to get him into the lineup every day. But in 1962 he'd hit .293/.368/.590 with 20 HRs in just 229 at bats. McCovey and Terry had seen plenty of each other by this point in the Series - 10 of McCovey's 13 Series ABs had come against Terry. He had homered off him in the second game, and crushed a triple to deep centre off Terry in his previous at bat. Two out, first base open, the go-ahead run already in scoring position. The Yankees also had two LH relievers available in the pen: Marshall Bridges and Bud Daley, who had faced McCovey and retired him in Game Two.

What do you do?

You leave Terry in to pitch to him. Of course you do. McCovey promptly smashed a line drive, but directly at second baseman Bobby Richardson (who needed just one step to make the play) and the Series was over.

Can you imagine such a thing happening today?
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Thursday, November 01 2018 @ 02:43 PM EDT (#367428) #
For his career, McCovey went .277/.387/.539 against RHP (in some of the worst possible situations for a hitter) and .248/.336/.440 against LHP (despite a higher BABIP against LHP).  He struck out a lot more against left-handed pitchers.  It was a large platoon split.  I cannot imagine that a modern-day manager would leave Terry in to face McCovey.  Cepeda was following, and hadn't hit well in the Series.  A modern day manager would almost certainly have brought in the lefty to face McCovey or walked him.

For what it's worth, the Yankees used only six pitchers during the entire series (!).  They were Ford, Terry, Stafford, Coates (a right-hander) and the two lefties- Marshall Bridges and Bud Daley.  Both of the lefties were OK, but not great, and neither had a large platoon advantage.  Bridges was, I guess, the ace of the relievers and ended up with 18 saves during the regular season that year.  It was a different time.


mathesond - Thursday, November 01 2018 @ 02:50 PM EDT (#367429) #
I first heard of Willie McCovey when reading Peanuts collections from the library
Mike Green - Thursday, November 01 2018 @ 03:27 PM EDT (#367430) #
I love this image of a young McCovey.  By the time I saw him, he was not as lean. 
Magpie - Thursday, November 01 2018 @ 03:28 PM EDT (#367431) #
McCovey spent his prime years in the second Dead Ball Era (the enormous strike zone and raised pitching mounds of 1963-68). While he was still able to hit .276/.371.537 with 204 HRs in those six seasons, what he did at age 31 when the mound and strike zone returned to something a little more normal is probably more representative of the kind of hitter he was - .320/.453/.656, if you like that sort of thing. And who doesn't?
Magpie - Thursday, November 01 2018 @ 03:38 PM EDT (#367432) #
By the time I saw him, he was not as lean.

None of us are.

Bridges had pitched one inning in game 5, but that was six days earlier, and while Daley had retired McCovey the one time he faced him, he hadn't pitched since game 3, twelve days previous.

The 1962 Series was interrupted by numerous rain-outs. They played the first two games in San Francisco on Thursday and Friday, flew across the country on Saturday and played games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Monday. Then the weather went bad. First, rain in New York pushed the fifth game back to Wednesday. Then came a travel day and then three more days of rain in San Francisco before they got the final two games in the next Monday and Tuesday.
mathesond - Thursday, November 01 2018 @ 03:38 PM EDT (#367433) #
And what about him winning RoY despit eonly playing in 52 games? Must have been his being a perfect 2-2 in steals that year...
Magpie - Thursday, November 01 2018 @ 04:21 PM EDT (#367434) #
And what about him winning RoY despit only playing in 52 games?

He didn't just win, he was a unanimous choice. It was him or George Altman, I guess. You may be wondering why Cincinnati's 20 year old rookie centre fielder, Vada Pinson, didn't get a single vote after playing 154 games and hitting .316/.371/.509 with 20 HRs and 21 SB. He'd probably have won the award if that had happened last year. But by the rules of the day, Pinson's 96 ABs the year before made him ineligible.
dan gordon - Thursday, November 01 2018 @ 05:39 PM EDT (#367435) #
When I was old enough to get interested in baseball, the Blue Jays were still a ways in the future. The Giants became my favourite team and McCovey was my favourite player. I still wear #44 on my uniforms in my slo-pitch leagues. Not old enough to have been a baseball fan for the 1962 World Series, but I've read about it many times. McCovey had a unique swing where he yanked the bat upright on his follow through, so that the end of the bat was pointing up to the sky. Those are some great pictures of "Stretch", Mike. Thanks.
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