American League: New York Yankees (99-52) - 20th World Series (won 16 previous times)
National League: Brooklyn Dodgers (105-49) - Seventh World Series
Dodgers vs. Yankees. Yankees vs. Dodgers. It seemed like every year - or at least every other year - the World Series was the Yankees against the Dodgers. And every year, it was the Yankees beating the Dodgers.
This year, though, was supposed to be different. After all the years of predictability, 1953 was supposed to be the Dodgers' year. For the first time, they were clearly the better team. They won a franchise record 105 games, led the league in virtually every offensive category, and won the pennant by 13 games. For long-suffering Dodger fans, 1953 was supposed to finally be "next year."
But it wasn't next year. It was the same story as it was in 1952, 1949, 1947 and 1941. The Yankees were just too good. Because while Brooklyn may have had the best offense in baseball, their pitchers were no more than good enough, and good enough usually didn't cut it in the World Series. And if the Dodgers had forgotten that key fact, the Yankees quickly reminded them; Billy Martin's three-run triple was the key hit of a four-run in the first inning of the first game. Brooklyn fought back to tie the game, but the Yankees scored four runs in the final two innings to win the first game.
The Yankees won the next one, too, coming from behind again. Martin tied the game with a home run in the 7th, and Mickey Mantle won it with a blast in the 8th. The Dodgers had entered the series with so much optimism, but that was all shattered after the first two games. It was just two games, but it was the same old story. Even though the Dodgers won the next two games - Game 3 on an 8th inning home run by Roy Campanella, Game 4 in much easier fashion - the optimism, the hope was gone.
Game 5 was the one that turned things, as the Yankees smashed four home runs to become the first team to win a road game in the series. After breaking serve, there was no doubt they'd win the series in Yankee Stadium, and though the Dodgers made things close, Martin's one-out single in the bottom of the ninth sent Hank Bauer around third for the game- and series-winning run.
One game away from their annual destruction of all of Brooklyn's hopes and dreams, the Yankees took a 3-0 lead after two innings of Game 6, a lead that would have been much bigger if not for them leaving the bases loaded both innings. It was 3-1 entering the ninth when the Dodgers finally woke up, with Carl Furillo hitting a two-run home run to tie the game. After reliever Clem Labine struck out to end the inning, the Yankees quickly went to work. With one out, Martin came up with runners on the corners and ended the series with a single.
Martin dominated the series from the first inning to the last, hitting .500 with a series-high 8 runs batted in. He had two triples and two home runs, and seemed to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.
(Home team shaded; winners in Bold)
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here are the ones I've done so far:
40. 1953 - New York (A) def. Brooklyn (N) 4-2
41. 1941 - New York (A) def. Brooklyn (N) 4-2
42. 1958 - New York (A) def. Milwaukee (N) 4-3
43. 1959 - Los Angeles (N) def. Chicago (A) 4-2
44. 2008 - Philadelphia (N) def. Tampa Bay (A) 4-1
45. 1933 - New York (N) def. Washington (A) 4-1
46. 1929 - Philadelphia (A) def. Chicago (N) 4-1
47. 1982 - St. Louis (N) def. Milwaukee (A) 4-3
48. 1923 - New York (A) def. New York (N) 4-2
49. 1944 - St. Louis (N) def. St. Louis (A) 4-2