Two-thirds of the man’s wizardry wasn’t enough. Carl Yastrzemski’s arm was strong and his glove was sticky. But right hander Bob Gibson of the Cardinals silenced his bat four times, and the Red Sox lost the first game of the World Series, 2 to 1.
Today’s game will pit right hander Jim Lonborg, the 22 game winner of the Red Sox, against right hander Dick Hughes of the Cardinals, a 16 game winner. The weather forecast is cloudy, muggy, with a 30 percent chance of rain. There’s a 100 percent chance Fenway Park will be filled again for the second game at 1 o’clock.
Nobody walked off the field too afraid of the other guy after Wednesday’s game. And the 34,796 fans, who sat silently through most of the game, filed out of the ball park, accepting the defeat-but not feeling the Red Sox were overmatched.
The Cardinals’ speed was something that had been discussed for a long time. The winning run came on flying feet in the seventh inning, against Jose Santiago, who tied the game himself at 1-1 in the third with a home run into the left field net.
“It was a typical game for Gibson,” said Cardinals’ manager Red Schoendienst. “Thew hard for seven innings and then used more breaking pitches.
Santiago had a rather inconsistent game-not too unusual for him-but he dug out of holes, except the one in the seventh where Lou Brock got the fourth of his singles to open the inning.
Jose had put the opening man on four other times in the previous six innings, so there was no cause to worry too much. But when Brock broke for second and stole for the second time- although Rico Petrocelli put up a mild beef- Jose was in trouble.
Curt Flood then hit behind the runner, tapping a ground ball to George Scott at first base. Santiago was jamming Flood but the center fielder managed to cut the ball toward George and Flood was on third base with one out.
The infield had to be drawn in and Roger Maris, who pigeon-holed Babe Ruth’s home run mark when he was with the Yankees, hit a hard ground ball to Jerry’s Adair’s left at second base.
One yard more toward Jerry and the second baseman could have thrown to the plate. “But as the ball game to me,” said Adair later, “I knew that Brock had broken for the plate some on Jose’s full windup. When I put down my glove and got the ball and went to my left knee, I knew I had no chance.
I did take a look at the plate but it would have been foolish to throw home. He’s a deer and that was it, I guess.”
Not that Gibson didn’t pitch a better game than Santiago. “He was everything they said about him,” said Yastrzemski. “He had a good fast ball and a good breaking ball.
But we’ll see what happens,” he said. “There is no reason why we should be afraid of the Cardinals after that game.”
Carl hit a foul fly, a ground ball to the second baseman and two easy flies to the left field during the afternoon. It was the first time he had been handled so easily in 13 games. “I just tried to keep the ball away from him,” said Gibson. “He’s a great hitter.”
But Gibson wasn’t able to keep the ball away from Carl in the field, and his two defensive plays helped keep the game so close. In the fourth inning, Julian Javier singled over second base when Rico Petrocelli missed on a diving try for the ball.
When Javier broke for second, Dal Maxvill topped a grounder to Adair and Jerry’s only play was to first base. Gibson took a called third strike from Jose, bur Brock, who owned Jose, got the second of his singles.
The beauty of the play that was about to unfold was that this was a ground ball in the hole, and not a line drive toward Carl.
While the ball was bouncing its merry way, the speedy Javier was racing around third and heading for home. Carl brought his glove up in a swooping motion on a rather short hop and the chances looked slim for a putout at the plate.
The throw was near perfect, maybe a foot on the first base side and the one hop was about knee high to Russ Gibson. The Red Sox catcher nabbed the ball, swung his big mitt over, and Javier, who had tried to hook slide from the third base side, was out easily.
“I thought Gibson made a fine tag on the play,” said Carl, modestly. “it was a good throw, but the tag had to be made good, too.”
That ended the inning and when the next inning opened, Curt Flood hit a liner to left and found it was true what they say about Carl’s mucilaginous glove. The ball was streaking toward the wall with two base hit written on it.
Carl took a couple of fast steps, looked back to follow the flight of the ball, went give more strides, stuck up his glove, lost his cap and grabbed the ball in the webbing of his glove.
A bloop single by Maris followed the catch, so the importance of the catch was so obvious.
Jose was greeted by a single by Brock in the first inning and stole second base on Jose’s first pitch to Flood.
“I know I’m going to steal. They know I’m going to steal. So why not go on the first pitch?” said Brock later.
But Flood was called out on strikes, and after Maris walked, Orlando Cepeda, silenced at the bat like Carl, grounded to Dalton Jones at third; a step from the base, stepped on it for a force play and then doubled up Cepeda.
In the second inning, Mike Shannon hit a sidearm fast ball for a single with one out and Javier followed with a single. Maxvill walked, and Gibson grounded into a double play, Jones to Adair on to Gibson.
In the third inning, Brock singled (“I threw him all kinds of pitches and he hit them all,” said Santiago) and Flood doubled him to third. Maris grounded to Scott to score Brock and Cepeda fouled out. Tim McCarver was walked and Shannon this time popped to second base on a breaking ball.
Gibson had fanned five of the first eight men he faced when Jose came to bat in the third and Jose had two quick strikes thrown past him. But Gibson gave Santiago a real sucker pitch, a slow hanging curve, and Jose put it into the new for his second homer of the year.
“Gibson made two bad pitches all day,” said Schoendienst. “He threw that curve ball high to Santiago and he got a fast ball over the plate to Norm Sibern in the eight and Norm singled to center.”
There was life now when Elston Howard bunted Siebern’s pinch runner, Jose Tartabull, to second base. But Adair filed to center and Jones popped to the shortstop.
Gibson struck out 10 men, reminded some of the Red Sox of Joe Sparm and others of Earl Wilson.
“I threw hard for six or seven innings” said the bright right-hander. “And then I used more sliders and curve balls. The mound is a bit different than I’m used to. It seemed as though I wavered a few times out there and didn’t get my full leverage.
My ankle hurts a bit,” he said. “But I think it will be all right for my next game.”
He’s tough, but the red Sox will show up for their outing with the Cardinals and vice-versa. “I could have caught Jose’s Homer in St. Louis, and I could have caught George Scott’s double there,” said Flood later.
But the fact that Carl was stopped seemed to matter most.