1961 World Series

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1961 World Series
Team (Wins)Manager(s) Season
New York Yankees (4) Ralph Houk 109–53, .673, GA: 8
Cincinnati Reds (1) Fred Hutchinson 93–61, .604, GA: 4
DatesOctober 4–9
MVP Whitey Ford (New York)
Umpires Ed Runge (AL), Jocko Conlan (NL), Frank Umont (AL), Augie Donatelli (NL), Bob Stewart (AL: outfield only), Shag Crawford (NL: outfield only)
Hall of FamersUmpire: Jocko Conlan
Yankees: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle.
Reds: Frank Robinson.
Broadcast
Television NBC
TV announcers Mel Allen and Joe Garagiola
Radio NBC
Radio announcers Bob Wolff and Waite Hoyt
  1960 World Series 1962  

The 1961 World Series matched the New York Yankees (109–53) against the Cincinnati Reds (93–61), with the Yankees winning in five games to earn their 19th championship in 39 seasons. This World Series was surrounded by Cold War political puns pitting the "Reds" against the "Yanks." But the louder buzz concerned the "M&M" boys, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, who spent the summer chasing the ghost of Babe Ruth and his 60–home run season of 1927. Mantle finished with 54 while Maris set the record of 61 on the last day of the season. With all the attention surrounding the home run race, the World Series seemed almost anticlimatic.

The 1961 New York Yankees season was the 59th season for the team in New York, and its 61st season overall. The team finished with a record of 109–53, eight games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, and won their 26th American League pennant. New York was managed by Ralph Houk. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they defeated the Cincinnati Reds in 5 games. This season was best known for the home run chase between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, with the former beating Babe Ruth's single season record by hitting 61.

The 1961 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. It consisted of the Reds winning the National League pennant with a 93–61 record, four games ahead of the runner-up Los Angeles Dodgers, but losing the World Series in five games to the New York Yankees. The Reds were managed by Fred Hutchinson, and played their home games at Crosley Field. The Reds were also the last team to win the National League in the 154-game schedule era, before going to a 162-game schedule a year later.

Cold War Geopolitical tension after World War II between the Eastern and Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. The historiography of the conflict began between 1946 and 1947. The Cold War began to de-escalate after the Revolutions of 1989. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 was the end of the Cold War. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.

Contents

The Yankees were under the leadership of first-year manager Ralph Houk, who had succeeded Casey Stengel. The Yankees won the American League pennant, finishing eight games better than the Detroit Tigers. The Bronx Bombers also set a Major League record for most home runs in a season with 240. Along with Maris and Mantle, four other Yankees, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Bill Skowron, and Johnny Blanchard, hit more than 20 home runs. The pitching staff was led by Cy Young Award-winner Whitey Ford (25–4, 3.21).

Ralph Houk American baseball player and coach

Ralph George Houk, nicknamed The Major, was an American catcher, coach, manager, and front office executive in Major League Baseball. He is best known as the successor of Casey Stengel as manager of the New York Yankees from 1961–1963, when his teams won three consecutive American League pennants and the 1961 and 1962 World Series championships.

Casey Stengel American baseball player and coach

Charles Dillon "Casey" Stengel was an American Major League Baseball right fielder, and manager, best known as the manager of both the championship New York Yankees of the 1950s and later, of the expansion New York Mets. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

The 1961 Detroit Tigers won 101 games but finished in second place, eight games behind the Yankees. The team's 1961 record tied the 1934 Tigers team record of 101 wins, and only twice in team history have the Tigers won more games: 1968 and 1984.

The underdog Reds, skippered by Fred Hutchinson, finished four games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League and boasted four 20-plus home run hitters of their own: NL MVP Frank Robinson, Gordy Coleman, Gene Freese and Wally Post. The second-base, shortstop, and catcher positions were platooned, while center fielder Vada Pinson led the league in hits with 208 and finished second in batting with a .343 average. Joey Jay (21–10, 3.53) led the staff, along with dependable Jim O'Toole and Bob Purkey.

Fred Hutchinson American Major League Baseball player, Major League Baseball manager

Frederick Charles Hutchinson was an American professional baseball player, a major league pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, and the manager for three major league teams.

The 1961 Los Angeles Dodgers finished in second place in the National League with a record of 89–65, four games behind the Cincinnati Reds. 1961 was the fourth season for the Dodgers in Los Angeles. It was also the Dodgers final season of playing their home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, since they moved to their new stadium the following season.

National League Baseball league, part of Major League Baseball

The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League (NL), is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada, and the world's oldest current professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP) of 1871–1875, the NL is sometimes called the Senior Circuit, in contrast to MLB's other league, the American League, which was founded 25 years later and is called the "Junior Circuit".

The American League added two teams, the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Senators, through expansion and also increased teams' respective schedules by eight games to 162. The National League was a year away from its own expansion as the Reds and the other NL teams maintained the 154-game schedule.

Los Angeles Angels Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Anaheim, California, United States

The Los Angeles Angels are an American professional baseball franchise based in Anaheim, California. The Angels compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) West division. The Angels have played home games at Angel Stadium since 1966. The current MLB franchise was established as one of the league's first two expansion teams in 1961 by Gene Autry, the team's first owner. Autry was a famous singing cowboy actor in a series of films in the 1930s to 1950s, and later was the subject of the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum. The "Angels" name was taken by Autry in tribute to the previous original Los Angeles Angels, a Minor League franchise in the Pacific Coast League (PCL), which played in South Central Los Angeles from 1903 to 1957. He bought the rights to the Angels name from Walter O'Malley, the then-Los Angeles Dodgers owner, who acquired the PCL franchise from Philip K. Wrigley, also the owner of the parent Chicago Cubs at the time, as part of the Dodgers' move to Southern California.

The Most Valuable Player Award for the series went to lefty Whitey Ford, who won two games while throwing 14 shutout innings.

Whitey Ford American professional baseball player, pitcher, coach

Edward Charles "Whitey" Ford, nicknamed "The Chairman of the Board", is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played his entire 16-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career with the New York Yankees. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

Ford left the sixth inning of Game 4 due to an injured ankle. He set the record for consecutive scoreless innings during World Series play with 32, when, during the third inning he passed the previous record holder, Babe Ruth, who had pitched 29 23 consecutive scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox in 1916 and 1918. Ford would extend that record to 33 23 in the 1962 World Series.

Babe Ruth American baseball player

George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. Nicknamed "The Bambino" and "The Sultan of Swat", he began his MLB career as a star left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. Ruth established many MLB batting records, including career home runs (714), runs batted in (RBIs) (2,213), bases on balls (2,062), slugging percentage (.690), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164); the latter still stands as of 2019. Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. In 1936, Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its "first five" inaugural members.

Boston Red Sox Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

The Boston Red Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. The Red Sox have won nine World Series championships, tied for the third-most of any MLB team, and they have played in 13. Their most recent appearance and win was in 2018. In addition, they won the 1904 American League pennant, but were not able to defend their 1903 World Series championship when the New York Giants refused to participate in the 1904 World Series. Founded in 1901 as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox' home ballpark has been Fenway Park since 1912. The "Red Sox" name was chosen by the team owner, John I. Taylor, circa 1908, following the lead of previous teams that had been known as the "Boston Red Stockings", including the forerunner of the Atlanta Braves.

1916 World Series 1916 Major League Baseball championship series

In the 1916 World Series, the Boston Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robins four games to one. It was the first World Series meeting between the teams.

The 1961 five-game series was the shortest since 1954, when the New York Giants swept the Cleveland Indians in four games.

These two teams would meet again 15 years later in the 1976 World Series, which the Reds would win in a four-game sweep.

Summary

AL New York Yankees (4) vs. NL Cincinnati Reds (1)

GameDateScoreLocationTimeAttendance 
1October 4Cincinnati Reds – 0, New York Yankees – 2 Yankee Stadium 2:1162,397 [1]  
2October 5Cincinnati Reds – 6, New York Yankees – 2Yankee Stadium2:4363,083 [2]  
3October 7New York Yankees – 3, Cincinnati Reds – 2 Crosley Field 2:1532,589 [3]  
4October 8New York Yankees – 7, Cincinnati Reds – 0Crosley Field2:2732,589 [4]  
5October 9New York Yankees – 13, Cincinnati Reds – 5Crosley Field3:0532,589 [5]

Matchups

Game 1

Wednesday, October 4, 1961 1:00 pm (ET) at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York
Team123456789 R H E
Cincinnati000000000020
New York00010100X260
WP: Whitey Ford (1–0)   LP: Jim O'Toole (0–1)
Home runs:
CIN: None
NYY: Elston Howard (1), Bill Skowron (1)

At Yankee Stadium, Whitey Ford established himself as the premier post-season pitcher by tossing his third straight World Series shutout. A fourth-inning shot into the lower right-field stands by Elston Howard was all Ford would need. Moose Skowron added a sixth-inning shot into the lower left-field to make it 2–0. The two-hour, 11-minute game featured only two hits by the Reds, a first-inning single to left by Eddie Kasko and a fifth-inning single by Wally Post. The only other Reds baserunner was Frank Robinson, who walked in the seventh. Otherwise, Ford was dominant, adding six strikeouts. Jim O'Toole pitched well for the Reds, allowing just six hits in seven innings.

Ford was also aided by two excellent defensive plays by third baseman Clete Boyer. In the second inning, Boyer backhanded a Gene Freese ground ball close to the bag, wheeled, and threw out his third-base counterpart from his knees. In the eighth, Boyer dove to his left onto his stomach after a Dick Gernert ground ball; coming up with the ball, Boyer threw Gernert out, also from his knees.

Game 2

Thursday, October 5, 1961 1:00 pm (ET) at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York
Team123456789 R H E
Cincinnati000211020690
New York000200000243
WP: Joey Jay (1–0)   LP: Ralph Terry (0–1)
Home runs:
CIN: Gordy Coleman (1)
NYY: Yogi Berra (1)

The Reds came charging back on superb pitching by Joey Jay to win Game 2 and even the series. Reds first baseman Gordy Coleman and Yankees' left-fielder Yogi Berra traded two-run homers in the fourth. Coleman hit his homer into the right-center field bleachers after Frank Robinson reached on an error by Yankees' third-baseman Clete Boyer. After Roger Maris led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk, Berra tied the score with a drive into the lower right-field stands.

From there, Jay would give up only two more hits, a Berra single in the sixth and a Tony Kubek single to center in the eighth. The Reds continued to score with single runs in the fifth and sixth and two in the eighth. The Reds went ahead for good with two outs in the fifth when Elio Chacón sprinted home from third on an Elston Howard passed ball that didn't get much further than 15 feet away. Yankee starter Ralph Terry would give up one more run in the sixth on a Wally Post double and a run- scoring single by eighth-place hitter Johnny Edwards, before being lifted in the seventh for pinch-hitter Héctor López.

Luis Arroyo took over in the eighth and walked Robinson, gave up an infield single to Coleman on a roller between third and the mound and then threw wild to first, with Robinson scoring; Coleman was thrown out trying for third. The next batter, Wally Post, reached safely when Berra misplayed his fly for a three-base error. With Post on third, Gene Freese was intentionally walked for the second time in the game and Edwards followed with his second hit, a bloop double to left, scoring Post. Jay would seal the victory for the Reds by retiring six of the remaining seven batters, allowing only a walk to Clete Boyer in the ninth.

The series shifted to Cincinnati with the pressure on New York. After falling to a perceived inferior team (the Pittsburgh Pirates) in the 1960 World Series, a loss that cost long-time manager Casey Stengel his job, fans and media were wondering if it could happen again as the Yankees limped into Cincinnati with the series tied, having scored a total of just four runs and 10 hits in the first two games as several of the Yankee hitters struggled including the "M&M Boys."

Game 3

Saturday, October 7, 1961 1:00 pm (EST) at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio
Team123456789 R H E
New York000000111361
Cincinnati001000100280
WP: Luis Arroyo (1–0)   LP: Bob Purkey (0–1)
Home runs:
NYY: Johnny Blanchard (1), Roger Maris (1)
CIN: None

Cincinnati hosted its first World Series in 21 years at Crosley Field.

Game 3 pitted New York's 23-year-old right-hander Bill Stafford against Reds' veteran knuckleballer Bob Purkey. Stafford pitched well for 6 23 innings. Purkey also had outstanding control and kept the Yankee hitters off balance, but New York would triumph on a Maris home run in the ninth. While the Yankees' offense still was stagnant, it was just good enough.

Cincinnati struck first with a run in the bottom of the third when Elio Chacón beat out a bunt and took second when Stafford threw wildly to first. Eddie Kasko fouled out to Bill Skowron and Vada Pinson grounded out to send Chacón to third before Frank Robinson hit a double off the left-field wall to make it 1–0.

In the seventh, the Yankees got a big break to tie the game. Tony Kubek led off with a single to center, then took second on a Johnny Edwards passed ball. After Mickey Mantle struck out, Yogi Berra blooped a ball into short right field that neither second baseman Chacón nor right fielder Robinson called before the two collided, allowing the ball to drop as Kubek scored. The Reds regained the lead in their half of the inning when Edwards doubled into the right-field corner and eventually scored on a Kasko single to left. Bud Daley came in to relieve Stafford and retired Pinson on a flyout to right to end the inning.

The Reds' lead would be short-lived, as the Yankees tied the score in the eighth. With two outs, Johnny Blanchard (pinch-hitting for Daley), smacked a Purkey knuckler into the right-field bleachers. The Reds went quietly in the bottom of the inning, the score tied at 2–2.

In the ninth, Maris recorded what would be one of only two hits in the Series, but this one went into the right field bleachers for a go-ahead home run. With ace reliever Luis Arroyo on the mound for the Yankees in the ninth, the Reds had one last shot. After Gene Freese struck out, Leo Cárdenas, batting for Johnny Edwards, doubled off the left-center field scoreboard. Dick Gernert, pinch-hitting for Purkey, grounded out to short, Cardenas holding. The third pinch-hitter in the inning, Gus Bell, ended the Reds' comeback attempt by grounding back to the mound, Arroyo to Skowron, to end the thriller and give the Yankees a two games to one Series lead.

Game 4

Sunday, October 8, 1961 1:00 pm (EST) at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio
Team123456789 R H E
New York0001123007110
Cincinnati000000000051
WP: Whitey Ford (2–0)   LP: Jim O'Toole (0–2)   Sv: Jim Coates (1)

Whitey Ford started Game 4 for the Yankees in an attempt to continue his post-season shutout streak, but more importantly to give the Bombers a 3–1 lead in the Series. He accomplished both. Ford retired the first nine batters of the game; when Elio Chacón grounded out to Bobby Richardson at second base for the final out in the third, Ford broke Babe Ruth's record of 29 23 consecutive scoreless innings. Ford remained in the game until the end of the fifth, when an apparent ankle injury forced him to leave, his new record at 32 consecutive shutout innings. Jim Coates entered the game in the sixth and pitched four shutout innings.

The Yankees scored the game's first run in the fourth. Roger Maris led off with a walk and went to third on a single to left-center by Mickey Mantle. Elston Howard grounded into a double play, Maris scoring. The Yankees added another run in the fifth on a walk to Ford, a Bobby Richardson single to right-center and a run-scoring single by in Tony Kubek.

In the sixth, O'Toole was relieved by Jim Brosnan who got into a jam. With one out, Howard doubled to right-center. After Yogi Berra was intentionally walked, Skowron loaded the bases by beating out a slow roller to third. Clete Boyer then doubled to left to plate two runs. The Yankees put on the safety squeeze, only to have Ford bunt right to Reds first baseman Gordy Coleman who tagged first base. Boyer had moved to third and Skowron had come halfway home before stopping. Coleman then raced across the diamond and tagged Skowron, who was trapped between third and home, for an unassisted double play.

The Yankees would add three more runs in the seventh to put the game away. New York's seven-run output equaled what the Bronx Bombers were able to put up combined in their first three games as solid Reds starting pitching, combined with a wounded Mantle, kept the New York offense sputtering. That would change in Game 5.

Game 5

Monday, October 9, 1961 1:00 pm (EST) at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio
Team123456789 R H E
New York51050200013151
Cincinnati0030200005113
WP: Bud Daley (1–0)   LP: Joey Jay (1–1)
Home runs:
NYY: Johnny Blanchard (2), Héctor López (1)
CIN: Frank Robinson (1), Wally Post (1)

Future Hall-of-Famers Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle sat out Game 5, Berra with a stiff shoulder, Mantle still suffering from a hip abscess. But substitutes Héctor López and Johnny Blanchard more than made up for the absence of the two stars. Lopez drove in five runs with a triple and a home run, and Blanchard had three hits, including a double and a homer.

In the first four games, the Yankees scored a total of nine runs off Cincinnati's starting pitchers. In Game 5, New York scored five in the first inning. Reds starter Joey Jay, with 14 regular-season complete games, would uncharacteristically get just two outs before being relieved. After Bobby Richardson singled to start the game, Jay retired Tony Kubek and Roger Maris on fly balls. But the flood gates opened when Blanchard hit a two-run homer into the right-field bleachers. Elston Howard was awarded a ground-rule double when his blast went through an opening in the left-center field scoreboard. Bill Skowron followed with a long single off the left-field fence, scoring Howard. Jim Maloney entered the game and was greeted with a Lopez triple that scored Skowron. Clete Boyer continued the assault doubling off the scoreboard, scoring Lopez. The ninth batter of the inning, Yankee pitcher Ralph Terry mercifully struck out to end the inning but not until five Yankees had touched home plate.

New York added to its lead in the second on a Kubek single and a Maris double just inside the left-field line. The Reds cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third and chased Terry in the process. Don Blasingame led off with a single to center, Eddie Kasko singled to left and Vada Pinson hit a fly moving Blasingame to third. Frank Robinson then took Terry deep with a three-run shot over the right-center field fence. Bud Daley replaced Terry and shut the door on the Reds.

The Yankee offense added to its lead with five runs in the fourth, the big blows were a two-run single by Skowron and a three-run home run to dead center by Lopez. The Reds got a little closer after scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth (on a two-run Wally Post home run) to cut it to 11–5. Then Yankees finished the rout by added two more runs in the sixth on sacrifices by Lopez (on a squeeze play) and Daley (on a fly ball).

This was the final World Series game ever played at Crosley Field, and the last postseason game in Cincinnati until the team moved to Riverfront Stadium in 1970

Houk became only the third skipper in history to win the World Series in his first season.

Composite line score

1961 World Series (4–1): New York Yankees (A.L.) over Cincinnati Reds (N.L.)

Team123456789 R H E
New York Yankees 51091541127425
Cincinnati Reds 00423112013354
Total attendance: 223,247  Average attendance: 44,649
Winning player's share: $7,389  Losing player's share: $5,356 [6]

Notes

  1. "1961 World Series Game 1 – Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Yankees". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  2. "1961 World Series Game 2 – Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Yankees". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  3. "1961 World Series Game 3 – New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  4. "1961 World Series Game 4 – New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  5. "1961 World Series Game 5 – New York Yankees vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  6. "World Series Gate Receipts and Player Shares". Baseball Almanac. Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. Retrieved June 14, 2009.

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References