MLB: If Ford Hadn't Started Game 6, the Yankees Might Have Won the 1960 WS

Harold FriendChief Writer IAugust 31, 2011

Charles Dillon Stengel
Charles Dillon Stengel

Casey Stengel was excoriated by the “experts” for not starting Whitey Ford in the opening game of the 1960 World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Surprisingly, the experts were right.

Art Ditmar, who was the New York Yankees top winner, going 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA and a 117ERA+, started the opener.

Ford had finished the season at 12-9 with a 3.08 ERA and a 116 ERA+.

The general consensus was that Ford, with all his World Series experience, should have been the opening game starter.

But not starting Ford wasn’t Stengel’s only error.

It is recognized that the speculation that follows is similar to the predestined hit.

With two outs, the runner on first is caught stealing to retire the side. The same batter leads off the next inning and hits a home run. Would he have hit a home run if the runner hadn’t attempted to steal or had stolen safely?

Ford started the third game. He pitched a shutout as the New York Yankees blasted the Pirates, 10-0 to take a two games to one lead in the Series.

The Pirates won the fourth and fifth games by scores of 3-2 and 5-2. The desperate Stengel started Ford in the sixth game on three days rest.

Ford pitched another shutout as the Yankees scored 12 runs.

What would have happened if Stengel saved Ford for the seventh game? Of course, that goes against the book because for the Yankees, there would be no seventh game if they lost the sixth game.

Bob Turley started the seventh game and lasted one inning. He was charged with three runs. Bill Stafford took over in the second inning. He was charged with one run in his one inning of work.

The Yankees were trailing, 4-0 when Bobby Shantz came in to pitch the third. He was extremely effective, holding the Pirates at bay as the Yankees pecked away. Going to the Pirates eighth, the Yankees led, 7-4.

The easy part is that seven runs would have been enough for Ford if he and not Bob Turley had started the seventh game. The Yankees finished the game with nine runs, but that is a minor point.

The difficult part is what would have happened if Turley had started the sixth game? Let’s assume that he would have been as ineffective in game six as he had been in game seven. Goodbye to Bob after he pitched one inning.

Let’s assume that Stafford came in and gave up a run as he did in the seventh game to bring the Pirates total to four runs after two innings.

Stengel brings in Bobby Shantz who works his four scoreless innings.

Going to the Pirates eighth, the Yankees had scored 12 runs.

Even if the bad luck still occurred (Tony Kubek being hit in the throat when Bill Virdon’s apparent double-play ground ball took a bad hop and hit him in the throat), a 12-4 lead would have been enough to withstand it better than a 7-4 lead.

Stengel was fired after the World Series, but it wasn't only for the World Series loss. The Yankees were afraid that Ralph Houk might jump ship to accept an offer to manage for another team.

Houk took over and we all know what happened in 1961.