Pivotal World Series Moments
Blanchard and Maris Bomb Reds
1961 World Series - Game 3: New York Yankees @ Cincinnati Reds
After his scintillating but exhausting season in which he hit 61 homers to break Babe Ruth's sacred record, Roger Maris was hitless in ten at-bats in the World Series as he stepped into the batter's box to lead off the 9th inning. The Series was tied at one game apiece as 32,589 jammed Crosley Field on a gorgeous Oc­tober Saturday for the first Fall Classic in the cradle of baseball in 21 years.
Maris had lived in fear every day during the stretch run of the regular sea­son because of death threats. Not only was he chasing the record of the immor­tal Bambino, but he was outdistancing Mickey Mantle, whom adoring Yank­ee fans anointed as the record-breaker. Mick's 54 roundtrippers would have won the home run title in any other year except 1961. The Yankees hired an NYPD de­tective as Roger's personal protector. The combination of stress and fear became so bad that clumps of Maris's hair fell out. Nevertheless, Roger persevered and smashed his 61st on the last day of the season.
Righthander Bob Purkey had frustrated the hard-hitting Bronx Bombers with his knuckle­ball, holding them to four hits through eight innings. But PH Johnny Blanchard de­posited a high slider into the right field blea­chers in the 8th to tie the game at 2-2. Blan­chard explain­ed, "I made up my mind to go for the first pitch when I noticed Bob Purkey had been getting most of them in, and fur­thermore he wasn't throwing the knuckleball on the first pitch. So I went for it. It was a slider. I didn't have any in­tention of hitting it out of the park, but it was good."
Roger had popped out, grounded out, and flied out in his three previous at-bats. But the Yankee rightfielder slammed what the pitch­er described as a "fast slider" 20 rows up in the right-field bleachers to put the AL champs ahead 3-2. Maris said later, "I hadn't even hit one out of the park either here or in New York in practice since the series started. Change my swing? I honestly don't know what I'm doing."

Maris vs Purkey

L-R: John Blanchard, Luis Arroyo, Gene Freese, Leo Cardenas
Luis Arroyo's relief pitching had been a key factor in the Yanks' pennant run. He won 15 games and saved 29. He now stood to be the winning pitcher after setting down the Reds 1-2-3 in the 8th. But the Dominican southpaw needed a bit of luck to seal the victory. After Gene Freese struck out to start the bottom of the 9th, PH Leo Cardenas smashed a long drive that seemed destined to clear the centerfield fence. But the ball started curving and hit the scoreboard for a double. Arroyo then got the last two outs on grounders from pinch hitters Dick Gernert and Gus Bell to strand the potential tying run at 2nd.
The Yankees won the next two games to win the Series in five.

Crosley Field - notice the scoreboard in left-center field.