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Dodgers Finally Beat Yanks in World Series, October 4, 1955

"Dem Bums" of Brooklyn won the National League pennant in 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953. But the team had never won the World Series. Going into the 1955 Fall Classic, their last five defeats were at the hands of the Yankees.

Whitey Ford bested Don Newcombe as the Yankee won Game One of the series. That was the game with the controversial "steal" of home by Jackie Robinson. Brilliant pitching by 35-year-old Tommy Byrne gave the Yanks a victory in Game Two.  Brooklyn fans took heart in the fact their team dropped the first two contests by a combined three runs.  But the history was that no team had ever won a seven-game World Series after losing the first two games.

In Game Three, Johnny Podres came up big, holding the Yankees to seven hits. The Brooks won 8-3. They won Game Four, 8-5, to tie the series.

The largest crowd to ever see a World Series game at Ebbets Field showed up on October 2nd.  Sophomore manager Walt Alston started slim rookie Roger Craig in Game Five.  Stengel tabbed 1954 Rookie of the Year Bob Grim.''  Incredibly, the Dodgers won again, 5-3. One more win and the mighty Yanks would be World Series losers.

It was southpaw Karl Spooner against southpaw Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium. Spooner lasted only through the first inning. He walked two, yielded singles to Berra and Bauer and a two run dinger by Hank Bauer. Five runs. Spooner would never pitch in the major leagues again.

Ford, at the top of his game, in the fourth year of his 16 year Hall of Fame career, was having fun. He gave up just four hits as the Yankees stayed alive with a 5-1 win.
After giving up one of four hits, Yogi Berra told him: "Your slider ain't workin' good, Whitey. Don't throw no more."

"Aw, Yog'," Ford said, "Don't be a spoil sport. I need the practice. Let me throw it to this guy."

"No more," Berra insisted. "...The World Series ain't the right time to horse around."
On October 4, 1955, 23-year-old Johnny Podres took the mound for the most important game of his life. He was opposed by Tommy Byrne, a dozen years his senior. Each pitcher had won a game in the series. There were 62,465 in attendance at Yankee Stadium.

Hits by Gil Hodges in the fourth and sixth innings gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the sixth, Junior Gilliam came in from left field to play second base and Sandy Amoros took his place.

Mantle walked to start the Yankee sixth.  McDougald bunted for a single. Berra was next. Mel Allen's call bring back the time:

"Johnny Podres on the mound. Dodgers leading 2-0 . . . The outfield swung away toward right. Sandy Amoros is playing way into left-center. Berra is basically a pull hitter.

Here's the pitch. Berra swings and he does hit one to the opposite field, down the left field line . . . Sandy Amoros races over toward the foul line . . . and he makes a sensational, running, one-handed catch! He turns, whirls, fires to Pee Wee Reese. Reese fires to Gil Hodges at first base in time to double up McDougald. And the Yankees' rally is stymied!"

"I run and run and run" was how Amoros characterized one of the most dramatic moments in baseball history. After all these years Jerry Coleman is not as impressed with what happened as others: "It wasn't so much that Amoros made a great catch. It was the way he went after it in the sun. A better fielder would have made it easier. . . the circumstance was that we may have had a tie ball game...as it turned out, that was out last chance."

With two outs in the bottom of  the ninth inning, Mel Allen, loyal to a fault, turned the microphone over to Vin Scully. "Howard hits a ground ball to Reese. He throws to Hodges... the Brooklyn Dodgers are World Champions."

The precise moment was 3:43 P.M. on October 4, 1955. Brooklyn streets were clogged with celebrating fans. Honking car horns, clanging pots and pans, and shredded newspaper all punctuated that one singular moment. 

In the borough-wide party that night, there were 50 complaints of noise and 10 false fire alarms. Some one billion flakes of tickertape, shredded newspapers and torn telephone books were swept off Court Street the following morning.

"It was the first and only world championship the Brooklyn Dodgers ever had," their storied centerfielder Duke Snider said. "You had to pinch yourself. We finally had done it."

 

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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