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Ralph Terry, Yankee Hurler Redeemed by One Pitch, Dies at 86

Terry rebounded the next year, going 16-3 despite missing six weeks with a sore shoulder. But his postseason woes continued: Cincinnati’s only win against the Yankees in the 1961 World Series came off him.

For the pennant-winning Yankees of 1962, Terry went 23-12, the most wins for a Yankee right-hander since Waite Hoyt in 1928. But Jack Sanford of the Giants bested him with a three-hit shutout in the second game of that year’s Series, bringing Terry’s postseason record to 0-4. Only in the fifth game did he break his streak, beating the Giants and Sanford 5-3. And after a couple of rainouts, he was well rested for another Game 7, on Oct. 16, 1962.

Candlestick Park’s famous winds were blowing in; for Terry, who’d given up 40 home runs that year — still a team record — it was a blessing. As Don Larsen, who’d pitched the only perfect game in World Series history six years earlier, watched from the Giants bullpen, Terry mowed down the first 17 Giants he faced until Sanford collected a single. But the Yankees led 1-0 as the Giants batted in the bottom of the ninth.

Matty Alou led off with a bunt single. Terry struck out both Alou’s brother Felipe and Chuck Hiller, but then faced three future Hall of Famers. The first, Willie Mays, doubled to right; only Roger Maris’s quick relay kept Alou at third. Then came McCovey. And out came the Yankees manager, Ralph Houk.

Several pitchers, including Whitey Ford, had been warming up, but Houk stuck with his starter — and left it to him whether to walk the left-handed McCovey, who’d already homered off him in the Series and tripled earlier in the game, and, playing the percentages, pitch to the right-handed Orlando Cepeda.

Terry opted to pitch to McCovey. He’d learned his number, he thought — high and tight — and would work his spots. With a National League umpire behind the plate in a National League park, he knew he’d get no close calls, but he’d at least have a shot at getting him out. And he felt that Cepeda, hitless that day, was due. Terry feared that his second baseman, Richardson, was shading McCovey too close to first, but he said nothing.

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