50 Years of the San Francisco Giants - 1962

The All-Star game the previous season was nice, but the 1962 Giants and their fans in San Francisco wanted to host baseball's ultimate party. They got their wish, and a heck of a fairytale season that was almost capped by a World Series happy ending.


Record: 103-62 (1st, National League)
Ballpark: Candlestick Park
Manager: Alvin Dark
All-Stars (5): Felipe Alou, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Davenport, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays
Awards: NL Gold Glove – Jim Davenport, Willie Mays

Finally, in 1962 fans by the Bay could repeat the phrase made famous by Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges nearly a decade earlier in New York – "the Giants win the pennant!"  It took them five tries and a few near misses on the west coast, but the San Francisco Giants finally came up big down the stretch to claim supremacy in the National League.

The 1962 Opening Day Lineup:

  1. Harvey Kuenn LF
  2. Jose Pagan SS
  3. Willie Mays CF
  4. Orlando Cepeda 1B
  5. Felipe Alou RF
  6. Ed Bailey C
  7. Jim Davenport 3B
  8. Chuck Hiller SS
  9. Juan Marichal P

Unlike 1961, manager Alvin Dark stuck to using his regulars for the majority of the time, with few exceptions.  Noticeably absent from this Opening Day lineup was youngster Willie McCovey, who was initially used sparingly in both the outfield and first base.  And Bailey would go on to split time with last year's Opening Day backstop, Tom Haller.  The roster was otherwise the same for most of the season – Cepeda, Mays, and Pagan all played in 162 or more games – with Dark deftly moving players up and down the batting order.

Dark probably kept the same lineup intact because of its resounding success.  The '62 team led the NL in many offensive categories, including runs scored (5.32 per game), home runs (204, 23 more than the next team), and batting average (.278).  Mays had one of his most stellar seasons (.304/49/141, leading the majors in home runs), narrowly finishing runner-up to Los Angeles Dodgers speedster Maury Wills (a catcher-infuriating 104 SB!).  Cepeda (.306/35/114) was no slouch himself, and Felipe Alou (.316/25/98) had one of his best seasons ever – to the extent that Dark batted him third for a stretch towards the end of the season.  And even in limited action McCovey belted 20 home runs while batting .293.

A 24-year old Marichal (18-11, 3.36) started the first game of the season and was beginning to find his way as a sometimes-dominant starter.  However, 1962 was Jack Sanford's year.  The veteran righty had the year of his life, winning 16 consecutive games at one point, and finished with a sparkling 24-7 record and runner-up to Don Drysdale (25-9, 2.83) for the Cy Young award.  Also having outstanding seasons were the two Billys – O'Dell (19-14, 3.53) and Pierce (16-6, 3.49).  The lone starter who had a down year was young lefty Mike McCormick, who went from 13-16, 3.20 in 1961 to 5-5, 5.38, and despite his potential was traded at the end of the season.

Mays and Sanford may have both finished runner-up to Dodger standouts for season-ending awards, but it was the boys in blue who would narrowly finish the season as also-rans to the orange and black in 1962.  The Giants started out hot, winning their first five games of the season followed by a 10-game winning streak in late April and early May that catapulted them into first place, where they stayed entrenched until early June.  This initial stretch included some absolutely dominant games – such as a 6-0 victory over the Milwaukee Braves on Opening Day, a 19-8 out-clubbing of the Dodgers on April 16, and consecutive shutouts of the Chicago Cubs 7-0 and 6-0 during a doubleheader on April 29 – and a 14-2 record at Candlestick Park.

A six-game losing streak on the road in early June coupled by a 13-game winning streak by the Dodgers temporarily put the Giants in second place behind Los Angeles.  From here on out, it was a two-team dogfight at the top – the Giants won five in a row in late June to reclaim first; the Dodgers countered with seven in a row in early July to take it right back.  A split of a four-game head-to-head series at Candlestick Park during July 5-8 did nothing to separate them, but the Dodgers followed up this series with a 17-5 stretch to go 5 ½ games up on the Giants heading into August.  This set up a crucial three-game series between the ballclubs at Candlestick Park during August 10-12 in which the Dodgers could have buried the Giants; however the Giants swept the series by a combined score of 21-7 to stay alive.

Still, the Giants wouldn't taste first place again until the final game of the season – and narrowly at that.  Trailing by a game heading into Sunday, September 30, the Giants defeated the expansion Houston Colt .45s 2-1 at home, while the Dodgers continued their futility down the stretch by losing 1-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals at their new Dodgers Stadium, thereby ending the regular season on a 3-10 streak and losing their final four games.  The two teams ended the regular season with identical 101-61 records, which meant that they would play a three-game playoff, just like they did in "the Giants win the pennant" season of '51.  Game 1 continued the Dodgers' losing ways with an emphatic 8-0 victory at Candlestick Park, with Billy Pierce out-dueling Sandy Koufax.  Hosting the next two games, the Dodgers narrowly won Game 2 by a score of 8-7, but in Game 3 the Giants emerged victorious with a come-from-behind 4-run rally in the ninth to stun the Dodgers and win the ballgame 6-4, with former Dodgers hero Don Larsen (he of the perfect game in the 1956 World Series) picking up the victory for the Giants in relief.

The Giants had no time at all to savor their NL pennant, however, as the World Series started the very next day.  All that was standing in their way of a world championship were Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and the New York Yankees, last year's champs.  This seven-game series was an evenly contested one.  In Game 1, the Giants finally stopped Yankee starter Whitey Ford's then-record 33 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings streak in World Series play, but the Yankees rallied late to break a 2-2 tie and emerged with a 6-2 victory at Candlestick Park.  In Game 2, Jack Sanford started a scoreless streak of his own by shutting out the Yankees 2-0, with one of those runs coming from the booming bat of Willie McCovey, who hit a towering home run off of losing pitcher Ralph Terry.

Games 3, 4, and 5 moved over to the House that Ruth Built, and though the Giants outscored the Yankees 12-11 in the three games, the Yanks won two out of three.  Game 3 was a pitchers' duel until New York opened the scoring by crossing the plate three times in the bottom of the seventh against Billy Pierce.  Ed Bailey's two-run home run with two outs in the ninth made it a closer game, but the Giants came up short 3-2.  San Francisco boomed back in Game 4 with home runs by Tom Haller and Chuck Hiller – with Hiller's grand slam in the top of the seventh inning being the first NL grand slam in World Series history – to take the game 7-3 and even the Series at two games apiece.  The Yankees rebounded with a loud home run of their own – Tom Tresh's three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth – to win Game 5 by a score of 5-3 and take a 3-2 advantage heading back to San Francisco.

Game 6 was played four days later on October 15 at Candlestick Park, delayed due to rain.  Upon resumption of play, the Giants washed out Ford and the Yankees pitchers by breaking out ten hits in a 5-2 victory, with Pierce hurling a complete game three-hitter.  This set the stage for the deciding Game 7, a classic pitchers duel between Jack Sanford and Ralph Terry in which the only run of the game was scored on a double play groudout.  Unfortunately for the Giants, that run was scored by the Yankees in the fifth inning, and Terry pitched masterfully for New York – but not without a great deal of drama in the final inning.  Up 1-0, Terry allowed a leadoff bunt single by pinch-hitter Matty Alou, but then struck out both his brother Felipe Alou and Chuck Hiller.  But with two outs, Willie Mays hit a double down the right field line which would have scored Alou if not for the arm of Roger Maris, who hit cutoff man Bobby Richardson and forced Matty Alou to stay at third.  Thus with the Matty Alou as the tying run at third and Mays the winning run at second, Willie McCovey stepped up to the plate against the Yankee righty.  Terry elected to pitch to Stretch rather than load the bases and face Orlando Cepeda, and what happened next was the exact opposite of what happened between Mariano Rivera and Luis Gonzales 39 years later – Terry jammed McCovey with an inside pitch, and McCovey hit the ball hard but lined out to second baseman Richardson to end the game and the series.

Yes, the 1962 World Series may have ended in heartbreak for the Giants, but what a miraculous journey it was – the summer duel with the Dodgers, the dramatic regular season finish and playoff victory, and a season-long display of offensive and pitching prowess.  Marichal and McCovey were only getting their feet wet, and most of the roster would return next season for another try at greatness.

The complete 1962 roster:

#2 Joe Pignatano
#5 Tom Haller
#6 Ed Bailey
#7 Harvey Kuenn
#12 Jim Davenport
#14 Carl Boles
#14 Dick Phillips
#15 Jose Pagan
#17 Cap Peterson
#18 Don Larsen
#19 Billy Pierce
#20 Bob Nieman
#21 Ernie Bowman
#22 Gaylord Perry
#23 Felipe Alou
#24 Willie Mays
#26 Chuck Hiller
#27 Juan Marichal
#28 Bob Garibaldi
#28 Gaylord Perry
#30 Orlando Cepeda
#31 Billy O'Dell
#33 Jack Sanford
#34 John Orsino
#37 Stu Miller
#38 Manny Mota
#39 Dick LeMay
#40 Mike McCormick
#41 Matty Alou
#42 Bobby Bolin
#44 Willie McCovey
#45 Jim Duffalo

Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at dongsoo411@yahoo.com to commiserate, cheer, and complain.

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