Friday, October 22, 2010
Vintage Fridays: Hoyt Wilhelm, 1960 Topps #115
In May 2009, I told you about ageless knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm's run of dominance against New York. I'll elaborate now by giving you his career numbers vs. the Yanks, which are almost as impressive. Hoyt faced the Bronx Bombers 75 times in all, including 13 starts. He won only 9 of 20 decisions, but totaled six complete games and three shutouts. He racked up 209.1 innings, his most against any opponent, yet his 1.98 ERA and 1.01 WHIP against the Yankees were lower than his marks against almost any other club. In 67 career meetings with Mickey Mantle, he frustrated the slugger to the tune of a .192 average and .327 slugging percentage. Other New Yorkers that Wilhelm handled easily include Bobby Richardson (.403 OPS), Elston Howard (.371 OPS), Tony Kubek (.446 OPS), Tom Tresh (.250 SLG), and Roger Maris (.154 AVG). So it's safe to say that the old knuckler wasn't easily intimidated.
Roy Face never actually faced the Yankees in the regular season, as all but two of his career games were as a National Leaguer. However, he played a prominent role in one of New York's most memorable postseason series defeats. In the 1960 World Series, Face's Pirates squeaked by the Yanks in seven games despite being outscored 55-27 overall. As you may have guessed, they prevailed in some tight games, and leaned heavily on their relief ace to do it:
-In Game One, he relieved Vern Law in the eighth inning with Pittsburgh ahead 6-2. He stranded two inherited runners, but surrendered a two-run homer to Elston Howard in the ninth. Tony Kubek followed with a single to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Hector Lopez. Face coaxed a game-ending double play ball to earn the save. The Yankees blew out the Pirates in the next two games, but the Bucs clung to a lead in the seventh inning of Game Four. Law ran into trouble again, and Roy got the call with one out and the go-ahead runs on base. He set down the final eight batters for another save. The next day was nearly the same situation. 4-2 Pirates in the seventh, Harvey Haddix puts two runners on with one out, Face is summoned, allows only a walk in 2.2 scoreless, save number three. New York romped again in Game Six to set up a winner-take-all Game Seven. For the third time, Face was called upon to preserve a Vern Law lead. This time it was the sixth, and Pitt led 4-1 with two on and none out. This time he was not sharp, surrendering the lead via a Mickey Mantle single and a three-run Yogi Berra homer. He got through the seventh unscathed, but was touched up for two more runs in the eighth and left his team in a 7-4 hole. You probably know what happened next. Five-run Pirates rally, Yanks fight back to tie it, Bill Mazeroski walks 'em off in the bottom of the ninth. The Bucco bats really let Face off the hook, so all is well that ends well.
Up-to-the-moment status: 5-1 Rangers after six. Cautiously optimistic.