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Yankees' Fall Classics 1921-2003 (Continued)
by Michael Aubrecht, Copyright 2004


1953: Brooklyn Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)

In a classic rematch of the previous year's classic, "The Bronx Bombers" and "Dem' Bums from Brooklyn" returned for yet another "Subway Series". The Yankees were poised for their fifth consecutive championship title and the Dodgers were ready for revenge. Brooklyn had given their cross-town rivals a run for their money, but had come up short in Game 7 thanks to a miraculous catch by Billy Martin that stopped a late inning comeback. Many felt that this was their year as the pitching staff had come up big during the regular season. Carl Erskine led the rotation with twenty victories, Russ Meyer went 15-5 and Billy Loes boasted a 14-8 record. Preacher Roe posted an 11-3 total, boosting his three-year mark to 44-8 and Clem Labine won ten games in relief and eleven outings overall. The veterans weren't the only ones contributing as rookie pitchers Johnny Podres and Bob Milliken both combined for a 17-8 mark. This solid line-up on the mound enabled Charlie Dressen's team to win the National League pennant race by a staggering thirteen games over the newly moved Milwaukee Braves.

The '53 American League representative was the typical Yankees team that featured strong performances on both sides of the plate throughout the regular season. Yogi Berra (who hit .296) and Mickey Mantle (who batted .295) both combined for two-hundred runs batted in and Gene Woodling (.306) and Hank Bauer (.304) led the line-up in hitting. The Yankees top five pitchers were even better with a 74-30 record. Whitey Ford, who had returned from a military tour of duty, led the staff with eighteen victories and veteran Eddie Lopat, who topped the league with a 2.43 ERA.

Game 1 of the '53 Series began as Game 7 in '52 had ended with Billy Martin knocking the wind out of the Dodger's sails. The second baseman nailed a three-run triple in the first and went on to collect three more hits in the 9-5 opening victory. Berra and Joe Collins both hit homers for the Yankees, and Jim Gilliam, Gil Hodges and George Shuba contributed for the Dodgers. On a side note, Shuba's shot was the first "pinch homer" by a National League player in World Series history, but the record did little to numb Brooklyn's pain. Martin continued to plague the Dodger's pitching rotation in Game 2 by adding a game-tying, bases-empty homer in the seventh. Mantle also continued adding to his ever-growing, post-season stats with a two-run drive that nailed down Lopat's 4-2 win over Preacher Roe.

Things changed dramatically in Game 3, as it was the Dodgers besting the Yanks on the phenomenal arm of Carl Erskine. Brooklyn's leading ace set a World Series record of his own with fourteen strikeouts (four of them versus Mantle) and MVP Roy Campanella finished the job with a tie-breaking homer in the eighth that lifted Brooklyn to a 3-2 victory. Hitting was the decisive factor for the Dodgers in Game 4 as the ever-present Duke Snider contributed two doubles and a homerun along with Gilliam who had three doubles of his own for the 7-3 victory. Unfortunately, that was all they could muster and the Yankees would have little resistance for the rest of the contest.

Game 5 once again belonged to Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle who both knocked one out of the ballpark on the way to an 11-7, twenty-five hit blowout (Mantle's was a grand slam). Game 6 was a closer effort, but unbelievably, it would be Martin again who would seal his second Series victory in a row with the game-winning run in a 4-3 triumph. The combative second baseman had tallied twelve hits (a record), eight RBIs and a staggering .500 average against the Dodgers who had lost the Series for the seventh time in seven outings. The Yankees on the other hand, had won a record fifth consecutive title, were fifteen for sixteen in World Series appearances and had kept the trophy in the American League clubhouse for the seventh year in a row.


1955: Brooklyn Dodgers (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)

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.


1956: Brooklyn Dodgers (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)

Once again, the eyes of the baseball world were on the bright lights of New York City (for the fourth time in five years) as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees met on familiar ground for the coveted World Series championship. The "Bronx Bombers" had bested "the Bums" in three out of the four meetings, but it was the Dodgers who had the last laugh by winning their first title off a dominant Game 7 in '55. Things seemed to pick up right where they had left off for Games 1 and 2 as eleven different members of the Yankees pitching staff were crushed by Brooklyn's bats. The result was a devastating 6-3 opener and an equally crippling 13-8 loss that put the defending champions up two games to none. However as sports often shows us, adversity and pride can turn a sinking ship around. Amazingly the Yankees aces rebounded for five consecutive complete-game performances from five pitchers who combined to allow the Dodgers six runs and twenty-one hits in 45 2/3 innings. In Game 3, a three-run homer by late-August acquisition Enos Slaughter and eight-hit pitching by "The Chairman" Whitey Ford had rallied the Yankees to their first victory, while Tom Sturdivant's six-hitter and homers by both Hank Bauer and Mickey Mantle highlighted the American Leaguers' triumph in Game 4.

Despite their back-to-back comebacks, Game 5 is the most notable Yankees performance of the '56 Series (and perhaps one of the most notable in all of baseball). The 64,000+ fans in attendance that day could never have predicted that they were about to witness the birth of a record that would stand into the next millennium or that their ticket stubs would mature into a $2,000.00 piece of sports memorabilia. The Dodgers couldn't have predicted the beating they were about to take either. During the first inning, the Yankees' twenty-seven-year-old right-hander Don Larsen went to his first and only "ball three" count on Pee Wee Reese. From then on, the modest pitcher and his pinstriped teammates worked together on both sides of the plate to deliver an instant classic. In the second inning, Jackie Robinson smashed a line drive that was deflected by Yankees third baseman Andy Carey to shortstop Gil McDougald, who threw out Robinson at first. In the fourth inning, Mickey Mantle hit a low line drive into the right field seats (just inside the foul pole) giving New York the 1-0 lead. In retrospect, "home field advantage" and a little luck sometimes pays off big. If the game had been at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, "The Mick's" hit would have likely been off the right field screen for a mere double.

In the top of the fifth, Gil Hodges (a thirty-two home run man during the regular season) drove a pitch deep into left-center field and right into the outstretched glove of a sprinting Mantle. The spectacular effort has been christened by some as "The Catch" and has been replayed in countless highlight films throughout the years. The next batter, Sandy Amoros, almost spoiled the masterpiece with a line drive toward the right field corner but it curved foul and just missed being a home run. It was a sign of the inevitable as the Dodgers would not get any other opportunities. As the game progressed, so did the anticipation of the crowd and the superstition of the players. Most of the Yankees avoided the pitcher completely in the dugout and even the Yankees' skipper got involved in attempting to preserve Larsen's marvelous momentum. As the ninth inning came to a close, Larsen got a called third strike on pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell to end the game and set off a wild celebration that began with catcher Yogi Berra leaping high into his arms for one of baseball's most photographic moments.

Brooklyn's Clem Labine went against Bob Turley for Game 6 and had his team's revenge with an "almost as impressive" 1-0, ten-inning shutout that ended after an Enos Slaughter error turned Robinson's bottom-of-the-tenth drive into a game-winning single. Don Newcombe, a standout on the Dodgers' staff and Johnny Kucks, a Yankee sophomore, matched for the decisive Game 7. Newcombe had just become the first recipient of the Cy Young Award after his twenty-seven victory season in '56, but still had yet to dominate a single postseason outing. Nothing changed in Game 7 as the veteran was knocked for a pair of two-run homers by Berra (who hit a grand slam off him in Game 2) and a bases-empty home run by Elston Howard. Bill Skowron stepped up to the plate in the seventh and finished the job with a grand slam of his own off of Roger Craig who had replaced Newcombe in relief. Kucks returned the favor and held the defending champions to just three-hits in a 9-0 triumph that completed the revival of the New Yorkers' pitching staff and returned the Yankees to post season glory.

No game would compare to Game 5 though and no other pitcher would even come close to Larsen's numbers. The Yankee ace pitched another three years in New York before bouncing from team to team over the final seven seasons of a fourteen year career. He retired in 1967 with a forgettable career record of 81-91, failing again to ever approach the heights he achieved on that October afternoon in 1956. Still, he is mainly remembered for being perfect where perfection is simply not possible and his record stands to this very day.


1957: Milwaukee Braves (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)

As predicted (and as usual) the New York Yankees continued to dominate the American League on their way to their twenty-second Fall Classic with what seemed like a never-ending line-up of superstars. Manager Casey Stengel had already become the most successful skipper in postseason history and many fans were beginning to wonder if "The Curse of the Bambino" had rubbed off on the rest of the American League. Their counterpart was an up-and-coming franchise that lacked the familiar line-up card, but equally dominated the National League on the way to their third pennant. The Milwaukee Braves were a definite contender and featured a "big gun" outfielder named Henry Aaron. "Hank" as he was called, tallied forty-four home runs, one-hundred thirty-two runs batted in and batted .322 in only his fourth season. He was backed up by third baseman Eddie Mathews who knocked out thirty-two home runs of his own and outfielder Wes Covington who added twenty-one in ninety-six games. Defensively the Braves were stacked with Del Crandall behind the plate, Johnny Logan and Red Schoendienst serving as the keystone combination and Billy Bruton in centerfield. Burton was eventually replaced after a knee injury by Bob Hazle who batted a phenomenal .403 in forty-one games. On the mound, Milwaukee's rotation boasted fifty-six wins from Warren Spahn (who had twenty wins for the eighth season), Bob Buhl and Lew Burdette. The National League champs were a well-balanced team indeed and a perfect candidate to match up with the perennial champion Yankees.

Game 1 opened in New York with Series veteran Whitey Ford tossing a five-hitter that ended as a 3-1 victory, but the Braves answered back the next day with a Burdette 4-2 win. Game 3 moved the Series to Milwaukee and an unwanted "hometown hero" named Tony Kubek made a triumphant return. The twenty year-old rookie, who doubled as both a utility outfielder and infielder, nailed two homeruns for the Yanks on the way to an embarrassing 12-3 thrashing of the home team. Spahn was determined to retrieve the respect the Braves had lost in their own house and carried a 4-1 lead in Game 4 going into the ninth. After retiring the first two batters and holding a 3-2 count on Elston Howard, the Milwaukee ace blinked and surrendered a game-tying home run into the left-field stands. Then, in the top of the tenth, Hank Bauer tripled home Kubek, and the Yankees, (who were one strike away from defeat), pulled ahead, 5-4. Nippy Jones led off for the Braves as a pinch-hitter for Spahn. Umpire Augie Donatelli called Tommy Byrne's first pitch a ball, but the thirty-two year-old reserve infielder argued that he had been struck on the foot. In an effort to prove his point, Jones retrieved the baseball, showed Donatelli a smudge of shoe polish on it and was awarded his base. Felix Mantilla was sent in to run for Jones and scored on a Johnny Logan double off of Bob Grim. With the game tied, 5-5, Eddie Mathews put his team over the top by belting a home run to right for the 7-5 comeback.

The Braves entered Game 5 with a renewed vigor and a controversial pitcher who had evened the score in Game 2. Lew Burdette had been criticized throughout his career for using the "spitball" technique and many fans had suspected that the right-hander had prospered (eighty-five wins over six seasons) by practicing the illegal toss. Despite the mounting questions, Burdette bested Whitey Ford for another clutch 1-0 performance. The Yankees Gil McDougald almost changed the outcome with a leadoff drive to deep left-field, but Wes Covington saved the day with a wall jumping grab. Milwaukee then scored the game's only run in the sixth. After two were out, Mathews, Aaron and Joe Adcock all singled. For Adcock, the timely hit was well overdue after a long frustrating year at the plate. After slugging thirty-eight home runs in '56, he had managed a meager twelve homers in sixty-five games.

Game 6 remained anyone's for seven innings until Hank Bauer launched a rocket off of Braves reliever Ernie Johnson, who otherwise pitched brilliantly in a 4 1/3-inning effort. Milwaukee made it interesting with a 2-2 tie in the top of the inning on a bases-empty homer by Aaron. Earlier, Yogi Berra had belted a two-run shot for the Yanks and Frank Torre had connected for the Braves. Besides surrendering the two homers, Yankees right-hander Bob Turley allowed only two other hits. In a bizarre twist, one year and two days after his perfect Game 5 against Brooklyn, Don Larsen had another chance to be a hero in Game 7. Unfortunately, in a rare instance for the Yankees, history did not repeat itself and the young righty didn't even make it through the third-inning. After Mathews tagged him for a two-run double, Larsen allowed the Braves to score four times. Del Crandall tacked on another run in the eighth giving Burdette his second shutout and a World Championship title.

In the end, the questioned pitcher had not only clinched the Series for Milwaukee, he had done so with three complete-game victories (with or without his "spitball"). Aaron had remained the Braves top standout throughout the postseason with three home runs, seven runs batted in and a spectacular .393 average. Although the Yankees had continued to add American League pennants to their collection, they had now lost two out of three World Series and both teams would find themselves in a classic rematch the following year.


1958: Milwaukee Braves (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)

Almost a year to the day, the defending champion Milwaukee Braves and perennial champion New York Yankees met again for the second time in as many years. The National League champions had surprised everyone the previous year after overcoming an early deficit to dominate their American League rivals for the remainder of the Series. For the first time, (in a long time) the Bronx Bombers were not the heavy favorites after losing two of the last three Fall Classics. It was new territory for Casey Stengel's Yankees and they were determined to even it up. Many New York sports writers had already turned on their home team and several quoted predictions of the end of baseball's greatest dynasty.

Game 1 featured Warren Spahn going against Whitey Ford for a quick 4-3 opening victory. Things were not as close in Game 2 as the Braves' Lew Burdette (a three complete-game winner in '57) showed his talents on the other side of the plate with a three-run blast that capped off a seven-run rally in the first. He continued his balanced attack by holding the Yankees to just two runs and three hits going into the ninth. Things changed quickly however, as he was shelled for four hits resulting in three runs. The Yankees Hank Bauer had a late-inning homer and Mickey Mantle added his second of the day. Over the course of his career "The Mick" would go on to set the all-time World Series home run record that still stands to this day. Both efforts went in vain though as Milwaukee went on to a crushing, 13-5 triumph. The third outing took the Series in a completely different direction as Don Larsen and Ryne Duren both combined for a 4-0 shutout that left the hitters on both benches high and dry. Bauer in fact, was the only slugger to generate any offense with a bases-loaded single and a two-run homer that extended his Series hitting streak to seventeen games. The record wouldn't last long though as Warren Spahn would outdo the Yankees outfielder the very next day.

Down three games to one, New York was nearing the end of an era and the Braves were on the verge of clinching their second consecutive title. Burdette returned to face Bob Turley (a twenty-one game winner) in a final showdown. Backed by Gil McDougald's bases-empty homer in the third, Elston Howard's spectacular snatch (and double play) off Red Schoendienst's sixth-inning liner and a six-run rally against Burdette and reliever Juan Pizarro in the bottom of the sixth, Turley emerged a 7-0 winner by giving up only five-hits and chalking up ten strikeouts. Things remained in their favor the following day as the Yanks squared the Series with a 4-3, ten-inning victory in Game 6.

For the second straight year, Larsen would be chosen as the Yankees' starting pitcher in Game 7. And for the second straight year, he lasted exactly three innings before hitting the showers. A short-rested Turley returned in relief and after escaping a bases-loaded situation in the third, held a 2-1 lead over Burdette and the Braves entering the Milwaukee sixth. With two out, though, Del Crandall belted a game-tying home run. After both clubs were held scoreless in the seventh, Burdette retired the first two Yankees in the eighth. Fortunately for New York, the Braves luck was about to run out. First, Yogi Berra tagged the Milwaukee ace for a double. Then, Elston Howard followed suite with a go-ahead single. Andy Carey singled off of third baseman Eddie Mathews' glove and finally Skowron crashed a devastating home run to left-center, The Yankees were ahead, 6-2, and the score did not change. With Turley yielding only a single run and two-hits in 6 2/3 innings of relief, the Yankees managed to beat the odds for their eighteenth World Series title.

The surprise comeback had not only restored the Yankees to their previous stature, it had also tied a record as they became only the second team (1925 Pittsburgh Pirates) to rally back from a 3-1 deficit to win baseball's most prestigious crown. Hank Bauer (who was a nine-Series veteran) led with most runs scored (six), most hits (ten), most home runs (four) and most runs batted in (eight). He also topped the Yankees sluggers with a .323 average. Despite less-than-stellar stats in his first four Classics (seven for fifty-seven with a .123 avg.), he combined for eighteen hits, six home runs, fourteen RBIs and a .290 average against the Braves in '57 and '58.


1960: Pittsburgh Pirates (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)

After a thirty-five year hiatus, baseball's first modern National League champions (1901), the Pittsburgh Pirates finally returned to the Fall Classic. Their opponent, the American League's New York Yankees had participated in eight of the last ten contests and only had to wait one year to get back to the big show. Pittsburgh had no problem knocking off their "postseason cobwebs" and started strong with an opening 6-4 lead against the perennial champs in Game 1 at Forbes Field. However, their initial momentum was cut short as the Yanks dominated Games 2 and 3. Mickey Mantle did more than his share (two home runs and five runs batted in) and his teammates followed close behind totaling nineteen hits off of six different Pirate pitchers. The result was a 16-3 victory in the Steel City and a 10-0 shutout back home in the Bronx. Bobby Richardson took Mantle's example in the opener and added a grand slam off of reliever Clem Labine in the third and a two run single giving him a record six RBIs. "The Mick" responded with two more home runs of his own and three other hits, while Whitey Ford tossed his usual four hitter.

A determined Pirate team went back to the basics and gave the ball to first-game winner Vern Law for Game 4. The National League's Cy Young Award winner, combined with relief ace Roy Face to beat back the Yankees, 3-2 in an outing that was decided on Bill Virdon's single in the fifth that scored two of Pittsburgh runs. Attempting to avoid a comeback, New York made a controversial decision and decided to go with Game 1 loser, Art Ditmar, who had only lasted 1/3 of an inning. Some believed (in retrospect) that Stengel had thought the "Bucs" would underestimate the young pitcher, giving him the advantage. Unfortunately the Yankees skipper was wrong as Bill Mazeroski took him for a key-double in the Pirate's three run, second inning. Face returned with 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief after replacing starter and winner Harvey Haddix to nail down the 5-2 triumph, which put Pittsburgh in the lead.

It was a completely different story in Game 6 as the day belonged to the "Bronx Bombers". Richardson had two triples, Johnny Blanchard added two doubles, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra (and Blanchard) all collected three hits each and before it over, the Yankees finished with seventeen hits and twelve runs. Whitey Ford added to the "Buccos" embarrassment by shutting them out again and many felt that it was all but over. Despite forcing another opportunity at their own Forbes Field, Pittsburgh had clearly been dominated by New York who outscored them a staggering 38-3 in the Series. However, Game 7 would erase those numbers and leave fans in both agony and ecstasy.

Vern Law and the rest of the Pirates showed why they were still there by rolling over New York to take an early 4-0 lead. However, the Yankees came back with key performances at the plate by Bill Skowron, Mantle and Yogi Berra who shot to a 5-4 lead going into the eighth inning. They continued to lead 7-5 and looked to be in great shape as reliever Bobby Shantz appeared at the top of his game. Fortunately for the Pirates, appearances can sometimes be deceiving.

Gino Cimoli led off the Pittsburgh eighth with a pinch-single and Bill Virdon hit a sharp grounder toward Yankees' shortstop, Tony Kubek. After the speeding ball took a bad hop and struck Kubek in the throat (resulting in a single), Joe DeMaestri was summoned to replace him as both Pirates remained on base. Dick Groat followed with another single cutting the lead to 7-5 and Roberto Clemente kept the rally going with an infield hit that scored Virdon and advanced Groat to third. Now trailing 7-6, Pittsburgh had two runners on base and Hal Smith at the plate. Smith, who entered the game in the top of the eighth after Pirates catcher Smoky Burgess had left for a pinch-runner in the previous inning, sent shock waves through the Pittsburgh crowd by blasting a timely home run over the left-field wall.

Bob Friend, an eighteen game winner for the Pirates and the "Bucs" starter in Games 2 and 6, came on in the ninth to try to protect the 9-7 lead. The Yankees Bobby Richardson and pinch-hitter Dale Long both greeted Friend with singles and Pirates manager, Danny Murtaugh was forced to lift the veteran pitcher in favor of Harvey Haddix. Although he forced Roger Maris to foul out, Haddix gave up a key single to Mantle that scored Richardson and moved Long to third. Berra followed suite hitting short grounder to first, with Rocky Nelson stepping on the base for the second out. In what, at the time, stood as a monumental play, Mantle, seeing he had no chance to beat a play at second, scurried back to first and avoided Nelson's tag (which would have been the third out) as McDougald raced home to tie the score, 9-9. The Yankees were still alive.

Ralph Terry, who had gotten the final out in the Pirates' eighth, returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth to finish the job. The first man he faced was Bill Mazeroski. With a count of one ball and no strikes, the Pirates' second baseman smashed a historical long drive over the wall in left ending the contest and crowning the National League as champions. As the Pirates erupted in a wild celebration, the Yankees stood in disbelief knowing that they had clearly dominated the series, but were unable to finish the task. The improbable champions were outscored, 55-27, and out-hit, 91-60, but in the end the home team prevailed. Years later, Mickey Mantle was quoted as saying that losing the 1960 series was the biggest disappointment of his career. For Bill Mazeroski, it was the highlight.


1961: Cincinnati Reds (1) vs. New York Yankees (4)

The 1961 season witnessed one of the most amazing performances in all of baseball as Yankees teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris went head-to-head for the all-time, single-season homerun record set by another slugger in pinstripes named Babe Ruth. Both men were extremely gifted athletes on both sides of the ball and their friendship and competitiveness was second to none. The press had dubbed them "The M&M Boys" and their story is an incredible example of what impact sports can have when two teammates who are as opposite as can be, come together to create something special. In the previous season, in his first game in Yankee pinstripes, Maris singled, doubled, and smacked two home runs. His MVP numbers included a league leading one-hundred twelve runs batted in and thirty-nine home runs, only one behind league-leader Mantle although he missed eighteen games with injuries. However, in 1961, Maris stayed healthy and played in one-hundred sixty-one games, (his career high). As he and Mantle made their charge at Babe Ruth's home run record, the Yankees considered switching Maris (who batted third) and Mantle (fourth), to give "The Mick" (clearly the fan favorite) a better shot. Many experts feel that if the switch had been made, Maris almost certainly would not have broken the record.

Regardless of the decision, Mantle fell back in the middle of September when he suffered a serious infection in his hip. Maris kept it up and went into the one-hundred fifty-fourth game of the season in Baltimore with fifty-eight homers. He gave it his best shot that night, hitting No. 59 and then launched a long foul on his second-to-last at bat. Unfortunately, in his last at-bat (against Hoyt Wilhelm) he hit a disappointing, checked-swing grounder. Despite the setback, Maris remained determined and finally passed "The Bambino" on the last day of the season against the Red Sox's Tracy Stallard. Fittingly, it went about 340 feet into Yankee Stadium's right field porch. Maris also finished the regular season with back-to-back MVP honors, driving in a league leading one-hundred forty-two runs. As expected Ford C. Frick ruled that since Maris had played in a one-hundred sixty-two game schedule (as opposed to Ruth's one-hundred fifty-four game schedule), his record would be listed officially with a qualifying asterisk; this decision stood until 1991. Although, he never experienced the same hitting streak, his consistency as a power hitter continued and he hit two-hundred seventy-five home runs during his twelve year career.

As expected, the rest of the '61Yankees were at the top of their game (winning one-hundred nine) while attempting to forget the devastating loss in the previous years Series after the Pirates Bill Mazeroski hit "the shot heard round the world" in Game 7. New York, which had surprisingly dismissed Casey Stengel after the '60 Series, was now under the guidance of Ralph Houk. The new skipper was a former reserve catcher and coach for the Yanks who practiced a slightly more modern philosophy than his long-time predecessor. Whitey Ford continued to dominate on the mound and finished with an amazing 25-4 record and relief ace Luis Arroyo had a masterful season going 15-5, with a 2.19 ERA.

Their rivals, the Cincinnati Reds had climbed to the top of the National League on the solid arm of Joey Jay (a .500 career pitcher in Milwaukee but a twenty-one game winner in Cincinnati). Many fans felt that it would be a showdown between pitchers and did not anticipate any high-scoring events despite the lumber wielding line-ups. Whitey Ford proved the predictions right in the first game while holding the Reds to two measly singles for a 2-0 victory at home in the Bronx. Jim O'Toole had pitched extremely well throughout the opener, but fell victim to the '61 Yankees signature otherwise known as the home run. After all, they had belted two-hundred forty during the regular season and boasted the newly crowned "King of Swing" in Maris. The Red's newest ace, Jay was given the start for Game 2 and promptly answered back with a 6-2 masterpiece of his own. After trading runs early on, the Reds pulled ahead on catcher Elston Howard's passed ball, which followed singles by Elio Chacon and Eddie Kasko. Johnny Edwards extended the lead to 4-2 with a run-scoring single in the sixth and a throwing error by Yankees reliever Luis Arroyo as well as an RBI double by Edwards netted the Reds their final two runs in the eighth.

Game 3 returned the contest to Cincinnati for the first time in twenty-one years and the home team looked to maintain their momentum with a 2-1 lead going into the eighth inning. Bob Purkey had tossed an impressive four hitter, but was nailed by Johnny Blanchard, who had contributed mightily to the Yanks long ball rally with twenty-one homers (in only two-hundred forty-three at-bats) during the regular season. The pinch-hitter / reserve catcher / outfielder stepped up in place of Bud Daley and belted his twenty-second home run deep into the right-field bleachers. Maris, who was hitless in ten Series at-bats led off the ninth and hammered his sixty-second of the year into the same seats as Blanchard. As the Reds took their turn, Arroyo was sent in to finish the job and induced pinch-hitters Dick Gernert and Gus Bell to ground out, ending the game.

Whitey Ford returned in Game 4 to build on his Series scoreless-inning streak of twenty-seven and eyed up another one of Babe Ruth's records of twenty-nine. The Yankees veteran had no problem adding five more innings before leaving in the sixth with an ankle problem. By then his team had a four-run lead thanks to Clete Boyer's two-run double in the sixth. Jim Coates who had replaced the "The Chairman" tossed four innings of one hit relief while Mantle, who was limited to six Series at-bats, was replaced by Hector Lopez, who hammered a two run single in the seventh on the way to a 7-0 final. In Game 5, the "Bronx Bombers" picked right up where they had left off scoring five runs in the first-inning. In the fourth, they added five more and steamrolled over the Reds 13-5 for the closing win and the title.

Although the "The M&M Boys" had managed only three hits and two RBIs in twenty-five at-bats, Blanchard and Lopez compensated with ten runs while going 7-19. Lopez had even gone further with an amazing seven RBIs in nine at-bats. As predicted originally, pitching was the determining factor in the '61 Series as Ford, Coates and Daley went twenty-five innings without surrendering a single earned-run.


1962: San Francisco Giants (3) vs. New York Yankees (4)

Over the last few decades, the defending champion New York Yankees had made an art out of dominating the American League on the way to their twenty-fifth Fall Classic. It was becoming all-too-predictable and the early 1960's were looking a lot like the 50's when the "Pinstripes" played in eight out of the ten world championships. On the other side of the ball, the National League's representatives were a familiar opponent to the Yanks as well as former "roommates". The Giants had finally recaptured the National League pennant for the first time since moving across the country to San Francisco (after the 1957 season) and it seemed fitting that the prelude to this "Subway Series" revival was a playoff between the Los Angeles Dodgers who used to call Brooklyn their home.

Series veteran Whitey Ford was given his usual Game 1 start by the Yanks sophomore manager Ralph Houk and extended his World Series consecutive-innings scoreless streak to thirty-three before San Francisco got on the scoreboard in the second inning. The Giants Billy O'Dell kept pace with "The Chairman" through six innings, but finally surrendered to Clete Boyer and his fellow "Bombers" in the closing innings for a 6-2 loss. Jack Sanford got revenge the following day though with a three hit, 2-0 shutout that evened the contest at a game apiece. Billy Pierce continued the cycle in Game 3, blanking the Yankees through six innings until the newly crowned single-season homerun leader, Roger Maris, broke through the deadlock with a two run single in the seventh and eventually scored on a force-out grounder. Yankees closer Bill Stafford almost blew it in the ninth after giving up a two run blast of his own to Ed Bailey, but managed to pull it together for the 3-2 victory.

Game 4 featured a rare break-out performance at the plate by the Giants' Chuck Hiller. An unlikely threat to the Yankees power pitching, the second baseman had hit only twenty home runs in his eight year Major League career. Those numbers didn't matter though as he nailed a bases-loaded homer off of Yankees reliever Marshall Bridges in the seventh. It was the first grand-slam ever in a World Series outing by a National Leaguer and snapped the two all tie that resulted in a San Francisco victory at Yankees Stadium. In a strange twist the winning Giants reliever was none other than Don Larsen who (exactly six years earlier to the day) pitched his record-setting perfect game for the home team against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ralph Terry, who had gone 0-4 in Series outings finally managed to cross over in Game 5. As with the rest of the outings, both teams were locked in a tie late in the game. This time, it was Tom Tresh's turn to take the lead. The New York rookie hammered a three run, eighth-inning homer off Sanford who lost the game despite putting up ten K's in 7 1/3 innings. After a five day absence (due to travel and three rain delays) the Series returned with the Giants well rested and ready to even the score. Billy Pierce's three hitter and Cepeda's three hits and two RBIs netted San Francisco's the crucial 5-2 triumph that held the Fall Classic at a 3-3 standoff.

Terry, who had given up the deciding blast to Bill Mazeroski in the 1960 heart-breaker, returned for the start in Game 7 and responded by holding the Giants to just two hits (and a 1-0 lead) going into the ninth. The Yankees pitcher had found some redemption winning twenty-three games during the regular season in '62 and was on his way to a complete-game victory. Pinch-hitter Matty Alou led off the inning with a perfect bunt for base one, but Terry answered back by striking out both Felipe Alou and Hiller. Willie Mays, who had just completed a phenomenal forty-nine homer, one-hundred forty-one RBI season, rose to the occasion and blasted a double to right field. Maris made a sprinting grab and managed to reach cutoff man Bobby Richardson to hold Alou at third. Despite the great defensive stand by the Yankees, clean-up man, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda were due up next. During the regular season, McCovey had tallied twenty home runs and fifty-four RBIs while Cepeda added thirty-five homers and one-hundred forty-four runs batted in. Houk elected to keep Terry in, believing the right-hander would handle the Giants lefty. With a one ball, one strike count on McCovey, Terry brought the heat, but the Giants slugger sent the offering toward right field. Second baseman Richardson moved slightly to his left and desperately reached up with his glove snagging the ball and another World Series title.

Once again, the mighty Yanks had been able to hold off a worthy opponent despite failing to win consecutive games at any point in the Series and getting .174 and .120 batting marks from two of their biggest threats, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. Their less-than stellar stats were certainly a compliment to the Giants pitching staff as the "The M&M Boys" had posted one-hundred seventy-eight home runs combined in the last two seasons. It mattered little though as the American League's dynasty had proven that they were back and ready for more.


1963: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. New York Yankees (0)

The National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers had rebounded from a late-season collapse in 1962 and went on to win the National League pennant with a six game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The biggest factor in the team's comeback was an all-star pitching combination featuring a young lefty named Sandy Koufax and a right-hander named Don Drysdale. Koufax had struck out a staggering three-hundred six batters in three-hundred eleven innings and his counterpart had won nineteen games with a 2.63 ERA. Veteran Johnny Podres had added fourteen wins of his own (five of them shutouts) and ace reliever Ron Perranoski made sixty-nine appearances while going 16-3 with a 1.67 ERA. Their opponents, to no surprise, were their long-time rivals the New York Yankees, who in classic "Bomber style", boasted four sluggers with twenty or more home runs and an equally qualified pitching rotation. Whitey Ford had twenty-four victories and Jim Bouton, Ralph Terry and Al Downing prospered as well winning the American League pennant by 10½ games. It was the seventh meeting in the Fall Classic between the two ball clubs with the American Leaguers leading the marathon 6-1.

Koufax went against Ford in the opener and quickly set the pace by striking out his first five batters including Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Before the Yankees had a single hit off the rising left-hander, his team was up 4-0. Former Yankee Bill Skowron (who had been obtained after the '62 Series) singled home a Dodger run in the top of the second and John Roseboro cracked a three run homer later that inning. He added another run in the third and Koufax continued to dominate at the mound. After four innings, the Yankees were still waiting for their first base runner and things would not get much better. After sitting down Mantle, the Dodger ace forced Maris to foul out, but allowed the "Pinstripes" to load the bases on consecutive singles by Elston Howard, Joe Pepitone and Clete Boyer. The threat quickly disappeared though as Hector Lopez (batting for Ford) became the eleventh K victim. After striking out pinch-hitter Phil Linz in the eighth, Koufax had moved one K within Carl Erskine's single Series game strikeout record of fourteen. The record would have to wait though as a late-inning homer by Tresh stalled the impending celebration, but it was only a matter of time. The first three of New York's final four outs in Koufax's 5-2 triumph came on a grounder, a liner and a fly ball. The last out of the game was record-breaking strikeout No. 15, with pinch-hitter Harry Bright submitting the score.

Podres attempted to keep Los Angeles's momentum alive in Game 2 and combined with two out relief from Perranoski to beat the Yankees, 4-1. Willie Davis set the pace at the plate with a two run double in the first and was followed by Skowron's homer in the fourth. Adding to the Yankees frustration was the Series-ending injury to outfielder Roger Maris who was hurt running into a rail in pursuit of a Tommy Davis triple. With a two-games-to-none lead, the Dodgers returned to their newly christened west coast palace known as Dodger Stadium. Don Drysdale made the homecoming even sweeter with a three hit, 1-0 victory that ended with nine more strikeouts for the Yankees. Bouton had completed the outing while holding his own, but surrendered the critical game-winning run in the first on Jim Gilliam's walk, a wild pitch and a single by Tommy Davis, who had just captured his second straight National League batting championship.

In a classic rematch of the Series opener, Ford and Koufax went at it again as one pitcher tried to complete a sweep and the other attempted to keep his team alive. Both adversaries held each other scoreless until the fifth inning when the Dodger's Frank Howard launched a rocket homer to left. Mantle evened the score with a blast of his own in the seventh after going a miserable one for thirteen in Series at bats. Maury Wills, known primarily for his speed (one-hundred four steals in '62) regained the lead for the Dodgers in the bottom of the inning and from there on it was all Los Angeles. First, Gilliam led off the eighth with a high-bouncer that resulted in a critical Yankees infield error between Pepitone and Boyer who had missed to connect on the throw. Then, Willie Davis came in with a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored his leadoff man. Finally, Koufax stayed in to finish the job and went on for the six hit, eight K, 2-1 triumph that not only swept the Yankees, but also ended their latest consecutive Series winning streak at two.


1964: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)

After another devastating loss in the previous year's Classic, a different New York Yankees team returned to represent the American League in 1964. Yogi Berra had replaced Ralph Houk at the helm and under his guidance, the Yanks managed to barely win the American League pennant by a single game over the Chicago White Sox. It was the fifteenth World Series for the former Yankee catcher as Berra had first appeared in the contest in 1947 and went on play in a record seventy-five games before his last outing in 1963. Many of his former teammates had remained in New York as Mickey Mantle prepared to play in his twelfth postseason exhibition, Whitey Ford entered his eleventh and Bobby Richardson posted his ninth appearance. Roger Maris, who was only in his fifth season as a Yankee, had never missed the World Series since donning the blue pinstripes. Their opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals had just missed the previous year's contest by finishing six games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (who had dethroned the once-mighty Yankees in a four game sweep) and were determined to follow suite. Much like their American League rivals though, the Cards had a lot of luck to thank for their latest post-season opportunity. First the Nationals lost their General Manager in mid-August, but managed to climb from fifth to first (with considerable help from the Philadelphia Phillies, who blew a 6½ game league lead with twelve games to play).

Whitey Ford, always a postseason standout, held onto a 4-2 lead going into the sixth inning of the opener, but St. Louis right fielder Mike Shannon hammered a long two run homer off the veteran lefty and when catcher Tim McCarver followed with a double, the thirty-five year-old Ford was through for the day, and (because of arm problems) the Series. The 9-5 loss of Game 1 as well as their #1 ace should have been a sign for what was to come as the Yanks were now experiencing a new kind of streaků a losing one. The opening fiasco was their fifth consecutive loss in World Series play and for the first time (in a long time) the Yankees were the underdogs.

In an attempt to jumpstart his team, Berra gave the Game 2 ball to an up-and-coming rookie named Mel Stottlemyre who went against Cardinal ace Bob Gibson. Stottlemyre had thrown strong down the home stretch (after getting called up from Richmond in August) and was a deciding factor for New York in the close American League pennant race. Both pitchers stood firm until Gibson left the game and his relief surrendered four ninth inning runs for an 8-3 loss that put the "Bombers" back in the race. Game 3 followed the same script as veteran Curt Simmons and the Yankees' Jim Bouton were locked in a 1-1 tie through eight innings. Manager Johnny Keane used a pinch-hitter for Simmons in the ninth as the Cards threatened, but failed, to score. Barney Schultz, a clutch reliever for St. Louis, entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and threw one pitch, which Mantle promptly launched into the right-field stands for the 2-1 win. Ray Sadecki started Game 4 against the Yanks Al Downing, but was taken for three quick first inning runs. Downing faired better and protected the lead going into the fifth, but the lefty was nailed by Ken Boyer for a grand-slam in the following inning. With relievers Roger Craig and Ron Taylor combining for 8 2/3 innings of two hit, scoreless relief, St. Louis went on to even the Series with a 4-3 victory.

Bob Gibson returned for Game 5 and was one out away from a 2-0 victory when the Yanks' Tom Tresh ripped a two run homer that tied it up. Gibson prevailed however, after Tim McCarver came up huge with a three run blast off of Yanks reliever Pete Mikkelsen for the 5-3 victory. Game 6 witnessed yet another nail-biter as the contest remained tied 1-1 going into the sixth. This time it was the Yankees coming up big with two consecutive home runs by Mantle and Maris and a grand slam by Joe Pepitone off reliever Gordon Richardson in the eighth. When it was over, New York had won 8-3 while staying alive and forcing a final Game 7.

Stottlemyre and Gibson both returned for the climatic finale and held each other scoreless through three innings. Then the Cardinals broke loose for three runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, touched off by a home run by Lou Brock. Brock (a mid-June acquisition from the Cubs) proved to be a brilliant investment during the regular season after stealing thirty-three bases and batting .348 in one-hundred three games. Mantle responded with a three run homer in the sixth and Clete Boyer and Phil Linz both followed "The Mick's" lead in the ninth. Despite their efforts, Gibson stood tall and finished the complete-game with a 7-5 Cardinal triumph.

The Boyer brothers had both come up big for their respective teams and set a record as the first set of brothers to hit home runs in the same Series. Ken had contributed two for St. Louis and Clete added one for New York (with one for each coming in the same game). For the Cardinals, it was the end of a long postseason drought as they had not appeared in the Fall Classic since 1946. For the Yankees, it was the end of an era as the perennial champions were about to start a drought of their own. Within two years, the American League dynasty would fall from first to last and it would be several years before returning to their former glory (twelve years). It was the last World Series appearance for many regulars including Mantle (who set the all-time Series home run record at eighteen), Ford, Richardson, Kubek and Boyer. Howard would appear in the Classic once more (with the Boston Red Sox) and Maris was destined to play in two more with the Cardinals. Both managers were also fired after the Series, but in a strange twist, it would be the unemployed Cardinals skipper Johnny Keane who resurfaced in a Yankees uniform as Yogi Berra's replacement.


1976: Cincinnati Reds (4) vs. New York Yankees (0)

The 1976 season witnessed the return of baseball's most successful postseason-dynasty to the Fall Classic. After a twelve year hiatus, the New York Yankees had rebuilt themselves back into the American League champions of old. After the team was purchased by a cunning-businessman named George Steinbrenner (in 1972) they filled several gaps with some shrewd trading and finished in third during the '75 season. This year, former "Bronx Bomber" Billy Martin was at the helm and his crew consisted of several standouts including Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle and Jim "Catfish" Hunter (who had made good on his threat to Oakland).

It seemed fitting that the perennial champions were to face the defending champions as the Cincinnati Reds returned for their second consecutive Classic. Manager Sparky Anderson may not have had a ship, but he did have "The Big Red Machine" and it ran on cylinders like Tony Perez at first, Joe Morgan at second, Pete Rose at third, Dave Concepcion at shortstop and George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey on the grass. They also boasted one of the best pitching rotations in all of Major League baseball. Gary Nolan led the pitching staff with fifteen victories, Pat Darcy won fourteen, and Fred Norman and Jack Billingham each won twelve games. Their bullpen was just as good with Don Gullett, Santo Alcala and Rawly Eastwick who each tallied eleven victories for a combined 33-12 record. The Reds had also remained one of the most consistent ball clubs in the league winning one-hundred eight games in '75, ninety-eight in '74 and ninety-nine in '73.

Cincinnati hosted the Series opener at Riverfront Stadium and showed their hometown fans who was in charge. Morgon launched a first-inning homer, Perez added three hits of his own and Gullett and reliever Pedro Borbon combined on a five hitter for the 5-1 victory. Game 2 looked much the same as Perez snuck a two out single in the ninth to score Griffey for the 4-3 win. Hunter had retired the Reds' first two batters, but New York shortstop Fred Stanley's throwing error on Griffey's roller put the National League champs back in business. The Yankees may have been back as well, but the dust and cobwebs were certainly showing. As the Series returned to the "not-so familiar" surroundings of Yankee Stadium (due to the two year long modernizing process that had sent the Yanks to Shea from '74-'76) the Reds continued to dominate the home team. Perhaps "The Babe" was displeased with his new décor as the "Big Red Machine" became the "Bronx Bombers" for a day. With the American League's designated-hitter rule being used in the Series for the first time, Dan Driessen cracked a homer and went three-for-three while helping the Reds to a third, 6-2 victory. On the other side, shortstop Jim Mason managed the only home run for the Yankees (in his only career at-bat ever in a Series).

Now on the verge of elimination, New York was determined to extend the contest, but the visiting team had a different idea. After blasting them for two and three run homers, the defending champions cruised to another title with a 7-2 sweeping triumph. Yankees fans were devastated (after all, losing in the Bronx was unacceptable) but Steinbrenner wasn't done yet and they would have their dynasty back, eventually. Cincinnati became the first National League team to win back-to-back crowns since the New York Giants had in '21 and '22. Seven of their hitters batted above .300, led by Bench's .533 and Foster's .429. Amazingly, Anderson did not make a single change during the entire Series among his nine regulars, forsaking the use of a pinch-hitter or a pinch-runner and never making a switch in either his batting order or fielding alignment. On the mound, his rotation boasted a combined 2.00 earned-run average and the franchise's two year totals consisted of two-hundred ten regular-season victories, a 6-0 record in Championship Series play, and two consecutive World Series triumphs. The mistaken fans at Yankees Stadium had witnessed the play of a dynasty, unfortunately for them though, they weren't wearing pinstripes.


1977: Los Angeles Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)

After an embarrassing sweep by baseball's newest dynasty, the Cincinnati Reds, the American League champion New York Yankees returned to the Fall Classic determined to make amends for the previous year's disappointing finale. The bruised egos and mounting stress had taken its toll on the Yankees organization during the regular season as Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson erupted into a huge argument at Boston's Fenway Park for what the manager termed as "lack of hustle". The fight that followed in the dugout was caught on national-television cameras broadcasting the Saturday afternoon game and both men were blasted in the papers. Both managed to settle their differences, but the damage to their reputations had already been done. The Los Angeles Dodgers, guided by rookie Manager Tommy Lasorda, dethroned the defending champion Reds in the National League West and steamrolled over the Philadelphia Phillies in the Championship Series. Like the Yankees, Los Angeles featured a potent line-up that included Steve Garvey (thirty-three home runs), Reggie Smith (thirty-two), Ron Cey (thirty) and Dusty Baker (thirty) who set the record as the first ball club to boast four players who hit thirty or more home runs in the same season.

As the West Coast and East Coast remained locked in a bitter 3-3 tie going into the twelfth inning of Game 1, Paul Blair checkmated the Dodgers with a clutch single that scored Willie Randolph for the opening victory. Los Angeles had revenge the following day after Cey, Smith and Steve Yeager all cracked early inning homers off Catfish Hunter. Burt Hooton faired much better on the mound and tossed a five hitter that evened the Series with a 6-1 triumph. However, New York would jump ahead to a three game lead as the Pinstripes bested Tommy John for a 5-3 decision in the third outing and lefthander Ron Guidry added a 4-2 win in the fourth.

Game 6 was certainly the most memorable in the 1977 World Series thanks a spectacular performance at the plate by Reggie Jackson. The Yankees newest "Bomber" was making his eighteenth appearance and it proved to be his greatest as he became only the second player in history to smash three home runs in a single Series game (Babe Ruth did it in 1926 and 1928). In addition, the five home runs in one Series and four consecutive blasts over a two Series-game period was unprecedented.

As Thurman Munson stood on first, Jackson nailed Hooton on his first pitch sending the Yanks ahead with a 4-3 lead. Later in the fifth with two outs and Willie Randolph on first, Reggie launched another rocket off of Elias Sosa that landed in the right-field seats. Finally, he electrified the home team crowd of 56,407 by leading off the eighth with the historic blast into the center-field bleachers. "Mr. October" indeed. Riding on the five RBIs of their slugging champion, the Yanks showed a glimpse of what was "Yankee baseball" and held on for the 8-4 victory that earned their twenty-first World Series title. It was the first crown for the "Bronx Bombers" since 1962.

Jackson's MVP performance against the Dodgers tallied a staggering .450 average with five home runs and eight runs batted in. His offense was the key to the Yankees win as their rotation (minus Torrez who finished 2-0, 2.50 ERA) lacked "the hustle" that Martin liked. Don Gullett and Hunter both went 0-1 and allowed a combined fourteen earned-runs in seventeen innings.


1978: Los Angeles Dodgers (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)

As the World Series celebrated its 75th Anniversary, two teams that shared many chapters in its story met for a classic rematch of East vs. West. The defending champion New York Yankees had struggled for several years on the way to recapturing their twenty-first crown while the Los Angeles Dodgers were still stinging from the previous year's defeat. Both teams boasted strong pitching staffs, top-notch sluggers and several All-Stars in their line-ups. Many experts had predicted a close, seven game Series that would be decided in the closing minutes, but things did not appear that way in Game 1. LA's Davey Lopes drove in five runs on two home runs and Dusty Baker added his own against twenty game winner Ed Figueroa and the entire New York bullpen. Tommy John got the first Series victory of his career after tossing shutout ball for six innings in the 11-5 opener. The only encouraging performance from the Yanks was the familiar play of "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson, who picked up right where he had left off in '77 with a home run and two singles.

Little changed the following day as the Dodger Stadium crowd was treated to it's second win in a row thanks to Ron Cey, who knocked in all of Los Angeles's runs with a single in the fourth and a three run homer in the sixth. Rookie pitcher Bob Welch saved the 4-3 game in the ninth after Jackson took the plate with two men on base. As the count went to 3-2, Reggie, who had fouled off three two-strike pitches, swung mightily at Welch's fastball and missed. Now up two games-to-none, the National Leaguers were thinking sweep as the contest shifted to Yankee Stadium.

Game 3 promised to be a pitchers duel as both team's brought out their "big guns". Don Sutton (a fifteen game winner) started for the Dodgers against Ron Guidy (25-3, 1.74 ERA, nine shutouts) and both aces struggled despite their spectacular stats. Guidry allowed seven walks and eight hits while Sutton surrendered five runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. Roy White started the Yankees rolling with a first inning homer, but Graig Nettles was the star with outstanding play in the field. With two out and one man on base in the third, Nettles stopped the Dodgers by throwing out Reggie Smith after making a diving stop of his bullet down the third base line. In the fifth, with base runners on first and second with two out, he snagged another line-drive by Smith over the bag and held the power hitter to an infield single. On the next play, with the bases loaded, he nabbed a hard grounder by Steve Garvey and forced Smith out at second. Finally in the sixth, he finished them off with another brilliant stop on a two out, bases-loaded shot down the line while getting another force at second. In the end, Los Angeles couldn't beat the infielder and his team walked away with a 5-1 triumph.

Game 4 featured another controversial call that was becoming the norm in modern baseball. Tommy John entered the sixth protecting a 3-0 lead (thanks to Smith's fifth inning homer), but a series of events turned the tide of the game and inevitably the Series. After White led off with a single, Thurmon Munson walked and Jackson followed with a run-scoring base hit. Lou Piniella came up next and knocked a sinking liner toward Bill Russell. As the Dodgers shortstop went to play the ball it glanced off of his glove and fell to the ground. Munson, who had hesitated in case the ball had been caught, took off for third, but Russell went to second attempting to catch Jackson and complete a double-play at first. Sensing this, the Yankee stopped midway down the base path and, with Russell's throw in flight, turned toward first baseman Steve Garvey colliding with the ball. Munson scored the Yank's second run, but the Dodgers argued (to no avail) that Jackson had intentionally interfered.

New York went on to tie it up in the eighth, after Blair rounded the bases on a single, sacrifice and double by his fellow teammates. After Goose Gossage (twenty-seven saves, 2.01 ERA) retired Los Angeles (in order) in the top of the tenth, the Yankees struck for the game-winning run in the last half of the inning after Piniella scored White for the 4-3 victory. Bob Lemon, who had replaced Billy Martin in July, started Jim Beattie in Game 5 and the rookie benefited from the "Bronx Bombers" at their finest. Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers and Brian Doyle all collected three hits and Munson drove in five runs for an eighteen hit, 12-2 romping that put the Yankees one game away from their twenty-second World Championship.

Hunter was given the call for Game 6 and, with two innings of relief help from Gossage, the two emerged 7-2 winners and World Champions. Dent and Doyle both repeated their three hit efforts with the shortstop's three run homer proving the deciding factor while Jackson topped it off with a seventh inning homer off of Welch, who had fanned him in Game 2. In addition to their first back-to-back championships since '61-'62, the Yanks set another postseason record as the only title winner ever to trail before winning six straight.


1981: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. New York Yankees (2)

One of the greatest post-season rivalries (dating back to 1941) was reset for the second Fall Classic of the 1980's. The New York Yankees had been in the hunt for more World Series Championships than any other team in professional baseball and the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers were their favorite prey. In the ten Series meetings between the two clubs, New York had prevailed as champs on eight occasions (6-1 against the Brooklyn Dodgers and 2-1 against the Los Angeles version). Both teams had last met in 1978 when the Yankees lost the first two outings then rebounded to beat the Nationals in four consecutive games for the crown. After a new two tiered playoff system was introduced (due to a players strike that interrupted the regular season) the Yankees had won a tight divisional-playoff over the Milwaukee Brewers (3-2) and went on to sweep the Oakland A's in the American League Championship Series.

As Game 1 started, New York showed the hometown crowd why they still were "The Greatest Show on Earth". Bob Watson opened it up with a three run homer in the first (off Jerry Reuss) and his teammates collected single runs in the third and fourth innings, for a 5-1 lead going into the eighth. A confidant Yankees skipper Bob Lemon replaced starter Ron Guidry with Ron Davis, who unfortunately walked the only two batters he faced. Attempting to divert a comeback, Goose Gossage was brought in, but he also yielded a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Jay Johnstone and a sacrifice fly to Dusty Baker. Despite the setback, he managed to get out of the inning thanks to third baseman Graig Nettles who made a clutch, diving grab of a Steve Garvey line drive that appeared headed for the far left-field corner. After Ron Cey followed with a ground out, the nervous bullpen leader and his amazing infielder emerged as 5-3 winners.

Tommy John (a former Dodger who had crossed to sign with the Yanks after the '78 season) was given the start against his former mates in Game 2. Together with Gossage, he managed to hold Los Angeles to four meaningless hits on the road to a 3-0 victory. Shortstop Larry Milbourne garnered New York's only extra-base hit, (a fifth-inning double that drove in the first run) as the Yankees extended their Series winning streak against the Dodgers to six games.

Having played ten postseason games before the World Series ever started (five against the Houston Astros in the divisional playoffs and five more against the Montreal Expos in the Championship Series) Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda's team had come too far to give up now. Their postseason marathon was nearing the home stretch and they were falling behind fast. The skipper had been eagerly awaiting the chance to introduce their new rookie sensation Fernando Valenzuela to the Yankees and Game 3 provided the perfect opportunity. A good fit to face the Bombers; the lefty had pitched five shutouts in his first seven games and wound up with eight total in a 13-7 season. Despite his outstanding numbers, the inexperienced twenty year-old surrendered nine hits (including homers to Watson and Rick Cerone) and seven walks, but somehow managed to hold on for the 5-4 win on Cey's three run blast in the first, Pedro Guerrero's RBI double in the fifth and Mike Scioscia's run-producing double-play grounder that followed.

Bob Welch drew for the start for Game 4, but failed to retire a single batter as Los Angeles fell behind 6-3 early on. The Dodgers managed to tie it up in the sixth after Jay Johnstone hammered a two run pinch-homer and Davey Lopes (who reached second on a rare Reggie Jackson error) stole third and scored on a Bill Russell single. The comeback ignited a spark in LA's line-up and they continued to burn the Yankee rotation in the seventh on Steve Yeager's sacrifice fly and Lopes' run-scoring infield hit that put them ahead 8-6. "Mr. October" who was attempting to make amends for the costly fielding error in the sixth, erased the memory with a beautiful tape-measure homer to right-center in the eighth. Although it shortened the gap, it was all the Yanks could muster and the home team went on to tie the Series up with an 8-7 victory.

Guidry and Reuss returned to face each other again in Game 5 with Reuss coming out on top 2-1 after Guerrero and Yeager both slugged back-to-back homers in the seventh-inning. As the Series shifted back to the Bronx, both teams remained deadlocked in a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth when Lemon elected to use a pinch-hitter in place of starting pitcher John. The decision proved devastating as New York failed to score in the inning and John was rendered ineligible for the rest of the contest. As reliever George Frazier came in to pick up the pieces, he was quickly taken for three runs in the fifth. Guerrero later added a two run single and a bases-empty home run while his five runs batted in highlighted the Dodgers' Series-clinching 9-2 triumph. Losing pitcher Frazier had suffered his third consecutive defeat, equaling the Series record established by Claude Williams of the 1919 Black Sox. Like the Yanks had done to them in '78, the Dodgers had come behind from a 2-0 deficit to defeat New York in four straight. Many Yankees fans blamed Lemon for sacrificing John so early in the game and as a result, the Series. The decision would prove costly on many fronts and his tenure with the "Pinstripes" would soon be at an end.


1996: Atlanta Braves (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)

The 1996 season witnessed what would eventually become the fourth installment of the New York Yankees dynasty. To date, the Bronx Bombers had already dominated three separate decades en route to thirty-three Fall Classics and twenty-two World Championship titles. This year's Yankees dominated the American League throughout the entire regular season on the arms of one of baseball's top pitching staffs that featured Andy Pettitte, David Cone and the game's best closer in Mariano Rivera. New York's newest skipper Joe Torre had also risen to a "folk-hero-like" status after returning the franchise to the Fall Classic after succeeding Buck Showalter who had repeatedly fell short. A true "hometown hero", Torre had grown up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn and made his name as an All-Star catcher and infielder for both the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves. Both his experience and demeanor made him a natural for managing, and he was a good one, for the Mets, Braves and Cardinals. After being fired three times, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner offered him the job despite critical response from his colleagues. The daring decision would prove as one of Steinbrenner's best as Torre would later go on to become one of the most successful managers in baseball history.

The defending World Champion Atlanta Braves also boasted an equally dangerous rotation with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, Denny Neagle and John Smoltz (some of who had controlled the previous Series with a combined 2.67 ERA). In capturing their fifth straight divisional crown, the Braves set a Major League record with five consecutive first-place seasons. Their pitching staff recorded several major league marks including most strikeouts (1,245) and fewest walks (451) and the '96 team also set several franchise records including most home wins (56), best team batting average (.270), third all-time in homeruns (197).

Despite the rich postseason history of New York victories, Atlanta still remained the heavy favorite. Later, the "upset" caused by the Yankee underdogs would lead to the uncovering of a major gambling scandal at Boston College after the University's athletes were forced to "go public" after being unable to pay off their wagers to illegal bookies.

Game 1 recalled the '95 opener with an astonishing ten separate pitchers making appearances on the mound with Smoltz and Pettitte starting. Fred McGriff mirrored his last debut as well with a homer and teammate Andruw Jones followed as the youngest player (nineteen) in World Series history to hit a home run. One inning later, he became only the second player in World Series history to hit a second homer (in his first two at bats) and Atlanta and its newest sensation sent the Yanks packing with a 12-1 massacre. The opening loss was especially devastating to Pettitte who was christened "Sigh Young" in the New York papers the following day.

The Braves continued their momentum in Game 2 as Maddux and company held New York to seven meaningless hits for a 4-0 win that put the National League champs up two-games-to-none. Despite their efforts, the injury plagued Yankees were falling fast and a sweep appeared on the horizon. David Cone set out to right the sinking ship for New York in the third outing and combined with relievers Rivera (the 95-mph set-up man), Graeme Lloyd and John Wetteland to deal Glavine his first loss with a clutch, 5-2 Game 3, decision.

Game 4 clearly belonged to the hitters and topped the opener with thirteen different arms taking the mound. Surprisingly, neither rotation performed well as both were battered for a combined twenty-one hits. Things clearly appeared to be in Atlanta's favor until Jim Leyritz stepped up to the plate and ignited a new era in New York Yankee baseball. Amazingly Leyritz, was sure that he wasn't going to play and spent much of the game working out in the weight room as the Braves built a 6-0 lead through five innings. A startled Leyritz finally entered the game as a defensive replacement for Joe Girardi in the sixth inning after New York had cut the deficit to 6-3. Despite surrendering eight homers during the regular season, closer Mark Wohlers was given the call in the eighth by Bobby Cox to finish the job for the Braves. After two runners reached base, Leyritz stepped into the box and worked the count to 2-2, fouling off two blistering fastballs in the process. The next swing sent a hanging slider over the wall for a 3 run homer and a Series-tying triumph. Most baseball analysts believe that single at-bat was the turning point of the Series while many Yankee fans believe it was the turning point of the franchise.

Now squared at two-games apiece, the Braves had blown a two game advantage and were winless in two consecutive meetings. Things didn't get any better the following day as the Yankees dealt a bitter 1-0 loss to the home team (in the last ballgame ever to be played at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium) and Pettitte finally had his revenge after shutting out the Braves with a five hit effort over Smoltz.

As the Series returned to "The House that Ruth Built", Atlanta had gone from two-up to down-one and were now on the brink of elimination. Maddux was the Braves' obvious choice in Game 6 but the future Hall Of Famer fell short after surrendering three early runs in a single inning. With the Braves still trailing 3-1, Gold Glove center fielder Marquis Grissom reached first on a one-out hit and broke for second when a pitch to Mark Lemke bounced a few feet away from Yankees catcher Joe Girardi. Television replays clearly showed Grissom beat the throw, but umpire Terry Tata called him out. Grissom understandably reacted in anger, coming close to bumping Tata before two Atlanta coaches pulled him away and an equally upset manager ran onto the field to continue the argument. Still screaming on his way back to the dugout, Cox was ejected by third-base umpire Tim Welke.

Despite the controversy and loss of their skipper, Atlanta managed to rally in the fourth when the Braves had their best chance to get back in the game. DH Terry Pendleton came to the plate with the bases loaded, one out and a run already in. He managed to work the count to 3-1 against Jimmy Key, and then hit a three-hopper right to Derek Jeter for an easy double play. That would be all the Braves could muster as the Yankees went on to win the game (and the Series) with a 3-2 victory.

The performances by both teams on the mound (throughout the contest) as well as the repeated one run differentials reinforced the modern theory that pitching had finally overpowered hitting as the deciding factor in World Series baseball. Over the years, hitters had become bigger, stronger and faster, but the pitchers that faced them had also evolved into an elite athlete capable of throwing 90+mph fastballs and a variety of specialty pitches with the precision of a surgeon. The New York Yankees had assembled a roster that fit both categories and they would continue to dominate the Fall Classic four out the next five years. The disappointing Atlanta Braves would also continue to dominate Divisional titles (but unfortunately, not much more).


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