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by Harold Friend
Lenore Velez has followed the New York Yankees since the early 1960s.
She recalls with great distaste events following the Yankees' loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1964 World Series.
The Yankees Almost Worshiped Ralph Houk
It all started when Yogi Berra replaced Ralph Houk as manager. Most of the players, especially the younger ones, almost worshiped Houk.
Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Johnny Blanchard, Clete Boyer, Roger Maris, and Ralph Terry had not been too enamored with Casey Stengel. When the Yankees summarily fired their greatest manager and replaced him with Houk, there was joy at the Home of Champions.
Many players felt as if they had been released from reform school.
Yogi Wasn't Bright Enough to Manage?
Ralph Houk was a born leader. He was a smart, tough-minded individual who inspired confidence.
When Yogi Berra replaced Houk after the 1963 World Series loss to Los Angeles, the players felt abandoned. Many believed, quite incorrectly, that Yogi wasn't bright enough to manage. What a joke.
How Do They Expect Us to Win
Most of the players had been Yogi's teammates, and some resented his fierce desire to win. He didn't hesitate to privately second-guess them when they made bad baseball plays or decisions.
One unnamed player complained that "They took away from us the best manager in baseball. They took away the best pitching coach, Johnny Sain, and the best batting coach, Wally Moses. How do they expect us to win?"
The 1964 Yankees did win, but a minority of fanatical individuals claimed that they didn't. Yes, they said, the Yankees were American League Champions, but the Cardinals were the World Champions.
Goodbye Yogi, Hello Johnny
The Yankees fired Yogi after the World Series and hired Johnny Keane as their manager. It was bizarre because Keane had managed the Cardinals to their World Series win.
It was the first time in history that the manager of the winning World Series team took over as manager of the team he defeated.
Johnny Keane had been bothered by what he referred to as "front office intrigue."
There had been rumors that Keane would replaced as Cardinals' manager by Leo Durocher, and when Keane's good friend, general manager Bing Devine, left to take over the New York Mets, Keane wrote a letter of resignation on Sept. 28.
The day after the World Series, Cardinals' owner August A. Busch Jr. called a news conference to announce that Keane would return as manager. One-half hour before the news conference, Keane handed his letter to the Cardinals' owner.
On Oct. 20, the Yankees called a new conference to announce that Johnny Keane had replaced Yogi Berra as their manager.
Some reporters wondered if their had been "tampering." Houk went to great lengths to explain that the Yankees and Keane had not had any discussions before the World Series ended.
"It's not fair to baseball or to Johnny to imply that we spoke to him before the World Series. The first I heard that he was even available was last Friday. When I was told Keane had just resigned, he immediately went to the top of my list."
Johnny Keane insisted that he had no idea that Yogi was going be fired when he handed his letter of resignation to the Cardinals.
Keane Didn't Know What Was Ahead
Johnny Keane, despite being a solid baseball man, didn't have an inkling of what was in store. The Yankees were an old, injured team.
Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were battling major injuries, Tony Kubek and Bobby Richardson would soon retire, and of greatest significance, on Nov. 2, 1964, CBS bought the Yankees.
The media conglomerate's policy was to provide only enough funds to make the Yankees somewhat competitive at best.
The Streak Ends
The Yankees finished in sixth place in 1965, with a record of 77-85. Their streak of winning five consecutive pennants came to a screeching halt.
It is interesting that most fans know that the 1949-53 Yankees won five consecutive pennants, but few realize that the 1960-64 Yankees also won five straight.
Do you think the fact that the 1949-53 teams won five World Series, while the 1960-64 group lost three World Series is a factor? Maybe some of those fanatical fans who think that a pennant without a World Championship isn't enough aren't such fanatics.
The 1966 Yankees lost 16 of their first 20 games, and Johnny Keane was fired. He was replaced by Ralph Houk.
By LEONARD KOPPETT. (1964, October 17). Berra: A Losing Winner :A View That Everybody Wanted Yogi To Be Somebody Other Than Himself. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 22. Retrieved February 2, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 97351449).
By JOSEPH DURSO Special to The New York Times. (1964, October 17). St. Louis Manager Turns In Notice Dated Sept. 28 :ST. LOUIS PLANNED TO REHIRE LEADER Resignation 'Shocks' Owner -- Keane Turns in Notice Written on Sept. 28. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 1. Retrieved February 2, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 97351291).
By JOSEPH DURSO. (1964, October 21). ACCORD REACHED ON ONE-YEAR PACT :Salary Is Not Disclosed -- Houk Denies 'Tampering' in Obtaining Manager. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. 58. Retrieved February 2, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 97426198).