Willie Mays Makes "The Catch" In Game 1 of the 1954 World Series
The Catch refers to a memorable defensive baseball play by Willie Mays on September 29, 1954, during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds in New York on a ball hit by Vic Wertz.
The score was tied 2-2 in the top of the eighth inning. Starting pitcher Sal Maglie walked Larry Doby and gave up a single to Al Rosen. With runners on first and second, Giants manager Leo Durocher summoned left-handed relief pitcher Don Liddle to replace Maglie and pitch to Cleveland's Wertz, also a left-hander.
Wertz worked the count to two balls and a strike before crushing Liddle's fourth pitch approximately 420 feet to deep center field. In many stadiums the shot would have been a home run and given the Indians a 5-2 lead. However, this was the spacious Polo Grounds, and Giants center fielder Willie Mays, who was playing in shallow center field, made an on-the-run over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track to make the out. Having caught the ball, he immediately spun and threw the ball, losing his hat in characteristic style. Doby, the runner on second, might have been able to score the go-ahead run had he tagged at the moment the ball was caught; but as it was, he ran when the ball was hit, and then had to scramble back to retag and only got as far as third base.
"I had it the whole time," Giants center fielder Willie Mays quipped after making his famous catch of a shot off the bat of Cleveland's Vic Wertz. He probably did. Depending on whom you talk to, Wertz hit the ball between 450 feet and 450 miles in the cavernous Polo Grounds, with runners on first and second in the top of the eighth of a 2-2 game. Mays' improbable over-the-shoulder catch saved two runs, and the Indians now had runners on first and third with one out. New York reliever Don Liddle had been brought in to face Wertz but now was being taken out of the game. "Well," he said to incoming pitcher Marv Grissom, "I got my man." Grissom squeezed out of the jam, and the Giants went on to win the Series.