How odd but wonderful it is that the Yanks and their fans can celebrate the birthdays of Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford (1928), the “Chairman of the Board,” on back-to-back days. The recently deceased Ford’s 236-106 record computes to the best winning percentage in the 20th Century, he holds the record at 10 World Series game victories, and Whitey’s 33-inning consecutive-scoreless-inning streak in the World Series that surpassed the one Babe Ruth had posted is still intact. In 1961 he won the Cy Young Award and was the Series MVP. He topped the League in wins three times, in win/loss percentage three times, and in innings pitched twice.
The Yanks went a long way toward winning the Subway Series against the Mets when they came out on top in Game One, 4-3, in 12 innings on October 21, 2000. Paul O’Neill coaxed a 10-pitch walk off Armando Benitez to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and scored the run that tied it on Chuck Knoblauch‘s sac fly. The Yanks prevailed when Jose Vizcaino knocked in Tino Martinez with the game-winner. It was in this game that Timo Perez failed to run on what he assumed was a Todd Zeile home run, and he was pegged out at home on yet another terrific Derek Jeter postseason play.
The Yanks closed out the Padres in four straight in 1998, when they won 3-0 behind Andy Pettitte on October 21. Scott Brosius was named the Series MVP. In a rarity, Yankee closer Mariano Rivera came to bat in the ninth inning after having relieved in the eighth, and popped out to second.
The Yanks fell behind two to none in games when Greg Maddux beat them in the Bronx 4-0 on October 21, 1996. Little did the Braves know that they had just won their last game of that postseason.
Bob Watson was the hitting star, and Goose Gossage got his second save in a row, as the Yanks took Game Two of the 1981 World Series against the Dodgers behind Tommy John, 3-0, on October 21. Watson had two hits and an rbi. The Yankees would lose the next four.
One of the best World Series games occurred in Game Six of the 1975 Classic between the Reds and the Red Sox. Bernie Carbo tied Cincinnati with a three-run, eighth-inning homer, and Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk “englished” his 12th-inning homer to left fair to even the Series at three games apiece on October 21.
The Reds’ 7-2 win on this day in 1976 closed out their Series sweep over the Yankees. Johnny Bench was the World Series MVP, but Yankee catcher Thurman Munson set a record with six straight singles and batted higher than .500 over the four games.
In the Yanks’ October 21, 2001, ALCS tilt with the Mariners in New York, Bret Boone and Bernie Williams traded singleton eighth-inning taters to break up a scoreless duel, setting up Alfonso Soriano’s two-run walk-off in the bottom of the ninth.
The Yanks made a bad trade on October 21, 1981, sending speedy minor league outfielder Willie McGee to St. Louis for pitcher Bob Sykes. Sykes succumbed to injury almost immediately, and McGee had a fine career in the Cardinals’ outfield.
Ex-Yankee catcher Elston Howard, who had been traded to Boston early in ’67, retired from baseball on October 21, 1968, after having played two seasons in Beantown.
Among those accompanying Whitey Ford on the Yankee October 21 birthday list are pitcher Bill Bevens (1916), whose only big-leagues time was for the 1944-1947 Yanks, with whom he posted a 40-36 mark; and John Flaherty (1967), the Yankee backup backstop for three years, who had an 80-homer, 395-rbi career over 14 seasons; Flash cleared 12 fences and drove in 41 runs with the Yanks.