1955 World Series - Brooklyn Dodgers defeat New York Yankees
The 1955 World Series matched the Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees, with the Dodgers winning the Series in seven games to capture their first championship in franchise history.
It would be the only Series the Dodgers won in Brooklyn (the team relocated to Los Angeles after the 1957 season). The last time the Brooklyn franchise won a World Championship was in 1900. The team was called the Brooklyn Superbas, the event was called the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup, and the opponent was their fellow National League Pittsburgh Pirates.
This series would also mark the end of a long period of invulnerability for the Yankees in the World Series. It was the Yankees' first loss in a World Series since 1942 and only their second since 1926. While the Yankees were 15-2 in Series Appearances during that time, they would lose again in 1957, 1960, 1963, and 1964, for a record of 4-5 in World Series over the next decade.
The two teams were meeting in a World Series for the fifth time in nine years, with the Yankees having won in 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953.
For the third time in four years, Brooklyn and the Bronx went head-to-head in what was becoming as common an occurrence in the "Big Apple" as traffic. Whether the perennial champion Yankees, or their long-time rivals the Dodgers and Giants, the World Series (otherwise known the "Big Show") was becoming a New York institution and some writers joked that it should be given a permanent place on Broadway. The "Subway Series" as it was christened, was always a fan favorite and the '55 Series promised more competition than the previous meetings had. Of the Dodgers' seven World Series setbacks, the last five had come at the hands of the Yankees. However, this year, the "Bums from Brooklyn" won ten consecutive games to start the season, managed a 22-2 record in the first four weeks and cruised to the National League pennant with a 13½ game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Braves. The Yankees had missed the previous year's Classic (despite winning one-hundred three games) and were replaced by the Cleveland Indians. This season, they were back in top form and ready to add to their ever-growing collection of championships.
Don Newcombe, a twenty-game winner during the regular season, was called in for the Dodger start for Game 1. Despite a strong effort, the Yankees sluggers maintained the Brooklyn aces' winless Series streak as Joe Collins belted two home runs and rookie sensation Elston Howard (the first black Yankee) added a third. The Dodgers went down 6-5 and little would change the following day as Tommy Byrne, a thirty-five year-old lefthander, held the Dodgers to only five hits and posted a 4-2, Game 2, winner. Just as the Brooklyn faithful were on the verge of giving up hope, an unlikely hero named Johnny Podres took the mound. Podres had struggled to a 9-10 record for Brooklyn and was set to go up against the Yanks' seventeen-game winner, Bob Turley. A better script could not have been written for the occasion as the young man (on his twenty-third birthday) lit up Ebbets Field with a clutch, 8-3 triumph that put his teammates back in the hunt.
The Dodgers' renewed momentum continued in Game 4 as Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider all added homers for another 8-5 victory that tied the Series up at two games apiece. Brooklyn's train "kept a rolling" in Game 5 when rookie pitcher Roger Craig worked six-plus innings for a 5-3 decision that put the Dodgers ahead for the first time in the contest. Many fans had started to take notice and some predicted that this was the beginning of the end for the Yankees dynasty. However, as history could have predicted, the Yankees showed why they had more banners than anyone and nailed starter Karl Spooner and relievers Russ Meyer and Ed Roebuck for a 5-1, Game 6 win that was complimented by a supreme, four-hit effort by Whitey Ford.
Dodgers' manager Walter Alston opted for Game 3 hero, Johnny Podres to close the deal in Game 7 while Yankees skipper Casey Stengel selected Game 2 winner Tommy Byrne. Both pitchers went head-to-head, holding each other scoreless for four innings, until Campanella doubled and scored on a single by Gil Hodges. The Dodgers continued to pick up the pace in the sixth as Pee Wee Reese added a clean single and Snider, attempting to sacrifice, reached base safely when he brushed the ball from Bill Skowron's glove while running down the line. Campanella came through a second time with a perfect bunt moving Brooklyn's base-runners to second and third. In an effort to prevent further damage the Yanks opted to intentionally walk Carl Furillo as Bob Grim came in as relief. Hodges fell victim to the fresh arm and lofted a sacrifice fly. A walk to Don Hoak reloaded the bases, but Grim and the Yankees escaped when George Shuba, batting for Don Zimmer, grounded out. Nevertheless, the Dodger's lead had grown to 2-0. In the bottom of the sixth, Jim Gilliam moved from leftfield to second, and reserve Sandy Amoros replaced Gilliam in left. As the Bombers came to bat, Billy Martin drew a leadoff walk and Gil McDougald followed with a bunt single. Yogi Berra sliced a long drive just inside the foul pole in left field but Sandy Amoros charged the line and made a spectacular glove-hand catch. The winded outfielder followed with a picture perfect relay to Reese - who went to Hodges - who caught McDougald at 1st. The double-play was undoubtedly the most crucial of the entire Series as it prevented the Yankees from tying up the contest and having a runner in scoring position with no one out.
Despite surrendering eight hits and two walks, Podres managed to hold "the Pinstripes" at bay and entered the ninth with a two-run lead. Skowron started the Yankees' last at-bat by putting back to Podres for the easy out. Next Bob Cerv flied out to Amoros in left and Elston Howard grounded to shortstop Pee Wee Reese who made the schoolboy toss to Hodges to end the game. And then it was over, the Dodgers had finally beaten the Yankees for their first World Championship title. The "Bums from Brooklyn" would win another National League pennant the following year, but their days were numbered and they would play only two more seasons in the "Big Apple" before moving to sunny California.