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06/24/07 10:59 PM ET

Reunion triggers memories of '62 Series

Giants, Yankees alumni convene in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- The memories of the 1962 World Series between the Yankees and Giants are crystalized in the minds of the former players, and on Sunday, they sat around conjuring up memories of Game 7 as if it were played 45 days ago instead of 45 years.

On Sunday, 13 Giants and six Yankees from the '62 teams were at AT&T Park commemorating the 45th anniversary as the 2007 Giants closed out an Interleague series against the Yankees.

The old pros reminisced about Maris and Mantle, the Candlestick cold, but mostly they talked about how evenly matched the '62 World Series was. It all came down to Game 7, the game Joe DiMaggio called the greatest World Series game he had ever seen.

"This was special, it really was, because it came down to the last out," second baseman Bobby Richardson said, "and we made the catch."

Actually, it was Richardson who made the catch off a frozen-rope line drive from Willie McCovey's bat, and just like that, the Yankees won their 20th world championship.

But the game could have easily gone the other way. Had McCovey's hit been three inches over, or had Richardson not been standing in the shift spot he normally took for McCovey's at-bat, Matty Alou would undoubtedly have scored from third base.

The World Series opened with a 6-2 Yankees win and then the two teams proceeded to alternate wins until the Giants took Game 6, 5-2, forcing a grand finale. As if it couldn't get any more exciting, the series was then put on pause because of a rainstorm in San Francisco.

While the players were training out of town, Candlestick Park groundskeepers desperately tried to dry the field in any way possible. They brought in a helicopter to hover over the grass, and it's rumored they even tried to set the field on fire.

It took three days for the field to dry, and finally, everything was ready for Game 7.

The Yankees got off to a one-run lead in the fifth when Bill Skowron and Clete Boyer singled and starting pitcher Ralph Terry drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. The Giants got a break, though, with a double play. Skowron scored, but it would be the only run of the game.

Starting pitchers Terry, for the Yankees, and the Giants' Jack Sanford gave a fantastic duel. Both were making their third start of the Series, but Terry had been in this position before and he had something to prove.

"I had lost the seventh game in Pittsburgh two years earlier. I had to live with that for those years, and a lot of guys have a bad loss and never get a second chance," Terry said. "I was just thankful for that chance, win or lose, and it was probably the best game I ever pitched."

Terry needed only five pitches to warm up and then proceeded to pitch a perfect game until the sixth. He shut out the Giants and gave up only two hits until the ninth.

Alou opened the nail-biting bottom of the ninth with a drag-bunt single. Terry struck out the next two batters, then Willie Mays stepped to the plate and blasted a double down the right-field line.

That would have been it, but Roger Maris quickly cut down the ball in right field and relayed to Richardson, forcing Alou to hold up at third.

Next up was McCovey.

With Orlando Cepeda on deck, Yankees manager Ralph Houk came out to the mound to talk with Terry. Everyone, including McCovey, assumed Houk was telling Terry to walk the left-handed McCovey to bring up a righty.

"I think if I had been pitching to him, I would have walked him," Richardson said.

But Terry said Houk just went out there to see how he was doing and asked him what he wanted to do. Terry told Houk he would pitch around McCovey, and if he needed to, he would put him on. This was bold, considering McCovey had already hit a triple off Terry earlier that day and a home run off Terry in Game 2.

But Terry went after him anyway, and McCovey went after Terry and got him on a 1-1 pitch. The hit looked like it was good enough to win the game. Most of the players thought it was.

Richardson was in the right place, though, and he caught it on his shoetops.

But there was no bitterness about Richardson's catch at the reunion Sunday. It was a great catch, and most everyone agreed that they had never seen a harder-hit ball. Richardson was just standing right there.

"I always said there shouldn't have been a winner in that series. It was so close," Terry said. "It could have been called a draw."

Becky Regan is an associate reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.