1959 World Series
The 1959 World Series featured the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers beating the American League champion Chicago White Sox, four games to two.
It was the first pennant for the White Sox in 40 years (since the 1919 Black Sox Scandal). They would have to wait until 2005 to win another championship. The Dodgers won their first pennant since moving from Brooklyn in 1958 by defeating the Milwaukee Braves 2–0 in a best-of-three-games pennant playoff. It was the Dodgers' second World Series championship in five years, their first in Los Angeles, and marked the first Championship for a West Coast team. It was the first ever World Series in which no pitcher for either team pitched a complete game.
Vin Scully remarked at the beginning of the official World Series film, "What a change of scenery!" This was the first Series since 1948 in which no games were played in New York, breaking the streak of the city that documentary filmmaker Ken Burns later called the 1950s' "Capital of Baseball". The Yankees won the A.L. pennant every year from 1949 through 1964, except for 1954, when the Cleveland Indians finished first, and 1959 when the White Sox finished first. Al Lopez was the manager of both these teams.
The Dodgers found an unlikely hero when Chuck Essegian, who hit only one home run in 1959 and had only six in his career to that point, set a World Series record with two pinch-hit home runs.
Games 3, 4 and 5 were:
The first World Series games ever played on the West Coast;
The first ever played in Memorial Coliseum;
The only games in World Series history to exceed 90,000 in attendance: Game 5 drew 92,706 fans (a major league record as of 2008, unlikely to be broken under current arrangements, as no current MLB stadium has a capacity of even 70,000)
Larry Sherry of the Dodgers was the fifth pitcher in Series history to win the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. Sherry, who had been born with club feet, finished all four games the Dodgers won, winning two and saving two. His brother Norm was the Dodgers' backup catcher. The previous winning pitchers were:
Johnny Podres (Brooklyn, 1955)
Don Larsen (New York, 1956)
Lew Burdette (Milwaukee, 1957)
Bob Turley (New York, 1958)
Ted Kluszewski played for the losing "Pale Hose", but still managed to drive in a World Series record ten runs, and became the first player to have double-digit RBI totals for any length Series.
The Dodgers became the second team to win a World Series after relocating (the 1957 Milwaukee Braves being the first).
The 1950's had witnessed many changes throughout Major League baseball and as the game prepared to move into the '60's many had hoped that they would even the chances for parity across both leagues. The New York Yankees had dominated the entire decade, appearing in eight out of the last ten World Series. As a result, the Office of the Commissioner had unsuccessfully attempted to limit the "dynasty syndrome" and tired predictability of the postseason. First the league underwent its first alignment switch in fifty years in '53 with the transfer of the Boston Braves to Milwaukee. Then the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore in '54 followed by the shifting of the Philadelphia Athletics to Kansas City in '55. The biggest move however took place in '58, when the Brooklyn Dodger's moved to Los Angeles and their cross-town rival Giants left for San Francisco leaving the Yankees as the only remaining ball club in America's biggest city.
The California fans were eager for the arrival of their new franchises, especially Los Angeles, where the Dodgers were riding high after winning four National League pennants in six years. However, the newly penned "west coast rookies" crashed and burned their debut season, finishing two games out of last place. After some adjustment and changes in the clubhouse, the former "Bums from Brooklyn" rebounded for their seventh flag in thirteen years rising to the top of the National League in '59. In doing so they had also dethroned the two-time defending National League champs by beating the Milwaukee Braves in two consecutive games in a best-of-three playoff after the clubs finished in a first-place tie with 86-68 records. 1959 also saw the long-time return of the Chicago White Sox to the Fall Classic. The American League champs had not made a post-season appearance in four decades after the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal. Regardless, this year's effort was forty years coming and promised to be a legit outing.
Game 1 featured a standout effort from Chicago's Luis Aparicio who contributed at the plate (and around the bases) while pitchers Early Wynn (seven-plus innings) and Gerry Staley who took care of business the mound. Ted Kluszewski, (a late-August acquisition who hit forty or more home runs in a National League season three times) drove in five runs with a pair of two-run homers and a run-scoring single as Chicago embarrassed Los Angeles, 11-0.
In Game 2, Chicago right-hander Bob Shaw was guarding a 2-1 lead with two out in the seventh when Dodgers Manager Walter Alston sent up Chuck Essegian to bat for Johnny Podres (who had clinched Brooklyn's previous title in '55, but missed the entire '56 season due to military service.) Essegian came up clutch and launched a game-tying blast to left field. Jim Gilliam followed with a walk and Charlie Neal kept pace with a two-run homer to center. Larry Sherry (a twenty-four year old right-hander) was then called in to finish the final three innings and responded by holding the Sox to one run and three hits. The victory had sparked the National League champs as they eagerly returned to their new home for Game 3.
When the Dodgers last played at home in a World Series game it was in the cramped settings of Ebbets Field in front of 33,782 fans. This year they were sprawled out in the spacious Memorial Coliseum with an attendance of 92,394. In the "decade of change" it was no surprise that the line-up had also been modified significantly over the four year span. Roy Campanella, a '56 Series standout was now in a wheelchair after a 1958 automobile accident. In addition, Pee Wee Reese was now the team's coach and Don Newcombe, who had led the Dodger's rotation, was now in Cincinnati pitching for the Reds. Both teams remained in a deadlock for seven innings until Carl Furillo broke through with a two run single for a 3-1 win that also debuted the postseason pitching of a young Don Drysdale. Things remained quite the same for Game 4 as Los Angeles managed once again to break another tie late in the eighth for a 5-4 victory.
Anticipating ending the Series at home, the Dodgers introduced another up-and-coming talent from their young rotation, a twenty-three year old named Sandy Koufax. He was chosen to face Bob Shaw who had an 18-6 record during the regular season. The young lefty had not yet matured into the hall of famer that we know today and had compiled an unspectacular 28-27 record. Shaw, getting 1 2/3 innings of crucial help from reliever Dick Donovan, managed a 1-0 win in a game where the only run was scored on a double-play grounder (Lollar, in the fourth). The score would have been higher if not for a great defensive play from the Sox's Jim Rivera in the seventh. Inserted into the game just minutes earlier, the reserve right fielder made an outstanding running catch of Charlie Neal's two out blast that carried near the fence in center, with runners at both second and third.
Still alive (and at Comisky Park) for Game 6, Chicago planned to force a Game 7, but unfortunately, the Dodger's had other plans for the home team. Duke Snider led the charge with a two run homer off of Early Wynn in the third and Wally added a two run shot off of Donovan in the fourth. While starter Podres failed to be the pitcher of record this time around in the Dodgers' Series-clinching victory (lasting only 3 1/3 innings and surrendering a three run homer), Larry Sherry came through once more in relief. Pitching 5 2/3 innings of four hit baseball, he tallied his second victory of the contest. The Dodgers won the game (and the Series) 9-3, with Essegian "icing the cake" in the ninth with an unprecedented second pinch-hit homerun. In the end, Chicago may have finished with better overall stats in the contest (10 RBIs and a Series high .375 average from Ted Kluszewski) but the Dodgers went home with something a little more important than big numbers.