NOT ONLY COULD HE PITCH, HE COULD PLAY GOLF! Ralph Terry is the only athlete who pitched in the seventh game of a world series (twice) and was paired with Jack Nicklaus in the USGA Senior Open. TALK ABOUT BIG STAGE – WHAT A DOUBLE!!
The wind was blowing hard, even for western Kansas, when I first met Ralph Terry at the Smokey Hill Invitational Golf Tournament in 1968. The tournament chairman told me that they had paired me with that Ex-Yankee’s pitcher who was MVP in the 1962 World Series. So what, I thought. On the second hole Ralph drilled a quail-high tee shot into the wind, 20 yards past my solid tee shot, then casually commented: “That reminds me of the one Mickey (Mantel) knocked over the right field fence against the Pirates in game three.”
Suddenly Mr. Ralph Terry, World Series MVP got my attention. Not only could he pitch, HE COULD PLAY GOLF!
My next encounter with Ralph Terry occurred in 1993 when he was in Minneapolis to play in the Monday qualifier, at the Links At Northfork, for Minnesota’s first Senior Tour Golf Tournament in Minnesota. In an extended conversation with Ralph for my TV show, I learned a lot about the southern gentleman from Larned, Kansas.
There are certain intangibles that make an athlete a “winner” and Ralph Terry had them. You could see the focus in his eyes. When asked about the 1960 World Series, where Ralph gave up a ninth inning home run (that put the Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski into the Hall Of Fame), he got a far-off look in his eye and his jaw muscles knotted as he visualized the ball sailing over the fence. PIRATES BEAT YANKEES.
Ralph was quick to recall that two years later when he got his redemption: He pitched a shutout in Game 7. He was named the World Series MVP, winning two of his three starts against the Giants. With steely eyes and his square jaw set, he told me that he had focused everyday for two years to get back on the BIG STAGE. He said, “I wanted prove to others, but mostly to himself, that he could win the big one.” He had the heart of a champion.
After retiring from baseball, he turned to golf and played in five PGA Tour events. Ralph might have been a better baseball player if it weren’t for a car accident that fractured his hip. But he might never have had his second career as a professional golfer.
Terry couldn’t run in spring training in 1958 due to the accident and turned to golf as physical therapy. When he turned 50 he joined the Senior Tour and had moderate success. He played in 96 senior events with one top-10 finish. Lacking formal training and years of dedicated practice that most Senior Tour players experience, in Ralph’s mind; the highlight of his professional golf career was playing with Jack in the final round of the 1991 Senior Open.
Thirty years later, Ralph Terry was again on the BIG STAGE competing with the best!