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JEFF BLAIR

Memories of 1962 Add to ...

Felipe Alou was not ready when the World Series came calling in 1962. With his brother on first base after a bunt single, Alou was asked to drop a sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the series against the New York Yankees.

The ball rolled foul - to this day, Alou believes the wind at San Francisco's Candlestick Park had much to do with it, because the ball stayed fair for what seemed like an eternity - and he next fouled off an attempted hit and run before striking out.

Alou would never get back to the World Series. Not as a player or manager or coach. So he has been soaking in this trip to the Fall Classic, as a senior adviser to San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean. He can be found in the Giants dugout during batting practice, holding court in a sport jacket and tie.

"When I saw that bunt sign, I had my doubts," said Alou, who played for the Giants from 1958-63. "I have to think that everybody on this team would be ready if [current manager]Bruce Bochy asked them to bunt. I believe these guys would do anything for him to win a game.

"You have to be ready to bunt in the World Series. I was not ready."

The last time the Giants won a World Series was 1954, when they were still the New York Giants. Only the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians started the 2010 season with longer World Series droughts, and it was a failure to win in the 2002 World Series that resulted in Dusty Baker being let go by the team and replaced by Alou, who had managed the Montreal Expos from 1992 until he was fired in 2001.

The '62 Giants, who lost 1-0 in Game 7, boasted five players that would go to the Hall of Fame - Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry (who did not pitch in the 1962 playoffs) - and won 103 games, including two games of a best-of-three playoff against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cepeda has said in interviews he felt 1962 "lacked" togetherness. Alou does not agree, but is gentle with his former teammate.

"I believe that's togetherness," he said. "But I know one thing: when we beat Sandy Koufax at home in the first game of that playoff and then had to go there to face Mr. [Don]Drysdale … we won two of those three games. I know we were together. But over the course of a long season, sure, there are some things. …"

Matty Alou was stranded at third base after a Willie Mays double in the deciding game of the 1962 Series and the debate still rages as to whether he could have scored. Felipe Alou doubts it. Roger Maris fielded the double perfectly and threw the ball to Bobby Richardson, who in turn fired a throw straight and true to catcher Elston Howard.

"Roger was a hell of an outfielder and [Richardson's throw]was a warning," Alou said. The game ended when McCovey lined out to Richardson.

A great deal has happened to Alou since then. He played out the string until he was 39, saw his son Moises become an all-star and, now 75, he became the first native of the Dominican Republic to manage in the majors and skippered a 1994 Expos team that was in first place at the time of the players strike.

"That was the best team I saw," Alou said with a shrug. "And it was getting better each day."

Those Expos are the team that time has forgotten. As Alou watches this World Series from the vantage point of "a man who swung and missed at the last pitch I ever saw in a World Series," he can only wonder: what if?

Like the rest of us.

 

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