This day in baseball history — the Giants pull even with the Yankees

On Friday October 5, 1962, Jack Sanford shut out the New York Yankees, and the San Francisco Giants evened the World Series with a 2-0 victory at Candlestick Park. Sanford hurled a 3-hit masterpiece.

The Giants scored a run off of Yankee started Ralph Terry in the first inning on a double by Chuck Hiller, a sacrifice bunt by Felipe Alou, and an RBI ground out by Felipe’s brother Matty. Playing for one run in the first inning isn’t a recommended strategy, but in this case it provided Sanford with the only run he needed. However, the Giants added on more in the seventh on a monstrous home run by Willie McCovey.

Heading into the Series, the Giants had reason to feel good about their chances. Over the course of the 162-game season, they played better baseball than the Yankees. The Giants won 101 games; the Yankees 96. The Giants outscored their opponents by 177 runs; the Yankees outscored theirs by 137. And the Giants played better opponents. The National League was almost certainly superior to the American League in 1962.

But the Yankees also had reason to feel confident. Mickey Mantle had missed a month of the season and had played hurt thereafter (yet he still managed to win the AL MVP award). Now Mantle was surging. In September, he raised his batting average by 19 points and his slugging percentage by 23.

Moreover, the Yankees had a wealth of playoff experience, having participated in 4 of the previous 5 World Series. In fact, they had played in 8 of the ten Series since the Yankees and Giants faced off in 1951 (the Yanks won that Series in 6 games). The Giants had returned to the Fall Classic only once since then. Two current Yankees had played in the 1951 Series – Mantle and Yogi Berra (Whitey Ford had been on the roster during part of the regular season). Willie Mays remained from the ’51 Giants (Alvin Dark, now the manager, had played in the ’51 Series, as well).

Finally, the Giants were coming off of a hellacious playoff series with the Dodgers. As a result, San Francisco’s pitching staff was exhausted.

The best Dark could do on for a Game 1 starter on Thursday was Billy O’Dell, who had pitched in relief on Tuesday. O’Dell had only faced four batters (and retired none). But his ineffectiveness in the appearance had something to do with the fact that he had also pitched seven innings on Sunday.

With the Yankees starting a rested Whitey Ford, Dark seemed basically to be asking O’Dell to take one for the team. Yet O’Dell hung in there with Ford. Through six innings, the teams were tied 2-2.

In the top of the seventh inning, Clete Boyer led off with a home run, but O’Dell retired the next three Yankees. However, the eighth inning proved a bridge too far for the tiring southpaw. Mantle flied out to lead off. But then Roger Maris singled, O’Dell hit Elston Howard with a pitch, and Dale Long singled home Maris with Howard taking third.

With Boyer up next, Dark lifted O’Dell in favor of ex-Yankee Don Larsen. Boyer hit a pop fly to shallow left field. Giants shortstop Jose Pagan caught the pop-up, but Howard alertly tagged up at third and raced home with run number five.

The Yankees then cruised to a 6-2 win.

On Friday, Dark was compelled to call on Jack Sanford, who had pitched 5 innings on Tuesday before being pulled due to being “pooped,” in Dark’s word, as the result of a cold. Sanford had also pitched five-plus innings on Saturday.

Yet, as noted, he was able to limit the powerful Yankees to no runs and 3 hits to even the Series at one game apiece. The Giants now would finally get a day off before the Series resumed in New York on Sunday.