Sunday, October 11, 1964 - World Series - Game 4 - St Louis Cardinals vs New York Yankees - At Yankee Stadium - Ray Sadecki vs Al Downing - Attendance: 66,312
The Cardinals were in desperate need for a win today, after losing a 2-1 heart-breaker to the Yankees in Saturday's Game 3 - although fifty years later, that doesn't seem like such a bad way to lose - on a Mickey Mantle walk-off home run off a Barney Schultz knuckle ball. It doesn't get much more iconic than that.
Iconic or not, the Bronx Bombers held a two games to one advantage over the upstart Cardinals in this best-of-seven Fall Classic, heading into Sunday's crucial Game 4. It had been eighteen years since the Cardinals had won a World Series championship. It had been eighteen years since they had even appeared in a World Series, for that matter.
The Yankees, on the other hand, had won ten world championships over that same time span. That seemed like enough, although New York apparently had a different point of view, as this game began like a Twilight Zone episode for the beleaguered Redbirds.
Ray Sadecki, the winning pitcher in Game One, didn't fare so well this time around. After the Cardinals went quietly in their first turn at bat against southpaw Al Downing, the Yankees began their half of the first with a bang. Phil Linz opened with a double. Then, with Bobby Richardson batting, Linz tried to steal third. Catcher Tim McCarver's throw was in time to nail Linz, but the normally sure-handed Ken Boyer - a nine-time Gold Glove winner - simply dropped the ball. With that, the floodgates opened.
Richardson followed with a double of his own - scoring Linz. Roger Maris then lined a single to right - temporarily advancing Richardson to third - who then scored when Mickey Mantle lined another single to right field. While Maris advanced to third on the hit, Mantle tried to stretch it into a double - unsuccessfully. A strong throw from Mike Shannon to second baseman Dal Maxvill recorded the first out of the inning - but if the Cardinals hoped to get two more outs to end this mess, an immediate pitching change was in order.
Manager Johnny Keane summoned Roger Craig in from the bullpen to face Elston Howard, who promptly singled to center - scoring Maris with the third run of the inning. Unbeknownst to anyone watching this game, that would prove to be the last run the Yankees would score in this one.
Craig then struck out Tom Tresh before retiring Joe Pepitone on a fly ball to right field, to finally end this madness.
In the meantime, the Cardinals could do nothing with Downing, who had blanked St Louis on just one hit through the first five innings. That all changed in the sixth-inning, however. Carl Warwick - pinch hitting for Roger Craig - singled to left. Curt Flood followed suit - putting runners on first and second for Lou Brock. But Lou was an easy out, on a fly ball to Mantle in center field. When Dick Groat hit a ground ball towards second baseman Bobby Richardson - a five-time Gold Glove winner -it seemed likely an inning-ending double play would ensue.
Instead, Richardson booted it.
With the bases now loaded, Ken Boyer - trying to atone for his error that facilitated a three-run first-inning rally for the Yankees - did some serious atoning with one swing of the bat.
Boyer's drive down the left field line refused to hook into foul territory - instead landing in the bleachers among the stunned partisan crowd, as a smiling Boyer circled the bases on what may have been the most significant postseason home run in St Louis Cardinals history. Suddenly, the Cardinals had a 4-3 lead - a lead they would not relinquish.
Journeyman reliever Ron Taylor kept the Yankees in check over the final four innings - allowing only a two-out eighth-inning walk to Mickey Mantle. There was no need for a setup guy to pitch the eighth-inning, because he was his own closer today - saving it for Roger Craig, who of course, saved the day for the Cardinals when they absolutely had to win this game.
The pitching lines tell the story:
IP H R ER BB SO
Sadecki 0.1 4 3 2 0 0
Craig (1-0) 4.2 2 0 0 3 8
Taylor S (1) 4.0 0 0 0 1 2
Boyer's clutch grand salami - along with the nearly flawless relief work from two unflappable veterans - evened the World Series at two games apiece. Otherwise, they would have been forced into an untenable three games to one deficit.
And that would have been no fun at all.