On Sunday, October 7, 1962, the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees played Game 3 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. The pitching matchup was Billy Pierce (16-6, 3.49) against Bill Stafford (14-9, 3.67).
For the 35-year old Pierce, this was a long awaited opportunity to start a World Series game. In the 1959 Series, Chicago White Sox manager Al Lopez had limited his long-time ace to relief appearances. By contrast, Stafford, just 23 years old, had started and won Game 3 of the 1961 Series.
Pierce was coming off of a brilliant performance in the playoff series against the Dodgers. He won the first game on a three hit shutout and then saved the decisive Game 3 by setting the Dodgers down one-two-three in the ninth inning.
In this Game 3, Pierce continued his all but unhittable ways. Through six innings, New York could muster only two hits and no runs. But Stafford had been just as tough, limiting San Francisco to one hit and a pair of walks.
Stafford continued to baffle the Giants in the seventh inning, setting them down in order without a ball leaving the infield. But it all came apart for Pierce and the Giants in bottom of the inning.
The first three Yankee batters – Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris – singled. Both Tresh and Mantle scored on Maris’ hit, thanks to error by Willie Mc Covey in right field. Maris took second on the error.
That was it for Pierce. With three right-handed hitters in a row due up, Don Larsen, a right-hander, replaced the tiring southpaw.
Larsen retired Elston Howard on a fly ball to deep center field, but Maris tagged up and made it to third base. Larsen then plunked his former teammate Bill Skowron. This set up the double play with one out and Larsen induced a ground ball to shortstop from Clete Boyer. However, Boyer beat the relay throw from second base, allowing Maris to score an run. New York 3, San Francisco 0.
Pagan singled to lead off the eighth inning. However, Stafford retired the Alou Brothers and Chuck Hiller to keep the score at 3-0, and so it remained heading into the ninth.
Three outs from defeat, the Giants finally broke through against Stafford. Willie Mays led off with a double. Stafford then retired McCovey and Orlando Cepeda (like Mays, both future Hall of Famers). But Ed Bailey homered to make it 3-2. That brought the dangerous Jim Davenport to the plate. With the bases clear and two out, Yankee manager Ralph Houk elected to stay with Stafford, who still had allowed only four hits. Jim Davenport flied out to end the game.
Up 2 games to 1, and with the great Whitey Ford set to pitch on Monday, the Yankees now clearly held the upper hand.