After dominating the American League the previous year, the Yankees hardly expected things to be so easy in 1962. Several players on the team had career years in that magical 1961 season, and the Yankees could not count on that happening again. Realizing the upcoming campaign was likely to be far more challenging, the Yankees made several additions to their roster during the off-season.
Firstly, New York promoted top prospect Tom Tresh from the minor leagues. The Yankees initially had the 23-year-old switch-hitter penciled in to play left field. However, with Tony Kubek spending all but the final seven weeks of the season in the Army, Tresh served as the team’s starting shortstop until Kubek returned. New York also called up first baseman Joe Pepitone, pitcher Jim Bouton, and infielder Phil Linz. The Yankees expected big things from Pepitone and Bouton, and they hoped Linz might be a key contributor as a utility infielder.
The team also acquired left-handed relief pitcher Marshall Bridges from the Cincinnati Reds. The 30-year-old Bridges had a poor year for the Reds in 1961, but he pitched extremely well for them the previous year, when he finished 4-0 with a 1.07 ERA.
The reinforcements the Yankees summoned helped them capture their third straight American League pennant by posting a regular-season record of 96-66. The Minnesota Twins provided the most serious challenge to New York, finishing five games back with a record of 91-71. The Yankees were again the league’s most well-balanced team, topping the circuit with 817 runs scored, while finishing second with a team ERA of 3.70.
New York’s starting rotation featured three of the league’s top pitchers. Ralph Terry led all A.L. hurlers with 23 victories and 299 innings pitched, while also compiling a 3.19 ERA. Whitey Ford finished 17-8 and placed among the league leaders with a 2.90 ERA and 258 innings pitched. Bill Stafford chipped in with 14 victories. Meanwhile, after assuming a spot in the starting rotation during the season’s second half, Jim Bouton posted seven wins. Luis Arroyo failed to duplicate his exceptional performance from one year earlier, finishing just 1-3, with a 4.81 ERA and only seven saves. However, Marshall Bridges picked up some of the slack, posting eight victories and finishing second in the league with 18 saves.
Though not as overpowering as it was the previous season, the Yankee offense remained the best in the American League. Elston Howard and Bill Skowron both had very solid years. Howard hit 21 home runs, drove in 91 runs, and batted .279. Skowron hit 23 homers, knocked in 80 runs, and batted .270. In addition to playing a stellar third base, Clete Boyer had his finest offensive season in pinstripes, hitting 18 homers, driving in 68 runs, scoring 85 others, and batting .272. Tom Tresh earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors by hitting 20 home runs, knocking in 93 runs, scoring 94 others, and batting .286. Although he didn’t come close to matching his record-setting performance from one year earlier, Roger Maris still managed to hit 33 homers and drive in 100 runs. Bobby Richardson had the finest season of his career, batting .302, placing among the league leaders with 99 runs scored and 38 doubles, and topping the circuit with 209 hits. He also won the second of five straight Gold Gloves for his outstanding defensive play at second base. Richardson’s exceptional year earned him a second-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting. Finishing just ahead of Richardson in the balloting was Mickey Mantle, who won his third trophy despite appearing in only 123 games and accumulating just 377 official at-bats. With opposing pitchers refusing to pitch to Mantle with men on base, he led the league with 122 walks and a .486 on-base percentage. Mantle also hit 30 home runs, knocked in 89 runs, scored 96 others, placed second in the league with a .321 batting average, topped the circuit with a .605 slugging percentage, and won the only Gold Glove of his career. Both Mantle and Richardson earned spots on the A.L. All-Star Team, along with teammates Maris, Tresh, Howard, Berra, and Terry. Mantle, Richardson, Tresh, and Terry were also named to The Sporting News All-Star squad.
Facing the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, the Yankees had a far more difficult time than they did in the previous year’s Fall Classic against Cincinnati. The teams split the first six games, with Game Six being postponed three times due to rain. After splitting their first two decisions in the Series, Ralph Terry and Jack Sanford matched up against each other for a third time in the decisive seventh contest. Terry got the best of Sanford in the classic pitcher’s duel, shutting out the Giants 1-0 on only four hits. The Series ended when Willie McCovey drove a vicious line drive right into the glove of Bobby Richardson at second base, with the tying and winning runs in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth inning.By Bob_Cohen
- 1962 World Series, Bill Skowron, Bill Stafford, Bobby Richardson, Clete Boyer, Elston Howard, Jack Sanford, Jim Bouton, Joe Pepitone, Luis Arroyo, Marshall Bridges, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Phil Linz, Ralph Terry, Roger Maris, San Francisco Giants, Tom Tresh, Tony Kubek, Whitey Ford, Willie McCovey