Remembering the ’62 Classic on National Hat Day
Yesterday was National Hat Day–don’t ask me who comes up with these things–and that gives us an occasion to remember an interesting story about an old Yankees cap.
On a Tuesday afternoon at Candlestick Park the Yankees carried a 1-0 lead into the 9th inning of Game 7. The Bombers had taken the lead in the 5th when Bill Skowron scored from third after Tony Kubek grounded into a double play. Ralph Terry, in a masterpiece, had allowed just 2 hits over the previous 8 innings, but ran into trouble as the Giants attempted to stave off elimination. Matty Alou led off with a single, but Terry was resilient as he struck out Felipe Alou and Chuck Hiller. Down to their last gasp, the Giants sent Willie Mays to the plate who doubled to right, putting the tying and winning runs into scoring position for Willie McCovey, who had 1 of San Fran’s 4 hits. Terry, who in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series yielded the iconic home run to Bill Mazeroski, dealt to the Giants’ slugger who roped what for a moment looked like the winning hit. Bobby Richardson, who had moved to his left after McCovey had pulled a ball down the right field line, stuck his glove just over his left shoulder to snare the screaming liner and preserve the 1-0 Yankee victory and a 20th World Championship. However, what happened just prior to the final pitch of the 1962 Fall Classic is just as noteworthy.
When I spoke to Richardson over the phone several weeks ago he recalled the moments leading up to one of the most important defensive plays in Yankee history. “What I remember most is McCovey was up, Hiller was on 3rd, Mays was on 2nd and I walked over to 2nd to talk to Kubek,” recollected the 8-time All-Star. “We talked a lot. Kubek says to me, ‘I hope he doesn’t hit it to you!’ I asked, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because you already made one error.’ We both laughed.” He also remembered a strange request by a National League umpire standing near him. “The other thing I remember is right before the pitch the ump turned to me and asked for my hat for his little cousin. So I caught the ball and flipped the hat to him.” What shines through in this anecdote is more Richardson’s class than the umpire’s audacity, adding yet another interesting fragment to the annals of Yankee lore.