(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)
By Glen Sparks
What Madison Bumgarner did for the Giants in the recent World Series happens every 90 years or so. An article in The Hardball Times compares Bumgarner’s five-inning save in Game 7 against the Royals to the Senators’ Walter Johnson’s four-inning save in 1924 against, yes, the Giants. The New York Giants.
Actually, as the article points out, Bumgarner outdid the Big Train in his Game 7 heroics. Besides throwing one more inning, Bum gave up one less hit. But, Johnson’s effort may have been more surprising. Bumgarner, after all, had been lights outs through the entire postseason. He beat Kansas City in his two starts in the Series, giving up just one run.
Johnson was tagged for 10 runs in his two starts. A New York Times reporter wrote this about the veteran Johnson, age 36, following his loss in Game 5: “It was a tragic affair and Johnson the most tragic figure that ever stalked through a world’s (sic) series.” (In truth, the reporter was being a bit harsh and melodramatic. Johnson enjoyed a big year for Washington in 1924, leading the American League in several categories.)
Hardball Times writer Fred Frommer does a good job at recapping Johnson’s game-saving effort, much of which happened in extra innings. Washington rallied in the 12th inning for its only championship. Oh, and you know how Bumgarner came into Game 7 on two days’ rest? Johnson entered his Game 7 with just a one-day break.
By Glen Sparks
Tigers’ starter Bill Donovan plunked the first Pirates batter in Game 7 of the 1909 World Series. Unfortunately for Detroit, the game didn’t get any better after that. The Pirates beat the Tigers 8-0 in front of 17,562 at Bennett Park in Detroit. It was Pittsburgh’s first World Series championship and the first Series since 1905 that did not include the Cubs.
Baseball people wanted to see Detroit’s Ty Cobb battle it out in the Series against Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner. Cobb had put together a huge year. He led the American League in batting average (.377), RBI (107), and home runs (nine, remember this was the dead-ball era) to earn a Triple Crown. He also led in hits (216) and stolen bases (76). The Georgia Peach slumped in the Series, though. He finished just 6-26, a paltry .231.
Wagner enjoyed a fine October after concluding yet another strong regular-season campaign (5 HR, 100 RBI, .339 BA, 35 SB). The so-called Flying Dutchman batted .333 (8-24) against the Tigers.
Really, though, the World Series belonged to 27-year-old Charles “Babe” Adams. A solid pitcher throughout his 19-year career (all but one season with the Pirates), Adams finished 194-140 with a 2.76 ERA. One of the great control artists in the early days of baseball, Babe topped the National League in WHIP five times. In that rookie season of 1909, he went 12-3 with a 1.11 ERA.
By Glen Sparks
Madison Bumgarner’s fastball is as hot as a bottle of top-shelf chili sauce. Royals’ batters flailed away at the lefty’s four-seamers and cutters for nine innings Sunday night in Game 5 of the World Series. They did the same thing in Game 1. OK, Kansas City did manage to score one measly run off the Giants’ ace in the first game before being shutout in the fifth. Bumgarner’s Series ERA stands at a teeny-tiny 0.56.
He may not be done, either. He could pitch at least a few innings if the Series goes seven games. Bumgarner said in a post-game interview that he’ll be ready if needed. The only thing scarier for Kansas City might be a tornado. So, Bumgarner will likely go down as the Giants’ second-best World Series pitcher of all-time. You need to look back more than a century to find a better one.
The great Christy Mathewson pitched three-complete game victories for the New York Giants in the 1905 World Series against the Philadelphia A’s. His Series ERA was 0.00, and you can’t get any better than that.
Mathewson, the so-called “Christian Gentleman,” threw fastballs and fadeaways (now called “screwballs”) well enough to win 373 games in his 17-year career. In 1905, the right-hander went 31-9 with a 1.28 ERA (ERA+ 230) and 206 strikeouts in the regular season.
Three Shutouts in Six Days
Matty pitched in the 1905 World Series as a 25-year-old, the same age that Baumgarner is now. He gave up four hits and struck out six in Game 1 of the Series, Oct. 9 at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. Always a control artist, he didn’t walk a batter. The Giants beat the A’s 3-0.
Following a 3-0 A’s win in Game 2 at the Polo Grounds, the Series returned to Baker Bowl on Oct. 12. Mathewson gave up four hits again and struck out eight in Game 3. He walked a lone batter, and the Giants won 9-0. Dan McGann, one of New York manager John McGraw’s favorite drinking buddies, enjoyed a big game. The Giants’ first baseman went 3-5 with four RBI.
The next day, New York took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Fall Classic. Joe McGinty, who would pitch professionally until he was 54 years old, outdid Eddie Plank 1-0. That left Mathewson to pitch the potential clincher on Oct. 14, and the Christian Gentleman came through again. He struck out four, gave up six hits and did not walk anyone. The Giants narrowly beat future Hall of Famer Charles “Chief” Bender 2-0.
By Glen Sparks
Game 1 of the 2016 World Series begins tonight in Cleveland. The Indians take on the Chicago Cubs. One team will end up celebrating its first World Series title in quite awhile. The Indians last won one in 1948, the Cubs way back in 1908. Who will be the Series hero? Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo? Andrew Miller or Francisco Lindor? Stay tuned. Check out my article and slide show about some World Series immortals from the past.
The great right-hander from Factoryville, Pa., finished just 5-5 in Series play. He still posted a microscopic 0.97 ERA in 11 starts and 101 2/3 innings for the Giants. Mathewson pitched his best in 1905 against the A’s, going 3-0 over 27 scoreless innings.
The Cubs put together a dynasty of sorts in the early 1900, thanks in part to Orval Overall. The 6-foot-2 inch right-hander from California pitched in four Series. He did his finest work in 1908 against the Tigers, going 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA. Overall allowed just seven hits in 18 2/3 innings as Chicago celebrated a second straight world title..
“Home Run” Baker led the A’s to World Series titles in 1910, 1911 and 1913. He hit three home runs in the three Series and batted .409, .375, and .450, respectively.
Collins played in six World Series, four with the A’s and two with the White Sox. He batted better than .400 in three of them and stole a total of 14 bases.
Gowdy went 0-4 in the 1923 World Series for the Giants. He hit a pedestrian .259 in the 1924 Series. His big Series came in 1914 with the Boston Braves. Gowdy helped Boston to a championship over the A’s, batting .545 with a .688 on-base percentage.
The Iron Horse crushed several big hits in the 1928 World Series against the Cardinals. He batted .545 with four home runs (.706 on-base percentage and a 1.718 slugging percentage) as New York swept St. Louis. Gehrig knocked 10 home runs with 35 RBI in 119 Series at-bats.
George Leonard Roosevelt “Pepper” Martin, the “Wild Horse of the Osage,” batted .418 in Series play (55 at-bats), the top average for any player with at least 50 at-bats. The Cardinals’ third baseman and outfielder hit .500 (12-24) in the 1931 World Series against the A’s.
Ruth belted 15 home runs in the World Series. None was more famous than the one he hit in Game 3 of the 1932 Series against the Cubs. Legend says the Yankee great stepped out the batter’s box, pointed to the center-field bleachers and called his shot. We know he hit a home run to centerfield. The Babe also did some fine work on the mound. He started three World Series games for the Red Sox early in his career (1916 and 1918), going 3-0 and with a 0.87 ERA.
The Dodgers’ left-handed slugger hit 11 home runs in five Series. He belted four homers in the 1952 Fall Classic and four more in ’55, the year Brooklyn finally won it all.
The Dodgers and Giants ruled the National League for much of the 1950s. The Milwaukee Braves broke up that two-team dynasty in 1957 and ’58. Hammerin’ Hank led the way for Milwaukee. He batted .393 with three home runs and seven RBI as the Braves beat the Yankees in ‘57. Aaron hit .313 in a losing cause in the 1958 rematch.
Gibson, from Omaha, Neb., relied on a blazing fastball and wicked slider to go 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA in Series play. The right-hander threw eight complete games in his nine starts and won Game 7 starts in 1964 and 1967. Gibson struck out 17 Tigers in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series.
Mr. October won Series MVPs for the 1973 A’s and the 1977 Yankees. Jackson belted 10 homers in Series play, including three in Game 6 of the ’77 match-up against the Dodgers. He posted a .755 slugging percentage in 98 World Series at-bats.
By Glen Sparks
So, how did you do on the Dazzy Vance Chronicles Excruciatingly Hard, Nevertheless Enjoyable, Tremendously Informative, Annual at Least for Now, Amazing, Semi-Official World Series Quiz? Check below for the answers. Bonus points if you answered No. 4 correctly. The questions were posted yesterday. Continue reading
By Glen Sparks
In this quiz, you get a number. The challenge is to guess why this number is important in World Series history. Yes, I understand that you might come up with a different fact from mine. If you do, award yourself a bonus point. Good luck!
By Glen Sparks
Put away your work and do something important today. Test your knowledge about the World Series by taking the quiz below. This is a great brain exercise. As you know, nothing is really trivial about baseball. Answers will be posted tomorrow. Good luck!
Which team won the first World Series?
- What years did baseball skip the World Series?
- What was the first World Series game broadcast on the radio?
- Who was the first player to be on a winning World Series team in both the American and National leagues?
- In which two World Series did Ralph Terry throw the final pitch?
- Who was the first left-handed pitcher to win three games in one World Series?
- Which player-manager had the highest batting average during the World Series? (Minimum 15 at-bats)
- Who was the youngest manager to win a World Series game?
- Who led the 1919 Chicago White Sox, a.k.a., the Black Sox, in batting average during the Series?
- Of the eight N.L. teams in existence when World Series play began in 1903, which was the last club to win a league pennant?
- Who was the first pitcher to have two double-digit strikeout games in the same Series?
- Who is the oldest player to hit a home run in a World Series game?
- Which team was the first to win two World Series championships?
- What was the count on Kirk Gibson when he hit his home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 Fall Classic?
- Who are the only two brothers to hit home runs in the same World Series?
- Who was the first National League batter to hit a grand slam in a World Series game?
- What was the first World Series game to be played on artificial turf (boo!!)?
- Who is the only pitcher to win seven straight World Series games?
- What player tied his own record by stealing seven bases in the 1968 World Series?
- Who set the record for most saves in one World Series?
By Glen Sparks
Every player dreams about playing in the World Series. It is, after all, the grandest stage. The Yanks’ Yogi Berra played in the most Series (14) and has the most at-bats (259). Berra’s teammate, Mickey Mantle, leads in home run (18) and RBI (40). Whitey Ford, another Yankee, ranks No. 1 in Series wins (10), losses (8) strikeouts (94) and starts (22).
This is the time of year that Reggie Jackson hit three home runs on three straight pitches. No. 44 belted 18 career postseason homers–10 in the World Series–and dubbed himself “Mr. October” for his autumn heroics. Jackson once said, “The only reason I don’t like playing in the World Series is that I can’t watch myself play.” (That makes sense in a weird Reggie Jacksonian sort of way.)
Many of the great ones, though, didn’t get the chance to play mid-October baseball. Below is a list of some Hall of Famers who never took a World Series at-bat or pitched an inning in the Fall Classic.
Luke Appling, Chicago White Sox (1930-43, 1945-50), 2,749 H, .310 Avg.
Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs (1953-71), 512 HR, 1,636 RBI
Rod Carew, Minnesota Twins (1967-78), California Angels (1979-85), 3,053 H, .328 Avg.
Harry Heilmann, Detroit Tigers (1914-29), Cincinnati Reds (1930, 1932), 2,660 H, .342 Avg.
Ferguson Jenkins, Philadelphia Phillies (1965-66), Chicago Cubs (1966-73, 1982-83), Texas Rangers (1974-75, 1978-80), Boston Red Sox (1976-77) 284-226, 3,192 K
Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh Pirates (1946-53), Chicago Cubs (1953-54), Cleveland Indians (1955), 369 HR
Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Phillies (1896-1900), Philadelphia A’s (1901-02, 1915-16), Cleveland Indians (1902-14), 3,243 H, .338 Avg. Continue reading
Cardinal fans put on quite the party after their team won the 1926 World Series against the New York Yankees. Tim O’Neill wrote an article in Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the city’s first championship. “It was like a city-wide detonation.” the Post-Dispatch reported at the time.
The Redbirds beat the Yankees in seven games. Grover Cleveland Alexander, near the end of his storied career, threw two-complete game victories for St. Louis. He also recorded a big out in Game 7 in relief.
Babe Ruth was at his mightiest and most befuddling in the Series. The Babe hit three home runs in Game 4 and another in Game 7 after belting 47 in the regular season. Of note, he only stole 11 bases during the campaign and was caught nine times. That didn’t stop the not-so-fleet-footed Bambino from trying to steal second base with two outs in the ninth inning and the Yankees trailing 3-2. Bob Meusel was up to bat, and the great Lou Gehrig was on deck. Redbird catcher Bob O’Farrell nailed Ruth at second base to end the Series.