The 1962 World Series matched the defending American League and World Series champions New York Yankees against the National League champion San Francisco Giants. It is best remembered for its dramatic conclusion; with runners on second and third and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey hit an exceptionally hard line drive that was caught by second baseman Bobby Richardson to preserve a one-run victory for the Yankees.
The Giants had won their first NL pennant since 1954 and first since moving from New York in 1958. They advanced by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game playoff. The Giants had a higher cumulative batting average and lower earned-run average, hit more home runs, triples, and doubles, yet lost the Series. They would not return to the Fall Classic for another 27 years.
The Yankees took the Series in seven games for the 20th championship in team history. The Yankees had won their first World Series in 1923; of the 40 Series played between 1923 and 1962, the Yankees won half. After a long dominance of the World Series picture, the Yankees would not win another World Series for another 15 years despite appearances in 1963, 1964 and 1976.
This World Series, which was closely matched in every game, is also remembered for its then-record length of 13 days, caused by rain in both cities.
AL New York Yankees (4) vs. NL San Francisco Giants (3)
†: postponed from October 9 due to rain
††: postponed from October 11 due to rain
Roger Maris' two-run double in the first inning set up Yankee starter Whitey Ford with a lead, but Willie Mays scored for the Giants in the second, ending Ford's record World Series consecutive scoreless inning streak at 33 2⁄3. Chuck Hiller's double and Felipe Alou's hit in the third tied the game, but the Yankees broke the tie in the seventh on Clete Boyer's home run and scored three insurance runs in the final two innings. Ford's complete-game victory was the first of six in the series, four for the Yankees and two for the Giants.
With the Giants protecting a 1–0 lead in the seventh inning, Willie McCovey smashed a tremendous home run over the right-field fence to boost 24-game winner Jack Sanford to a 2–0 shutout of the Yankees, who managed only three hits.
The Yankees ended a scoreless tie in the seventh with three runs. Roger Maris drove a base hit off starter Billy Pierce for two runs, and he scored the eventual winning run in a 3–2 Yankee victory when the Giants were unable to turn an inning-ending double play. Giants catcher Ed Bailey's two-run homer in the top of the ninth left the Giants a run short.
For the second time in as many games, a Giants catcher stroked a two-run homer, when Tom Haller hit his off Whitey Ford in the second inning. After the Yankees tied the score at 2–2, second baseman Chuck Hiller hit the first National League grand slam in World Series history in the seventh, and the Giants went on to win 7–3. This game marked the only World Series appearance for Juan Marichal, who started for the Giants. Marichal smashed the thumb on his pitching hand while attempting to bunt in the top of the fifth, and was placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the series.
Don Larsen was the winning pitcher in relief, six years to the day, and in the same stadium of his perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Games 5 and 6 were postponed by rain. Game 5 at New York was pushed back one day, but Game 6 in San Francisco was pushed back four days due to torrential rain on the West Coast. Three of the longest World Series in terms of total days, due to various postponements, involved the Giants: the 1911 and the 1989 were the other two.
In Game 5, hot-hitting José Pagán drove in two runs with a single in the third and a home run in the fifth. But with the score tied 2–2 in the eighth, Tom Tresh walloped what proved to be the winning homer, a three-run shot that also scored Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek. With the series returning to San Francisco the Yankees had the edge, three games to two, only to have the sixth game delayed four days by rain.
In a battle of left-handed starting pitchers, Pierce out-dueled Ford with a complete-game three-hitter as the Giants evened the series at three wins apiece with a 5–2 victory. The Yankees' only runs came on a Maris solo home run in the fifth inning and an RBI single by Tony Kubek in the eighth inning.
The only run of this classic game came in the fifth inning when Tony Kubek grounded into a double play, Bill Skowron scoring from third. Ralph Terry, pitching the seventh game instead of Jim Bouton because of the rain delays, had given up Bill Mazeroski's Series-winning walk-off home run two years earlier in Pittsburgh, but in his third start stifled the Giants' power hitters. In the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Matty Alou, batting for reliever Billy O'Dell, led off the inning with a bunt hit after first having a foul ball dropped, but Terry struck out the next two batters, Felipe Alou and Hiller. Mays hit a double into the right-field corner, but Maris played the carom well, then hit cut-off man Richardson with a throw that was quickly relayed home. Alou, aware of Maris' strong arm, stopped at third. Facing Willie McCovey with two outs, Terry elected to pitch to him rather than walk the bases loaded, which would have brought up slugger Orlando Cepeda. Terry's inside fastball on the second pitch handcuffed McCovey, who nonetheless adjusted his bat in mid-swing to extend his arms and hit what he later claimed was the hardest ball he had ever struck. The line drive appeared at first to be going over the head of a well-positioned Richardson, but was in fact sinking from topspin and Richardson made the catch without leaping to end the game. Terry was named the World Series MVP.
The Yankees won their 20th World Series; they would not win another until 1977. The Giants would not win another National League pennant until 1989, when they would lose the World Series to the Oakland A's in a series interrupted by a major earthquake.
1962 World Series (4–3): New York Yankees (A.L.) over San Francisco Giants (N.L.)
Ralph Terry gets set. Here's the pitch to Willie. There's a liner straight to Richardson! The ballgame is over and the World Series is over!
For the Peanuts comic strip of December 22, 1962, cartoonist and Giants fan Charles M. Schulz depicted Charlie Brown sitting glumly with Linus, lamenting in the last panel, "Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?" The January 28, 1963, strip featured a nearly identical scene, except in the last panel Charlie Brown moaned, "Or why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball even two feet higher?"
During the 1981 Major League Baseball strike, Giants radio flagship KNBR rebroadcast Game 7, electronically re-editing NBC Radio announcer George Kell's description to make it sound as if McCovey's ninth-inning liner had gotten past Richardson, with Alou and Mays scoring to win the game and Series for San Francisco.
The Giants would finally win their first World Series in San Francisco 48 years later and after additional World Series losses in 1989 and 2002. During Ring Night in April 2011, Mays, McCovey, and Cepeda received honorary 2010 World Series rings.