October 4

This Day in History

Sports

Oct 4, 1955:

So-called Brooklyn bums win their first World Series

On October 4, 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers win the World Series at last, beating the New York Yankees 2-0. They’d lost the championship seven times already, and they’d lost five times just to the Yanks--in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953. But in 1955, thanks to nine brilliant innings in the seventh game from 23-year-old lefty pitcher Johnny Podres, they finally managed to beat the Bombers for the first (and last) time.

The Dodgers had lost the first two games of the series at Yankee Stadium--it was the first time in history, in fact, that a team came back to win a seven-game World Series after losing the first two--and then won three in a row at home. The Yanks came back in the sixth, forcing a tiebreaking Game 7 in front of 62,465 fans in the Bronx.

In the fourth inning of the last game, Brooklyn got its first run when catcher Roy Campanella hit a double and Gil Hodges sent him home with a well-placed single. In the sixth, a Yankee error helped the Dodgers load the bases. Even though veteran pitcher Tommy Byrne had only given up three hits, manager Casey Stengel pulled him and sent in right-handed reliever Bob Grim--but that didn’t stop Hodges from knocking a long sacrifice fly to center field. Pee Wee Reese made it safely home, and the Dodgers were winning by 2.

And then, the game’s defining moment. At the bottom of the sixth, Podres walked Billy Martin and Gil McDougald outran a bunt to first, putting two on with nobody out. Then Yogi Berra sliced an outside pitch hard down the left-field foul line--a game-tying double, for sure, until backup outfielder Sandy Amoros came running out of nowhere, stuck out his glove and snagged the ball as he careened toward the stands. He wheeled and threw to shortstop Reese, who tossed it to Hodges at first, who caught McDougald off the bag by inches. The Yanks’ sure thing had soured into a game-killing double play.

The final triumphant out came on an Elston Howard grounder to Reese, the 38-year-old team captain who’d been around for all five of the Dodgers’ losses to their cross-town rivals. Reese scooped up the ball and fired low and wide to first, but somehow--as John Drebinger wrote in the Times the next day, "Gil would have stretched halfway across the Bronx for that one"--Hodges grabbed it in time to send Howard back to the dugout and end the game.

The 1955 series turned out to be the only one the Brooklyn Dodgers would ever win. They lost to the Yanks again the next year. The year after that, the team’s owner decided he’d rather play in a swank stadium in a nicer neighborhood, so he moved the team to California. The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the championship five times.

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