(This is my game-by-game account of the 1955 World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. Last year, I did a game-by-game account of the 1944 Streetcar Series that pitted the St. Louis Browns against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards won that Series in six games.)
By Glen Sparks
The New York Yankees made a habit of sending the Brooklyn Dodgers into fall with a broken heart.
New York beat Brooklyn in 1947, ’49, ’52 and ’53. The ’47 and ’52 Series ended in an agonizing seven games. “Wait ‘til next year!!!” the fans cried out. What in the name of diehard Dodger fan Hilda Chester could Brooklyn do about it? Why, they could win, of course.
The two teams met again in 1955. The Yanks captured their 21st American League pennant that season. They finished 96-58, three games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians. Center-fielder Mickey Mantle led New York with 37 home runs. He drove in 99 runs and batted .306. Catcher Yogi Berra clubbed 27 homers and knocked in a team-high 109 runs. First baseman Bill “Moose” Skowron batted .319, and right-fielder Hank Bauer added 20 home runs.
On the mound, Whitey Ford enjoyed his usual role as the Yankee ace. He went 18-7 with a 2.63 ERA. Bob Turley (17-13, 3.06 ERA), Tommy Byrne (16-5, 3.16) and Don Larsen (9-2, 3.06) rounded out the rotation. Jim Konstanty (7-2, 2.32 11 saves) and Tom Morgan (7-3, 3.25, 10 saves) headed the bullpen.
The Dodgers ran away with the National League pennant. They won their first 10 games and started off 20-2. Brooklyn ended the year 98-55, 13.5 games in front of the runner-up Milwaukee Braves.
As usual, Brooklyn boasted a potent line-up. Center-fielder Duke Snider blasted 42 homers, drove home 136 runs and hit .309. Catcher Roy Campanella added 32 home runs and 107 RBI to go with a .318 batting average. Over at first base, Gil Hodges cracked 27 round-trippers with 102 RBI.
Right-fielder Carl Furillo enjoyed another solid campaign–26 homers, 95 RBI and a .314 batting average. Jackie Robinson, playing mostly at third base, hit just eight home runs in 105 games and batted only .256. He still had a good eye at the plate though, and put up a .378 on-base percentage.
Don Newcombe, with a 20-5 won-loss record and 3.20 ERA, led the starting staff. Carl Erskine provided support with an 11-8 won-loss record (3.79 ERA), while Billy Loes compiled a 10-4 mark (3.59 ERA), and Johnny Podres finished 9-10 (3.95).
Clem Labine (13-5, 3.24 ERA, 11 saves), Don Bessent (8-1, 2.70, 3 saves), Karl Spooner (8-6. 3.65) and Russ Meyer (6-2, 5.42) also played important roles. … On the squad were two young lefthanders—rookie Sandy Koufax and second-year man Tommy LaSorda. Koufax appeared in 12 games and went 2-2 with a 3-2 ERA. He struck out 30 batters in 41.2 innings and walked 28. LaSorda finished 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in four innings.
Game 1 of the Series began Sept. 28 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Ford took the ball for the Yanks; Newcombe started for the Dodgers. Brooklyn broke out on top with two runs in the top of the second inning. Furillo hit a lead-off home run to right field. Robinson tripled with one out and scored on a Don Zimmer single.
The Dodger lead lasted only for a few minutes. New York tied the score in the bottom of the second on Elston Howard’s two-run homer. Hey, wasn’t this supposed to be a pitching duel? No one said anything to the Duke of Flatbush. He knocked a Ford pitch into the seats to lead off the top of the third.
Back and forth it went. The Yanks tied the score 3-3 in the bottom of the third. Ford walked and Bauer singled. With one out, Irv Noren singled home Ford.
Joe Collins put New York ahead 4-3 on a lead-off homer in the fourth. That shot was the third lead-off home run of the day. In fact, of the eight lead-off batters for both teams through the first four innings, six reached safely.
The Yanks grabbed a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Berra singled with one out, and Collins followed with a two-run homer, the fifth round-tripper of the game. Collins, a lefty batter from Scranton, Pa., notched 13 home runs in the regular season. He split time between right-field and first base, platooning with the right-handed hitting Skowron. Collins enjoyed his best season in 1952, the year he reached career highs in home runs (18), RBI (59) and batting average (.280).
Brooklyn crept back into the game in the eighth inning. Furillo lined a single to start the rally. With one out, Robinson reached second base safely on an error and Furillo ran to third. Zimmer knocked a sacrifice fly to score Furillo, a.k.a. “Skoonj” (Italian for “snail,” Furillo’s favorite dish). Robinson sprinted ahead 90 feet. Then, No. 42 did what he did 19 times in his career. He stole home.
Pinch-hitter Frank Kellert followed by rapping a single. Jim Gilliam ended the rally with a pop-up to third base. The Yanks hung on to win 6-5.
What was Hilda Chester, famous for clanging her cowbell at Ebbets Field, thinking? Were the Dodgers doomed again? Well, it was just Game 1.
Time of the game: 2:31
Winning pitcher: Whitey Ford
Losing pitcher: Don Newcombe
Save: Bob Grim
Joe Collins (2) (New York)
Elston Howard (New York)
Carl Furillo (Brooklyn)
Duke Snider (Brooklyn)