On October 8, 1960, the World Series returned to Yankee Stadium after a hiatus of two years, minus one day. With the Series tied at one game each, the Pirates turned to left-hander Wilmer Mizell.
“Vinegar Bend,” as Mizell was known after his Alabama birthplace, was a capable pitcher, but not in the class of Vern Law and Bob Friend, who had started the first two games. Like Friend, though, Mizell would have a post-baseball career in Republican politics. He served in Congress as the representative of North Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District from 1969-1975, and then in the Ford and Reagan administrations.
On this day, though, Mizell didn’t make it out of the first inning. Pirate skipper Danny Murtaugh pulled him with one out after he had given up three singles and walk. Murtaugh probably regretted the quick hook after Clem Labine proceeded to give up two singles, a walk and a home run. By the end of the inning, the Yankees had a 6-0 lead.
By contrast, Yankee starter Whitey Ford was virtually untouchable, pitching a four-hit shut-out and walking only one batter. The final score was 10-0.
As in Game 2, the Yankee hitting stars were Bobby Richardson and Mickey Mantle. Both homered, and between them they knocked in eight of the ten New York runs. Richardson, who had only 45 RBIs during the regular season, had six on the day. Mantle also contributed four hits.
The only question I have about this open and shut game is why Casey Stengel waited until Game 3 to use his best pitcher. It wasn’t a matter of necessity; the Yanks clinched the pennant fairly early, so Stengel could have set up the World Series rotation any way he wanted. He chose to give Ford two innings of relief work in the meaningless season finale on Sunday, Oct. 1, presumably with the intention of holding Ford back until Game 3 on Saturday.
But why? Perhaps Stengel didn’t consider Ford his ace for purposes of this World Series. His record in 1960 was subpar for him (12-9, 3.09). The Game 1 and 2 pitchers, Art Ditmar and Bob Turley, had pitched about that well during the regular season.
Moreover, Pirate right-handed hitters feasted on left-handed pitching (.306/.359/.446) and Murtaugh usually started seven right-handed-hitting position players against lefties. So Stengel might have fancied Ditmar and Turley as his best bets in this series.
As it turned out, though, Turley was mediocre and Ditmar abysmal. Meanwhile, Ford pitched two complete game shut-outs.
Did the pitching order make a difference? It’s doubtful that, even if Ford had pitched the opener, Stengel would have had him make three starts. From the mid-1950s on, Stengel favored using a four-starter rotation in the World Series. He had started Ford three times in the 1958 Series, but not to great effect.
But if Ford had started Games 1 and 4, or even 1 and 5, he would have been available to pitch relief in Game 7 (assuming there had been a Game 7 in that scenario). In Game 7, Yankee relievers gave up seven runs in seven innings, and failed to make the nine runs scored by New York hold up.
In the end, how Stengel must have wished that Ford, who had worked nine innings the previous day, could have pitched in Game 7.
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