The San Francisco Giants might win the 2010 National League pennant, and if they do, they might meet the New York Yankees in the World Series.
On the weekend of June 7, 2002,at Yankee Stadium, the Giants and Yankees played each other for the first time in a meaningful game since Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson to end the 1962 World Series.
Forty years later, many of the principals remembered vividly the final inning of the final game.
Felipe Alou, who was the Giants’ lead off hitter and right fielder in the seventh game, was still upset.
“That’s something that’s going to die with me. I didn’t do my job. That was the lowest point of my life. It was the kind of thing that’s engraved on your life, your mind and your heart.”
The Giants trailed Ralph Terry and the Yankees, 1-0. Alvin Dark sent Matty Alou, Felipe’s younger brother, in to pinch-hit for pitcher Billy O’Dell.
Alou hit a foul pop fly near the Giants’ dugout. Catcher Elston Howard thought that he had it for the first out, but the ball popped out of his glove.
Ellie was extremely upset. He later said “Somebody bumped me on the shoulder.”
The dugouts at Candlestick Park were walk-in dugouts. Ellie said that the Giants told him they were trying to make sure he didn’t fall. He thought either Bob Nieman or Alvin Dark was his “helper.”
Matty Alou had a second chance, which he didn’t waste. Matty beat out a drag bunt between the mound and first base, bringing up Felipe.
One of Casey Stengel’s strengths was that he never asked a player to do something the player couldn’t do. Alvin Dark was no Casey Stengel.
“I was asked to sacrifice him over. I don’t think I had been asked all year to sacrifice. The first one went foul. The wind was blowing so hard, it blew it foul.”
Dark then had Alou swing away, and he struck out.
Harvey Kuenn also struck out. Alou was still on first, but now there were two outs. Willie was the Giants’ last hope.
In his first at bat during the regular season, Willie hit a home run. This was going to be his last at bat of the season.
Forty years later, Ralph Terry described facing Willie.
“I was trying to pitch him inside. The way the wind was blowing, if he gets it up, it’s gone. But I threw ball one and ball two inside. I can’t keep pitching in there all day, so I went low and away. Willie threw his arms out and hit the ball to right field.”
Roger Maris cut the ball off before it reached the wall to hold Alou at third as Willie moved into second with the potential winning run.
Willie McCovey always said that Bobby Richardson was playing out of position.
“I mostly blame Richardson for playing me out of position. No second baseman ever played me that close to second base because I was a dead pull hitter. When I hit a ball in that direction, I figure it’s a base hit.
I’m up in the spot I want to be in. I cherish being up in that spot. I dreamed about it as a kid. But the results were different from what I dreamed about.
Ralph Terry, given a second chance after giving up Bill Mazeroski’s home run in 1960, was a winner.
Willie McCovey, never had a second chance, but he was as much a winner as Terry or anyone else who ever played the game.
Willie was never afraid.
MURRAY CHASS. (2002, June 7). BASEBALL :A Final Out That Continued for 40 Years. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. D6. Retrieved August 14, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 727150152).