Saturday, May 29, 2010

PTWSW #52: The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers

Manager: Walter Alston
Record: 98-55
Ballpark: Ebbets Field
Owners: Walter O'Malley, Mary Louise Smith, James & Dearie Mulvey
GM: Buzzie Bavasi
Coaches: Joe Becker, Billy Herman, Jake Pitler

Future Hall of Famers: Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider

All-Stars: Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Don Newcombe, Duke Snider

Team Leaders, Batting

Roy Campanella, .318
OBP: Duke Snider, .418
SLG: Duke Snider, .628
OPS: Duke Snider, 1.046
2B: Duke Snider, 34
3B: Jim Gilliam, 8
HR: Duke Snider, 42
RBI: Duke Snider, 136 (NL leader)
BB: Duke Snider, 104
SB: Jim Gilliam, 15

Team Leaders, Pitching

Don Newcombe, 20
SO: Don Newcombe, 143
ERA: Don Newcombe, 3.20
IP: Don Newcombe, 233.2
CG: Don Newcombe, 17
SHO: Carl Erskine, Sandy Koufax, Johnny Podres, 2
K/BB: Don Newcombe, 3.76 (NL leader)
SV: Ed Roebuck, 12


Oldest Player: Pee Wee Reese (b. July 23, 1918)

Youngest Player: Sandy Koufax (b. December 30, 1935)

First to Leave Us: Don Hoak (d. October 9, 1969). Hoak had a fatal heart attack behind the wheel of a car when he was chasing his brother-in-law's stolen vehicle.

Last Survivor: Five are still living as of June 16, 2018: Roger Craig, Carl Erskine, Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, and Don Newcombe.

First in Majors: Pee Wee Reese (debut April 23, 1940)

Last in Majors: Johnny Podres (final game June 21, 1969)

First to Play For the Franchise: Pee Wee Reese (April 23, 1940)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Jim Gilliam and Sandy Koufax both played their final game in a Dodger uniform on October 6, 1966, which also happened to be Game 2 of the World Series.

Pre-union Team: Since most of these players were developed through the heralded Dodger farm system, no team had more than two.

Reunion Team: The 1956 Chicago Cubs, thanks mostly to one offseason trade, had five (Don Hoak, Jim Hughes, Frank Kellert, Russ Meyer and Walt Moryn). The 1962 New York Mets, a first-year expansion team attempting to draw fans with some of the city's former stars, had four (Roger Craig, Gil Hodges, Clem Labine and Don Zimmer).


Roy Campanella, NL MVP

Season Summary

Throughout the 1950's the Dodgers had been successful with a dominant offense and merely-above-average pitching. In 1955 their hurlers finally caught up with their hitters. Brooklyn led the league in ERA+, their strikeout rate topped the NL and their walk rate was second-best. On offense they didn't miss a beat, leading the league in OPS+, doubles, home runs and stolen bases while averaging the most runs per game. Their TotalZone rating was also tops in the Senior Circuit. It should be no surprise then, that the Dodgers set a modern Major League record with ten straight victories to start the season and never looked back, winning the pennant by 13.5 games.

"Dem Bums" had a reputation. They had seven National League pennants to their name, but not a single World Series victory. Their last five defeats had all been at the hands of the New York Yankees, and for the fifth time in nine years they'd have a crack at the Bronx Bombers in the Fall Classic. Would this year be different? The Yanks took Game 1 in Yankee Stadium, a match best remembered for Jackie Robinson's steal of home to pull the Dodgers within one run. New York followed up that victory with another the next day to take a 2-0 Series lead. A return to Ebbets Field was exactly what the Dodgers needed to get back on track, as they won all three of their home games to take the Series lead. Back in Yankee Stadium for Game 6, the Pinstripers continued the home-field trend with another victory, forcing Game 7. The final pitching matchup was young Dodger Johnny Podres versus veteran Yankee Tommy Byrne. The Dodgers carried a 2-0 lead into the sixth, where defensive replacement Sandy Amoros made the defining play of the Series: with two on and nobody out, Yogi Berra hit a drive down the left field line that Amoros caught on the run and fired back to the infield for a double play. The Dodgers held on to win the game, capturing the only World Series title they'd win in Brooklyn. Podres was named World Series MVP for his complete-game victories in Games 3 and 7.


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