67 years ago, the Cardinals, Red Sox and Boo
The St. Louis Cardinals play the Boston Red Sox in Game One of the 2013 World Series tonight at Fenway Park in Boston. Watching, at home in Cleveland, will be 91-year-old Boo Ferriss.
We can only dream of the memories tonight’s game will revive for Ferriss who will turn 92 on Dec. 5 and still can recall pitches he made — and what the count was on the pitches — against Stan Musial in that World Series 67 years ago.
David “Boo” Ferriss was 24 years old and had just completed his second season in the Major Leagues, having won 21 games as a rookie and 25 more in his second season. Only one pitcher in Major League history — Grover Cleveland Alexander — has won more games in his first two seasons and Alexander won 47 in 1911 and 1912.
Ferriss got the start in Game 3, and to say he was nervous would be to say Fenway’s Green Monster is tall.
“I had more butterflies than usual,” Ferriss told me. “The ballpark was packed and flags were flying all over the place. Sports writers were there from all over the country.”
Before the game, Ferriss ran into another future Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean, the former Cardinals pitching star-turned-broadcaster.
“Diz was wearing that big ol’ 10-gallon hat of his and was cutting up with everybody,” Ferriss said. “He threw his arm around my shoulders and said, ‘Kid, you just go out there and throw the way you’ve been throwing all summer. After your first pitch, it’s just another game.’
“I said, ‘I don’t know Diz. I don’t think this is just another game. Look at all those flags flying and all the writers…
“But you know what? Diz was right.”
In Game Three, Ferriss threw as he had been throwing all summer, if not better. He used his fast ball, which tailed in on right-handed hitters, to break six of the Cardinals’ bats. He shut out the Cardinals 4-0 on just six hits for only the 50th shutout in World Series history. A sellout crowd of 34,500 paid between $1.20 (bleacher seats) and $7.20 (box seats) for tickets. A program cost 25 cents.
Walter Stewart, the legendary and often humorous sports writer of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, covered the ‘46 Series and quoted Ferriss as saying after his shutout, “I used mostly curves and fast balls and I had pretty good control.”
To which Stewart added, in his own words, “That is kind of like saying there are quite a few Hindus in India.”
That was the day Ferriss says he learned how to pitch to Stan “The Man” Musial.
In the first inning, he walked Musial, who then stole second base.
And then… “I went into my stretch and noticed that Stan was way, way off second base. … I ran at him and threw to Pinky Higgins at third and Pinky tagged him out. I’ve always said that’s the best way to pitch to Stan Musial: Walk him and then pick him off.”
With two out in the ninth inning and Musial up, Ferriss forgot the best way to pitch Musial. He got one over the plate, and Musial laced it to right center field for a triple.
Said Ferriss, “I’ve never seen anyone run faster than Musial did from home plate to third base. People don’t realize how fast he was.”
With the shutout on the line and the great Enos “Country” Slaughter coming to the plate, Ferriss had to bear down.
With two strikes on Slaughter, Ferriss decided to throw his sharp-breaking curve ball. Slaughter swung mightily — and missed. The Red Sox had won. Catcher Hal Wagner tossed Ferriss the ball.
Ferriss trotted over to the box seats and presented the ball to his mother, who was sitting with his sister, Martha Anne. That same baseball now sits in your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Look for more from Boo Ferriss at msfame.com as the 2013 World Series continues.