More World Series lore, this one from the decade where New York ruled baseball.
The Phillies’ first pennant in 35 years and last for another 30. They were called the Whiz Kids, and with a median age of 26, you might have expected them to keep getting better. No such luck, though, even with youngsters like Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn. Being the last team in the NL to integrate didn’t help. Anyway, even this year they were no match for Stengel’s marauders, who swept them, if only by a combined score of 11-5.
The Giants won the best pennant race ever, storming back from 13 1/2 down, finishing the season 39-8 to force a three-game playoff, which was ended by Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world.
But that was as good as it got. After the Giants took a 2-1 lead, the Yankees came back with three straight.
Back to Dodgers-Yankees. The Yankees won their fourth straight Series 4-3, with only one game being decided by more than two runs.
And again, the Dodgers won 105 games and finished 13 games in front, but still lost 4-2 in the Yankees’ never-matched fifth straight championship.
The Indians finished 111-43, a .721 winning percentage that’s the best since 1909; it beats both the 2001 Mariners (.716) and the 1927 Yankees (.714). They were fueled by solid pitching, both starting and in relief, and brilliant performances from Bobby Avila, Larry Doby, and Al Rosen. The Indians still got swept by the Giants. This was the year of Willie Mays’s catch of Vic Wertz’s long fly ball:
The Dodgers finally won one, outlasting the Yankees in a Game 7 complete-game victory by Johnny Podres. This was the first Dodgers championship ever. Brooklyn went nuts, having no idea how close the end of the line was.
Another 4-3 Series, but this one went the other way, with the Yankees terrorizing the Bums’ pitching in a 9-0 Game 7, all runs scoring on home runs. Game 5 was Don Larsen’s famous perfecto.
The Braves had been the first team to move since 1903; this changed them from the largely overlooked second team in Boston to a juggernaut in a region where major league baseball was new and exciting, and caused an immediate upturn in their fortunes. In ’57 they finished first by eight games, led by Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Warren Spahn, and beat the Yankees in a back-and-forth Series, again 4-3.
The Yankees won the rematch, 4-3 yet again.
The Go-Go White Sox won the pennant with pitching, defense, and speed. But they lost the Series 4-2 to the Dodgers, who were in their second year in Los Angeles. (Vermin still, but Bums no longer.) The Boys of Summer were mostly gone: Duke Snider no longer a star, Carl Furillo a seldom-used backup. Drysdale was already a great pitcher, but Koufax was still working on things.