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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

TERRY, RALPH (1936– ).

Baseball great Ralph Terry was born on January 9, 1936, in Big Cabin, Oklahoma, and he rose from that small Oklahoma town to become a metropolitan-area-baseball pitching star for the New York Yankees. His biggest day, however, was his worst, giving up one of the most famous home runs in World Series history. Terry grew up in Oklahoma, attending Chelsea High School before attending college for a while in Missouri. The New York Yankees signed him during his senior year in high school as an amateur free agent.

Terry, who stood 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed 195 pounds, unusual size for his time, reached the major leagues during 1956, his twentieth year, when he won two games and lost one for the Yankees. He earned a 1–1 record early in 1957 when he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics. He won twenty-two games and lost forty through 1959 before returning to the Yankees. He became a regular starter in 1960, winning ten games. He won sixteen games in 1961 and reached his peak in 1962 when he earned a remarkable 23–12 record. Terry continued as a Yankee starter until 1966 when he returned to Kansas City. He wound up his career in 1967 with the New York Mets, completing a career record of 107–99 in regular season games and 2–4 in World Series games for the Yankees.

On October 13 in the 1960 World Series against Pittsburgh, Terry became famous. The Yankees lost three of the first five games and were tied 9–9 in the ninth inning of the sixth game when Terry faced Bill Mazeroski. Terry offered a high fast ball to Mazeroski, who drove the ball over the left field fence for a 10–9 victory and the World Series championship. This was the most exciting home run since Bobby Thompson's 1959 famous shot for the Giants against the Dodgers, and "the most dramatic finish to a World Series that I've ever seen," said Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick.

Terry defeated the San Francisco Giants twice in the 1962 Series, including a 1–0 victory in the final game. Willie McCovey lined out to second baseman Bobby Richardson for the final out. Terry pitched in 338 regular season games with an earned run average of 3.62, but Mazeroski's home run and McCovey's final out are etched in World Series history. After being released by the Mets in 1967, Ralph Terry retired. In 2015 he lived in Larned, Kansas, and in that year he was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

Max Nichols

Learn More

Baseball Encyclopedia (10th ed.; New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1996).

Jenni Carlson, "Mantle. Mays. Williams. Ralph Terry Has Crossed Paths with a Litany of Sports Legends," The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 21 January 2015.

John Durant, Highlights of the World Series (New York: Hastings House, 1971).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Max Nichols, “Terry, Ralph,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=TE029.

Published September 4, 2015

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