July 9, 1961 – Rookie Rollie Sheldon pitched his second straight shutout blanking the Red Sox 3-0 in the opener before Boston snapped New York’s five-game winning streak with a 9-6 win. The Sunday doubleheader was witnessed by 47,875 at Yankee Stadium.
Roger Maris hit his 33rd home run of the season in the seventh to cap the scoring. Yogi Berra, who had a pair of doubles, and Elston Howard with three hits knocked in the other runs.
In the nightcap, Jackie Jenson drove in three runs and Chuck Schilling, Jim Pagliaroni and Carl Yastrzemski two apiece as Boston jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and held off the Bombers.
Jensen got the Sox going with a two-run single in the first. Boston made it 7-0 in the third on two-run singles by Schilling and Yaz and a sacrifice fly by Pagliaroni.
The Yanks closed to within 7-1 in the fifth on a Mickey Mantle triple. But Yaz, who had four singles in the game, and Jensen drove in runs in the sixth.
Bobby Richardson had three hits for the Yankees, including a three-run homer and an RBI single.
Rookie Don Schwall (7-2) got the win and Ralph Terry (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season.
The Yankees entered the first All-Star break with a 53-29 record, a half game behind the Detroit Tigers (55-30). Maris had 33 homers, 13 games ahead of Ruth’s 60 pace. Mantle had 29 homers and is two games behind Ruth.
BETTER DAYS: With baseball and life in general on hold during the coronavirus crisis, the SportsLifer will take a daily look at the 1961 Yankees as they captured the attention of sports fans everywhere. It was the year of the great home run race, as Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth into history. Hopefully the SportsLifer can provide some nostalgic entertainment for fans who are starving for baseball, past and present. Play ball!
1. Pressure’s on: Not buying all that pre-season hype about 2016 being the year of the Cubs. Sure, the Cubbies are loaded with young talent, and they did make it to the NLCS last year. But Chicago was swept by the Mets, stretching the futility another year. The Cubs last made the World Series in 1945, when Harry Truman was President. Joe Maddon is a good manager, but he’s not a miracle worker. Get to the World Series first Cubbies, then I’ll believe. After all, the Cubs have been rebuilding since 1908.
2. Hang it up, Peyton: You won the Super Bowl, you’re tied with brother Eli, it’s time to retire. Very few athletes get to go out on top. If you play another season, it can only end bad. Just ask Joe Namath, who finished with the Rams, or Johnny Unitas, who went to the Chargers.
3. Super Bowl leftovers: Only four players have won both a Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl MVP. Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard are the answer to this trivia question. BTW, there has been a least one turnover in every Super Bowl except for Super Bowl 25, when the Giants beat the Bills in the wide-right game.
4. Billy Ball: Mickey Mantle once said this when describing his fiery friend and former Yankee teammate Billy Martin: “Billy is the only guy in the world who can hear someone give him the finger.”
5. Comic genius: Is there a funnier pairing than Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau who play Felix and Oscar in Neil Simon’s 1968 film classic “The Odd Couple.”