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This day in baseball history — a classic pitching matchup aborted

On October 8, 1962, the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees played Game 4 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees took a 2 games to 1 lead into the contest.

The pitching matchup featured two future Hall of Famers, young Juan Marichal (18-11, 3.35) and veteran Whitey Ford (17-8, 2.90). This was the first matchup of Hall of Famers since 1958, when Ford and Warren Spahn squared off three times.

The Giants opened the scoring in the second inning when catcher Tom Haller hit a two-run homer off of Ford. Haller had completed a strong season at the plate, but mostly against right-handed pitchers. Against lefties, he batted only .183. Yet, on this day, he delivered against one of the great southpaws of all time.

Marichal was almost unhittable through four innings. But in the top of the fifth, he hurt his hand while batting and couldn’t continue of the mound.

Bobby Bolin replaced Marichal. He managed narrowly to escape damage in the fifth inning, but the Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the sixth. After striking out Tom Tresh, Bolin walked Mantle and Maris. Elson Howard flied out, but back-to-back singles by Bill Skowron and Clete Boyer brought in first Mantle and then Maris.

Whitey Ford was next up, with the score tied and runners on first and third with two out. Yankee manager Ralph Houk decided to go for broke. He sent up Yogi Berra to bat for Ford. Berra would face his old battery mate Don Larsen, who had come on for Bolin.

Larsen walked Berra to load the bases. Then, he retired Tony Kubek on a ground ball to first base.

Ford had pitched well (two runs on five hits in six innings). Now it would be up to Jim Coates (7-6 4.42), a goat in Game 7 of the 1960 Series. Coates, though, pitched four innings of shut out relief in Game 4 the next year. All told, he was a veteran of 4 World Series games.

In the top of the seventh, the Giants jumped on Coates. Jim Davenport walked to lead off. Then, with one out, Matty Alou (batting for Jose Pagan) doubled Davenport to third base. Ed Bailey batted for Larsen. Houk pulled Coates and brought on southpaw Marshall Bridges to face the left-handed hitting Bailey. Alvin Dark countered by sending up veteran right-handed hitter Bob Nieman to replace Bailey.

First base was open, and Houk had Bridges walk Nieman intentionally. This set up the double play but brought Harvey Kuenn to the plate. Kuenn had hit .323 against left-handers during the regular season. But Bridges got Kuenn to pop up.

Now he just needed to retire Chuck Hiller, a left-handed hitter who had batted only .238 with one home run against lefty pitchers on the season. Confounding the percentages, Hiller lit up Bridges for a grand slam home run, the first ever by an National Leaguer in World Series play. Giants 6, Yankees 2.

The Giants added a run in the top of the ninth. Hiller again was responsible, this time via a two out single that drove in Matty Alou. Again, Bridges was the victim.

The Yankees rallied with two out in the bottom of the ninth against Billy O’Dell, who had come on for Larsen in the seventh inning. Consecutive singles by Kubek, Bobby Richardson, and Tresh made it 7-3 with two runners on for Mickey Mantle. However, Mantle could only manage a game ending grounder to shortstop. Mantle was now 2-15 for the Series.

Larsen picked up the win, though he had pitched only one-third of an inning. Larsen’s victory came six years to the day after his perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 Series. On this day, he retired one and walked one.

The Series was tied at two games apiece, with Game 5 scheduled for the following day in New York. It would feature Jack Sanford against Ralph Terry, a rematch of Game 2, in which Sanford bested Terry 2-0.

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