Thursday, January 26, 2012

1963 World Series: The Dodgers as America's Team

The Teams
National League: Los Angeles Dodgers (99-63) - Second World Series (Won in 1959)
American League: New York Yankees (104-57) - 28th World Series (Won 20 previous times)

What Happened
By 1963, everybody was sick of the Yankees. After all, the Bronx Bombers had been to 14 of the previous 16 World Series and everybody was getting sick of their act. Therefore, a lot of fans backed the Dodgers for the 1963 series.

They picked a good team to follow. After losing in a three-game playoff the previous year, they bounced back to win the N.L. pennant in 1963, riding the strong pitching of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Johnny Podres. They didn't have much offense, but with their pitching staff, they could hang with anybody.

Meanwhile, it seemed like the Yankees should have struggled. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Yogi Berra missed a combined 267 games. They were back for the World Series, but they didn't have much of a chance against the Dodgers' lethal arms.

Koufax got the series started in a big way, striking out 15 in a complete-game victory in Game 1. It was Podres' turn in Game 2, and while the Dodgers had to actually use the bullpen for two outs, it was still an easy win. With two road wins, the Dodgers in complete control of the series. Drysdale threw a shutout in Game 3, and Koufax came back to give up only 1 run in Game 4.

The Dodgers had won their second title in four seasons, after needing more than 60 years to win their first championship in Brooklyn. More importantly, they earned the thanks of a nation. Not only did they beat the Yankees, but they swept them, the first team to do so in a World Series.

Defining Game
Game 4 was very indicative of the Dodgers of the 60s. Koufax was brilliant - a complete game with 8 strikeouts and only six hits allowed. One of those hits was a home run by Mantle, and that was almost enough. But the Dodgers weak offense did just enough: they got a solo home run in the fifth and scored a run without getting a hit in the seventh. They only scored two runs, but when your pitcher was Sandy Koufax, two runs was usually all you needed.

Koufax. Have you been paying attention? Two complete game victories, including 23 strikeouts in 18 innings. So, yah. He was a deserving MVP.

(Home team in Bold)

Los Angeles 5 4 1 2
New York 2 1 0 1

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here's the ones I've done so far:

97. 1963 - Los Angeles (N) def. New York (A) 4-0
98. 2010 - San Francisco (N) def. Texas (A) 4-1
99. 1937 - New York (A) def. New York (N) 4-1
Numbers 100-107

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