The only man to throw the final pitch in two World Series Game 7s has finally told his story in Right Down The Middle: The Ralph Terry Story (Mullerhaus Publishing Arts, Inc.) written with John Wooley.
Terry went from growing up in Oklahoma to pitching for the New York Yankees and made his debut for the 1956 world champions.
“When I first came to New York, I was happy when the season was over,” Terry said in a phone interview. “Then I learned my way around. There were all these great sports teams, and Broadway and restaurants. It was an interesting town.”
Terry was included in the 1957 trade which sent Billy Martin to the Kansas City A’s. That could have been it for Terry’s time in New York, but the Yankees reacquired him during the 1959 season, just in time for the right-handed pitcher to be a part of five straight pennant winning teams. “The Yankees had few players they got rid of that they ever got back,” Terry said laughing. “Maybe they were admitting they made a mistake.”
Terry became the answer to a trivia question when he gave up the series ending homer to Bill Mazeroski in 1960 as the Pirates stunned the Yankees with a 10-9 win in game 7.
Terry and the Yankees bounced back in 1961 as the Bronx Bombers, led by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, hit 240 home runs and won 109 games. Terry finished second in the league in winning percentage, going 16-3, finishing only behind his teammate Whitey Ford who finished 25-4 and won the Cy Young.
Then in 1962, Terry won a league-high 23 games and was an All-Star for the only time in his career. Terry ended up getting a shot at redemption when he started Game 7 of the World Series against the Giants at Candlestick Park, even with Joe Garagiola saying on radio that Terry would choke. (When Terry approached him before the game, Garagiola said that he had to say something.)
The Yankees led 1-0 with two outs in the ninth but the Giants had runners on second and third for Willie McCovey who had tripled in his last at-bat. Terry decided not to walk the slugger because it would load the bases for Orlando Cepeda and working with a National League umpire behind the plate would make it even more difficult. McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson at second, the Yankees were world champs and Terry was World Series MVP.
The Yankees traded Terry after the 1964 World Series to Cleveland. He played one year for the Indians and was sent back to the Kansas City A’s. Then he came back to New York, but this time with the Mets. During this time he got to face Mazeroski for the first time since 1960. Before the game, Terry said it would be funny if he threw the first pitch over Maz’s head and the second baseman agreed. True to his word, Terry’s first pitch flew to the backstop. Terry had one major contribution as a Met: helping young reliever Tug McGraw with his screwball.
Terry had several people who wanted him to do a book but he didn’t want to get involved. That was until two guys from his hometown, Jim Russell and John Wooley, convinced him to do it for the area and get his story on record.
“It’s a small-town guy who has ups and downs. Losing the big one, hung in there and won the big one, and the ups and downs along the way,” Terry said.