The 1964 World Series pitted the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals against the American League champion New York Yankees, with the Cardinals prevailing in seven games. St. Louis won their seventh world championship, while the Yankees, who had appeared in 14 of 16 World Series since 1949, did not play in the Series again until 1976.
In an unusual twist, the Yankees fired Yogi Berra after the Series ended, replacing him with Johnny Keane, who had resigned from the Cardinals after the Series. His job had been threatened by Cardinals management, and it was unexpectedly saved by the Cardinals' dramatic pennant drive.
This was also the last World Series that matched the Yankees up against the Cardinals; in the previous four meetings, each team had won twice, with the Yankees winning in 1928 and 1943, and the Cardinals in 1926 and 1942.
This pennant for the Yankees concluded their remarkable run of 15 World Series appearances over 18 years. Indeed, they had won 29 American League championships in the 44-year span from 1921 through 1964.
The 1964 World Series, and the season leading up to it, later became the subject for the David Halberstam New York Times bestseller October 1964. The Series is seen as a bellwether point in baseball history as it was the last hurrah for the 1950s Yankee Dynasty of Mantle, Maris, Ford and Berra, among others, and it demonstrated that the National League's growing enthusiasm to sign black and Latino players (such as those of the '64 Cardinals) was a permanent paradigm shift in fielding a championship team.
The Series featured the brother-against-brother match-up of Ken Boyer of the Cardinals and Clete Boyer of the Yankees, both of whom started at third base for their respective teams.
For the first time in Series history, all six umpires rotated through their positions. In all Series from 1947 through 1963, only the four infield umpires had rotated, with the last two umpires working only in the outfield throughout the Series.
Mickey Mantle, playing in his last Series, hit three home runs, raising his total to a record-setting 18, surpassing Babe Ruth's mark of 15.
Utility infielder Chet Trail, who had no prior major league experience, appeared on the Yankees' World Series roster to fill the opening created by an injury to Tony Kubek. Trail did not play in the series (Phil Linz played in place of Kubek), and Trail never appeared in a major league game during his career.
After winning the American League pennant in 1963, the Yankees faced strong challenges from the pitching-rich Chicago White Sox and up-and-coming Baltimore Orioles in 1964. On August 22, the Yankees were in third place, 5 1⁄2 games out of first. Led by recently called up pitcher Mel Stottlemyre (who went 9–3), and helped by the post trade deadline acquisition of relief pitcher Pedro Ramos (2–0 with seven saves for New York) from Cleveland, the Yankees went 27–8 to take a 3 1⁄2 game lead with five to play. After losing two games in Detroit, the Yankees clinched the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season with an 8–3 win over the Indians.
The Cardinals were coming off a second-place finish in 1963, and their road to the World Series was even more dramatic than that of the Yankees. After a season long four way race between the Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Cincinnati Reds, the Phillies appeared to have the pennant in hand as they built a 6 1⁄2 game lead with 12 games to play. But they proceeded to lose 10 straight games. With two games remaining, four teams still had a mathematical chance to win the pennant. The Giants were the first to be eliminated when they lost on October 3 to the Cubs, 10–7. The Cardinals lost to the lowly Mets, 15–5, while the Phillies ended their 10-game losing streak with a 4–3 win over the Reds. Going into the last day of the season, the Cardinals and Reds were tied for first and the Phillies were one game back; the Phillies hoped to force the first three-way tie in major league history by defeating the Reds and hoping the Mets would beat the Cardinals. The Phillies did their part by defeating the Reds, 10–0, but the Cardinals overcame an early 3–2 deficit and beat the Mets, 11–5, to win the pennant.
During the season the Cardinals would be involved in the Lou Brock-for-Ernie Broglio trade, which would later be considered the most lopsided trade in baseball history.
NL St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. AL New York Yankees (3)
The Cardinals' scouting report indicated that injuries had taken their toll on Mickey Mantle's defense and that he could be run on. They acted on this intelligence, taking extra bases repeatedly and scoring from second on singles in the second and sixth innings. The Cardinals also believed that they should swing early in the count against Whitey Ford, and this strategy also paid off, as Ray Sadecki, Carl Warwick and Mike Shannon all drove in runs on the first or second pitches of at-bats.
The Yankees led this game 4–2 after 5 1⁄2 innings behind the pitching of Whitey Ford, but the Cardinals sent eight men to the plate in the sixth inning and scored four runs, including two on a home run by Mike Shannon. Ford pitched with severe pain and numbness in his arm for much of the 1964 season, and that day he was again in pain and missing with sliders inside. Shannon came up looking for sliders and hit one 500 feet. This was the last World Series appearance by Ford, whose shoulder had been injured during the season. Ford had pitched in 22 World Series games with the Yankees, compiling ten victories, going back to the sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1950, and set a record which still stands by pitching 33 2⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings in three different World Series (1960–62).
Rookie Mel Stottlemyre, called up from the minors in August, dominated for New York and the Cardinal bullpen wilted in the late innings, and the Yankees won 8–3 to even the series up.
Curt Simmons and Jim Bouton were both very effective. Simmons got 17 ground-ball outs. Bouton stranded the go-ahead run four times and held the top five hitters in the Cardinal lineup to a 2 for 21 day.
In the bottom of the ninth, Mickey Mantle reached deep for one of the last ounces of Yankees magic. With the game tied at one, Mantle, the leadoff hitter, told on-deck hitter Elston Howard to go back to the clubhouse because he was going to hit a home run. Mantle swung at the first pitch from Cardinal pitcher Barney Schultz, a knuckleball that failed to move, and hit it into the right field stands to win the game for the Yankees. Schultz had been a mainstay of the Cardinals' stretch run and Yankee scouting reports had advised his knuckler was most vulnerable on the first pitch when he threw harder than usual to try for a strike. Mantle's home run (his sixteenth Series home run) broke Babe Ruth's record for most home runs hit in World Series play.
Cardinal starting pitcher Ray Sadecki let the first four Yankees hit safely and was promptly removed by manager Keane with the Yankees already up 2–0. Roger Craig came in to pitch and gave up an RBI single to Howard but allowed no more damage. After five innings, New York was still up 3–0 and St. Louis had only one hit off of Downing.
The turning point of the Series came in the top of the sixth. Carl Warwick led off with his third pinch hit base hit, tying a World Series record. Curt Flood singled to put runners on first and second. After Lou Brock flew out, Dick Groat reached base on a slow roller that was bobbled by Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson. Instead of runners on second and third with two out, the bases were loaded with one out.
In the first game, Yankee Al Downing struck Cardinal Ken Boyer out with a high changeup. Downing faced Boyer again with the bases loaded, and Boyer guessed that he'd see the high changeup again. He guessed right, and hit a grand slam home run. Ron Taylor relieved Craig and gave up one hit over the last four innings. The Cardinals won the game 4–3; instead of trailing three games to one, Boyer's grand slam enabled then to even the Series at two games apiece.
This game was as exciting as the previous. The game was scoreless in the top of the fifth inning when trouble came. Pitcher Bob Gibson led off the inning with a single. Then Richardson fumbled a possible double-play ground ball struck by Curt Flood with one on and one out. Now there were two on with one out, instead of the inning being over. Lou Brock, 0 for his last 14 in the series, promptly singled in one run, and another came in on a ground ball hit by Bill White after Phil Linz made another misplay, throwing a ball into the dirt at first on what should have been the back end of a double play.
The Yankees were still down 2–0 when they rallied in the ninth inning. Mantle reached base on an error by Dick Groat. With one out and one on, Joe Pepitone smashed a bouncer off Bob Gibson's leg, the ball ricocheting towards the third-base line. Gibson recovered quickly and threw to first, and the Cardinals were one out away. With two out, though, Tom Tresh crushed a long drive into the right center field bleachers and the game was tied. The game went to extra innings, and it was the Cardinals who seized the initiative. With two on and one out and lefty hitter Tim McCarver up, Berra stuck with right-hander Pete Mikkelsen rather than using lefty specialist Steve Hamilton. McCarver delivered a three run home run in the tenth inning to send the Cardinals back to St. Louis with a 3–2 lead in the series. Just 22 years old at the time, McCarver would go 11-for-23 (.478) in the series. For his entire career McCarver would hit .271. This was the last postseason game at Yankee Stadium before its renovation after the 1973 season.
Mickey Mantle hit his second home run of the Series and Joe Pepitone broke the game open with a grand slam onto the right field pavilion roof in the eighth inning. The Series was tied at three games apiece.
"Something had to give" in Game 7, as the Yankees had lost back to back World Series only once (to the New York Giants in 1921–22, and were in danger of doing so again, having lost to the Dodgers in 1963) and the Cardinals had never lost a World Series Game 7.
Bob Gibson pitched his third start in this Series on two days rest. He was tired but deliberately worked fast to hide his fatigue from the Yankees. In the bottom of the fourth the Cardinals scored three times. Again the Yankees botched a double play when Linz's throw to first went wide, and Bill White scored. McCarver then scored from third on a double steal. Al Downing came in for the fifth after Stottlemyre developed shoulder stiffness and Lou Brock hit his first pitch for a home run. Two more runs made it 6–0.
Mantle cut the gap in half with a three-run homer in the sixth, adding to his own record for total home runs in the World Series. Ken Boyer responded with a home run in the seventh that pushed the lead to 7–3. Bobby Richardson broke a World Series hit record in the seventh with his 13th hit, later tied by Brock in 1968, and Marty Barrett in 1986. Gibson continued to tire, but manager Keane left him in. Ken Boyer's brother Clete hit a home run for New York with one out in the ninth, making the score 7–4. Pinch-hitter Johnny Blanchard struck out. Linz hit another home run, pulling New York to within two, 7–5, but the next batter, Richardson, popped up to second baseman Dal Maxvill and the Cardinals won the Series.
Bob Gibson won the Series MVP award for his 2–1 record, 3.00 ERA, and 27 IP. Jim Bouton, pitching for the Yankees, started two games and won them both, compiling a 1.56 Series ERA. Six years later, he would write the classic baseball memoir, Ball Four. After the series, the Yankees fired manager Yogi Berra and replaced him with the Cardinal manager, Keane, who quit St. Louis due to his differences with Cardinal owner Gussie Busch. Yogi Berra would go on to join the New York Mets, the following season and be re-united with Casey Stengel as a player/coach.
The 1964 Cardinals were the only team between 1962 and 1972 to win the World Series when owning home-field advantage.
Game 7 was the last postseason game to be played at the first Busch Stadium, and the last such game to be played in St. Louis until 1967 (at Busch Memorial Stadium, which opened during the previous season), when the Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox to win their next world championship. The first non-World Series postseason games to be played in St. Louis occurred in 1982, when the Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS and the then-American League Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series. The Cardinals also ended their first season at the current Busch Stadium with a World Series win over the Detroit Tigers in 2006; the Yankees (then in their first season at the current Yankee Stadium) did the same thing in 2009 by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in that year's World Series.
1964 World Series (4–3): St. Louis Cardinals (N.L.) over New York Yankees (A.L.)