Growing up a Yankee fan I didn’t pay too much attention to the National League until September with the World Series approaching. The Yanks always seemed to be in it—1964 would be five in a row—so by September it was a good idea to check out who would be this year’s World Series foe. The 1964 pennant race for the Yankees was no picnic as they barely beat out the White Sox by one game. It was a similar down-to-the-wire fight for the Cardinals with their slugging lefty first basemen Bill White. White, who was a consistent .300, 20-homerun, 100-RBI-man for the Cardinals had an explosive second half in 1964 batting .338 with 72 RBI’s and always seemed to be in the middle of the Cardinals’ onslaught as they rallied to erase a 6½ game Philadelphia Phillies lead with twelve games to go. So, when St. Louis immerged as the National League pennant winners it was justifiable that us Yankee fans would be fearful of, not only the Cardinals’ dynamic first baseman, but their whole team. Ultimately Bill White had a disappointing World Series, but with the brilliant Bob Gibson leading the way, St. Louis won the 1964 World Series sending the once mighty Yankees into a decade’s long tailspin.
Ironically, as much as Bill White was a part of the Yankee decline, he became a big part of the Yankee revival when he joined the New York broadcast booth in 1971. He, along with his partners Frank Messer and Phil Rizzuto, gave Yankee listeners hours of enjoyment leading up to four World Series appearances for the revitalized Bronx Bombers.
Check out the link below for more about Bill White from an excellent posting by Ralph Wimbish of an article by Jon Rimmer in SB Nation’s Pinstripe Alley. The link includes Bill’s famous call of the dramatic Bucky Dent home run in the 1978 playoff game in Fenway Park which still gives me goose bumps.
The above stats are from Baseball Refence.com and the Baseball Almanac.
And check out my book Mickey Mantle’s Last Home Run.