Even though it was only the first inning, Bobby Richardson expected to hear Casey Stengel’s signature phrase: “Hold that gun.” It meant that the Yankee manager wanted to use a pinch-hitter and that Richardson should get back in the dugout.
But it never came and Richardson knew why when he peered at third-base coach Frankie Crosetti, who flashed the bunt sign. Squeeze play? In the first inning? With one out and the bases loaded and the Yankees already ahead, 2-0, in Game 3 of the 1960 World Series? “Wow,” Richardson recalls thinking.
He’d only had 26 RBI the entire season, but he thought he’d get a chance to swing away against Clem Labine, who had already replaced Pittsburgh starter Vinegar Bend Mizell. “I tried to bunt and fouled it off and thought, ‘Surely they let me hit now,’” Richardson says in a telephone interview.
Bobby Richardson poses with bat after setting World Series record by driving in six runs against Pirates.
He fouled off the second try, too, meaning one more foul bunt would be a strikeout. So Crosetti yelled to him to try to hit the ball to the right side and perhaps stay out of a double play. Instead, Richardson swung into Fall Classic history.
He smacked a grand slam, en route to setting a record with six RBI in a World Series game, a mark that the Cubs’ Addison Russell matched Tuesday in Game 6 of the current Series. Richardson, Russell, Hideki Matsui and Albert Pujols are the only players who have knocked in that many runs in a Series game and Richardson, now 81, was the first.
Richardson pounced on, as he puts it, “a high, tight fastball from Labine. I hit it pretty good.” Running the bases, he saw Pirates’ left fielder Gino Cimoli looking into his glove and thought the ball had been caught. “Well,” Richardson remembers thinking, “at least we’ll score one run.”
Addison Russell of the Cubs equaled Richardon’s mark during Game 6 Tuesday night.
Instead, he had, at the time, only the seventh slam in Series history. When he got back to the dugout, Stengel remarked, “Good bunt.”
It may sound unusual for Richardson to wonder if he’d get pinch-hit for at that stage in a game, but there was precedent — Stengel had subbed for him early in the past. One time, Richardson groused and Stengel followed him into the dugout and told him to get his glove and go to the bullpen. He had to warm up the hard-throwing, notoriously-wild Ryne Duren.
“That was my punishment,” Richardson says, chuckling. But Richardson also praises Stengel for giving him a chance as a young player. Of course, Richardson delivered on that faith, becoming a seven-time All-Star.
And on Saturday, Oct. 8, 1960, in Game 3, he kept on delivering. In the fourth inning, Richardson came up with the bases loaded again. “I won’t say I tried to hit a home run, but I was thinking about it,” he admits. Richardson hit a two-run single instead, breaking the single-game RBI record that Mickey Mantle had tied when he had five in Game 2.
It was a highlight of what was a weird, losing Series for the Yanks — they were beaten by Bill Mazeroski’s Series-ending homer in Game 7. But, overall, they outscored the Pirates, 55-27, winning three games by rout — 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0. The Pirates won all the close ones, including the 10-9 finale.
Richardson set another record that still stands — 12 RBI in the Series — and he was named MVP. He hit .367 and slugged .667. He’s still the only player from the losing team to get the award.
Casey Stengel looks over his American League champs as they prep for the 1960 World Series.
“Records are made to be broken,” Richardson says of his RBI marks. “I can’t believe 12 RBI has stood ’til now. That record depends on how many men are on and it seemed like there were men on base every time I came up.”
Matsui tied Richardson’s single-game mark in Game 3 of the 2009 Series. He went on to be named Series MVP, too. The two men signed baseballs for each other commemorating their matched achievement at a memorabilia show both attended, Richardson says.
Pujols had six RBI in Game 3 in 2011, but Cardinals’ teammate David Freese ultimately won MVP.
The Yankees lost the 1960 World Series on Bill Mazeroski walk-off homer.
Who knows what awaits Russell in Wednesday night’s Game 7? He has eight RBI in the first six games and Richardson says he’s been watching. He’s tempted to root for the Indians, saying, “I’m an AL guy.” As the coach at the University of South Carolina years ago, he tried to recruit Terry Francona, the current Indians manager.
But the Cubs’ drought makes him want Chicago to win. Maybe watching Russell has done that, too.
“I’ve seen enough to know he’s got great talent,” Richardson says. “I like the way he hustles and I think he’s got a long, great career ahead of him.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News