On Saturday, three days before the All-Star game in Minnesota, clever
Calvin Griffith counted a double gate as the Twins won the opener of a
day-night doubleheader before losing the nightcap, their first loss in 10
Griffith had wisely lobbied to postpone the season´s second game
during April´s rain and floods, despite protests from the Yankees, who
claimed Griffith was more concerned about poor attendance than unplayable
conditions. The league went along with Griffith, and that decision put a bulge
in his wallet because Major League Baseball had a directive that stated
postponed games could be made up as part of split doubleheaders.
The postponed April game with New York was converted into the second game of
the Saturday day-night doubleheader, so what might have been a crowd of perhaps
3,000 in April resulted in a huge mid-summer gate attraction, with more than
36,000 fans turning out for each game that Saturday.
There was a break of a couple hours between games to clear the crowd, wait
for the parishioners from Church of the Assumption to sweep out the stands as
they had since the club moved to Minnesota, and then admit ticket holders for
the nightcap. The downside for the players was they had to spend more than 10
hours at Met Stadium, so the players hoped for a short day at the yard when
Sunday arrived. It was getaway day for the Yankees, and players on both teams
were eager to start the three-day All-Star break.
It was 78 degrees, and another crowd of about 35,000 appeared for the series
finale that soft Sunday afternoon, settling into the stands to watch a pre-game
ceremony in which Oliva received his Silver Slugger Award for winning the 1964
league batting title. Fans were in an upbeat mood over the presentation, the
sun, and the fact New York had lost two of the first three games and was more
than a dozen games behind the Twins in the standings, but the Yankees took the
lead in the top of the ninth on a controversial play that disgusted the
hometown crowd and caused the fans to drum long and hard on the umpires.
The game had been tied three times, first when Versalles hit his 10th
home run of the season to make it 1-1 in the third. The scoring seesawed from
that point before coming to rest at 4-4 in the top of the ninth when, with two
out and Yankees on first and third, New York rookie outfielder Roger
Repoz chopped a high, bounding ball down the first-base line.
Pitcher Jerry Fosnow raced over and lunged for the ball as Repoz sped
down the baseline, making contact with Fosnow en route to first base. The ball
fell to the ground and home plate umpire Ed Hurley called Repoz out for
interfering with Fosnow´s ability to field the ball. It was the third out
and the Twins ran off the field, hoping to stage a ninth-inning rally and go
Yankee manager Johnny Keane charged out of the third-base dugout and
insisted Fosnow had possession of the ball but dropped it, an interesting
assertion in that Keane lacked an ideal view of a play on the first-base side
of the field from the visitors´ third-base dugout. If Fosnow had dropped
the ball, it would mean Repoz should be safe and the run that crossed the plate
Umpires rarely reverse a call, but Hurley did just that after a conference
with the first-base umpire. Hurley decided his view of the play had been
blocked and deferred his call. Fosnow was ruled to have been in possession of
the ball before it fell to the ground, and Repoz was called safe. New
York´s Elston Howard scored from third on the play, the run stood and the
Yankees led 5-4.
Mele charged out and argued with more animation than Keane, but lost the
argument. Fosnow maintained he never had control of the ball when Repoz brushed
him, and that Repoz unquestionably had interfered. Hurley dismissed the
Twins´ appeal, and Mele told the umpires his team would continue the game
under protest as the players were ordered back onto the field. Minnesota got
the final out of the inning for what fans believed was the second time, and
those customers remained agitated and dismayed as the team left the field
again. Didn´t the Yankees always get these kinds of breaks?
The specter of Yankee championships remained with many baseball followers,
who still considered the franchise a threat. Could this open the door? American
League president Joe Cronin was in the stands, so fans howled at him in
addition to the umpires and the Yankees.