1959: “We go to Chicago!”
Scully told the listening audience of Hodges scoring the tying run, “The Los Angeles Dodgers come roaring back in the bottom of the ninth and 36,000 people are roaring with them. It’s a brand new ballgame!”Vin Scully, Los Angeles Dodgers, September 29, 1959
This long pennant race, extended past the regular season, went into extra innings. Stan Williams now pitched for the Dodgers and retired the side in order in the 10th inning, but in the 11th inning was in a jam. After a walk to Eddie Mathews, and then an intentional walk to Henry Aaron and an unintentional walk to Al Spangler loaded the bases with two outs, Williams retired the power hitting Joe Adcock to end the inning. The Dodgers threatened in the bottom of the 11th inning and had the first two hitters on base and eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but were retired without scoring. Williams had an easy 12th inning with the Braves and in the bottom of the 12th inning, the Dodgers broke through. With two outs, Hodges walked, and Joe Pignatano singled Hodges to second. Furillo, who drove in the tying run in the ninth inning, had stayed in the game. It would be Furillo who would hit the ground ball that as Vin Scully said, “We go to Chicago!”Vin Scully, Los Angeles Dodgers, September 29, 1959
It was up to Scully to summarize the moment for the Dodger organization and their fans. “The Cinderella team of the National League. For the first time in history a 7th place club has come back to win the pennant the following year and it had to be the Dodgers…..In their third playoff they finally win one and go to the Series….The crowd going wild as the fairy tale has come true…..The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the National League pennant for 1959……So, our suitcases that are down in the clubhouse are not there to idle out the night. They’ll be on the plane and the Dodgers will meet head on with the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. One of the truly great stories….It took four hours and 10 minutes and it seemed like an eternity.”Vin Scully, Los Angeles Dodgers, September 29, 1959
They had almost no time to celebrate. The 1 p.m. game ended after five in the afternoon, but by nine o’clock that evening, the Dodgers were in the air on their way to face the White Sox. Their stretch run was remarkable in its scope. They had won six of their last eight games, on the road, to force the playoff. The Dodgers had the best record in baseball in September and they were the best performing club in the National League from May 1st until the end of the season and the third best team overall from that point. They had won five straight games against their two biggest rivals, the Braves and the Giants, and they had won four of those five games on the road.
However, even the Dodgers were prone to a pratfall. As they flew into Chicago on Tuesday night that became Wednesday morning, the players were in their fourth city in four days. They had been in Chicago on Sunday, Milwaukee on Monday, Los Angeles on Tuesday, and they returned to Chicago on Wednesday. Even a travelling salesman would have been exhausted by such an itinerary.
Their hopes were brightened when they received the wonderful surprise of being greeted on arrival in Chicago by their former teammate, Campanella. The future Hall of Fame catcher was now living in New York, but had made the journey to Chicago to be with his team and accompany them through the World Series.Al Wolf, Los Angeles Times, October 1, 1959
It seemed as if the entire city of Los Angeles was ready to follow the World Series. For the first time in history, the World Series was to be broadcast in Spanish over KWKW radio in a re-creation form.Los Angeles Mirror-News, October 1, 1959 Several companies took out advertisements giving their best wishes to the team. Morning newspapers carried the broadcast information, the rosters and a blank scorecard on the first page with the starting lineups. Dodger fans had to be ready as the broadcast on radio and television was to start at 9:45 in the morning, only 11:45 a.m. in Chicago.
White Sox owner Bill Veeck provided some early controversy. When asked by columnist Mel Durslag how many people would attend the World Series in Los Angeles, Veeck estimated 75,000 for Game Three and 50,000 fans for Game Four. Veeck then added, possibly with tongue in cheek, “I’m not figuring on more than four games. That’s all we’ll (the White Sox) need”Mel Durslag, Los Angeles Examiner, October 1, 1959
Durslag added a prediction for the winner in his column, “Just to be officially on record, in the event we’re right, we’ll say seven games. If we’re wrong, forget where you read it. We’ve been wrong on the Dodgers all season. If we are again, at least it’s going to be picking with them.”Mel Durslag, Los Angeles Examiner, October 1, 1959 Cartoonist Karl Hubenthal drew a Dodger climbing into a pumpkin coach labeled “World Series” and the caption read, “Our Cinderella Dodgers.”Karl Hubenthal, Los Angeles Examiner, October 1, 1959
The opening game of the 1959 World Series was a tremendous achievement for the Chicago White Sox as they were playing in their first World Series since the “Black Sox” scandal of 1919. The team was known as the “Go-Go Sox” as the team relied on excellent team defense, a stalwart starting pitching staff, a deep bullpen and a daring, running offensive attack that utilized getting on base, advancing runners, and reducing strikeouts per plate appearance. The White Sox had only two players hitting home runs in double figures, but they were easily the class team in the American League.
They may have been called the “Cinderella” Dodgers, but for them in the first game, it was not midnight that struck them, but the number 11. The headlines in the newspaper that day and the next day defined the whole afternoon. “Dodgers Get Clobbered”Los Angeles Mirror-News, October 1, 1959 and “ChiSox Smash Dodgers”Los Angeles Mirror-News, October 1, 1959 and “We”re Not Dead Yet Vow Dodgers”Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1959 and “11 (gulp) to 0, Big Klu Rips Dodgers, 11-0”Los Angeles Examiner, October 2, 1959
Despite the reputation of being a running team and not a power team, the first game belonged entirely to the White Sox as they thumped the Dodgers, 11-0. The White Sox scored twice in the first inning helped by their base running and a seven-run third inning put the game away. White Sox first baseman Ted (“Big Klu”) Kluszewski hit two home runs. By the fifth inning, it was 11-0 White Sox and that was how it finished. The Dodgers had eight hits and they were all singles in the one-sided loss, but the club had overcome larger obstacles in 1959 and was confident they would do so again.
Alston said, “It was just one of those (games) where you get the hell knocked out of you. But that kind of defeat doesn’t count any different than one that goes 13 innings and goes 2-1.”Al Wolf, Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1959
In Game 2, Alston went with his ace of the 1955 World Series, Podres. This would be the third time Alston had started Podres after a Dodger loss in a World Series. In 1955, Podres started and won Game Three after the Dodgers had lost the first two games. He came back and pitched a complete game shutout in Game Seven after the Yankees had won Game Six to tie the Series. Podres would get this win following a Series loss and tie the Series and he would get help from teammates Neal, Essegian, Sherry, and a quick peek taken by shortstop Maury Wills.
The White Sox scored twice in the first inning and led 2-0 until Neal drove in the Dodgers’ first run of the Series with a solo fifth-inning home run. The home run was notable the next day in wire photos throughout the world. As White Sox left fielder Al Smith followed Neal’s home run into the left-field stands, a bleacher fan in reaching for Neal’s home run toppled his beer cup over the left field wall, and the unfortunate Smith was soaked in suds.
The game stayed 2-1 White Sox until the seventh inning and with two outs, Alston went to his bench and had Essegian hit for Podres. Essegian, a graduate of Los Angeles’ Fairfax High School who had played for Stanford in the Rose Bowl, gave the team a lift when he tied the game with a solo home run. Undone by this, the White Sox pitcher walked Gilliam and then had to face Neal again. The second baseman belted his second home run of the game with Gilliam aboard and for the first time in this World Series, the Dodgers had a 4-2 lead. Neal became only the fifth player in World Series history to hit home runs in consecutive at bats.
Reliever Larry Sherry had an uneventful seventh inning. In the eighth, the White Sox rallied. After singles by Kluszewski and Sherman Lollar put White Sox on first and second and none out, Sherry faced White Sox outfielder Al Smith. Smith doubled to deep left center, and the White Sox were in business. Earl Torgeson, running for Kluszewski, scored easily from second, but in the blink of an eye, or the peek of an eye from shortstop Wills, the 1959 World Series turned.
Base runner Sherman Lollar admitted later he had hesitated rounding second on Smith’s double to be sure the ball had dropped safely, but he continued running. Wills went out to left field to take the relay from left fielder Moon who had picked up Smith’s drive. In the time Wills had to catch the first throw from Moon, he made an intuitive play. As the throw was coming into him, he glanced quickly at the location of Lollar, the potential tying run, and he realized Lollar was trying to score. Wills explained after the game, “There was so much noise I couldn’t hear any shouted instructions (where to throw the relay) so I looked over my shoulder while the ball was still in the air. I saw Lollar rounding third and I knew where the plate was, so I just wheeled and threw.”Milton Richman, Los Angeles Herald-Express, October 2, 1959.
After the relay by Moon, Wills saved himself split seconds by turning immediately and throwing to home. His throw was on target and Roseboro had the ball in his hands before Lollar even had a chance to slide and the tag was made for a huge first out. Instead of the game being tied at 4 all and the lead runner at third base with none out, it was still a 4-3 Dodger lead and a White Sox runner at third with one out. There, Sherry stranded the base runner, and the Dodgers finished the eighth, hanging on to their 4-3 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, Sherry induced three infield outs, and the 1959 World Series was tied at one game apiece.
The World Series now moved to Los Angeles and the big question is would a new attendance record be set in the Los Angeles Coliseum? White Sox owner Bill Veeck had predicted the largest crowd in Los Angeles would be 75,000 for Game 3 with reduced attendance in later games. Veeck no doubt hoped to maintain the Game 5 World Series attendance record in 1948 at 86,288, set when Veeck was owner of the Cleveland Indians.
The question of a World Series record for game attendance was answered quickly by Los Angeles fans. The Coliseum began to fill and fill and fill, until no one could deny the popularity of major league baseball in Los Angeles. More than 92,000 fans would be there to set a major league attendance record, a record that would last one day, but a major league record all the same. Among those in attendance helping to set the record were Hollywood stars as David Niven; Kirk Douglas; Bing Crosby; Edward G. Robinson; Jack Benny; Glenn Ford; Danny Thomas; Anthony Quinn; Milton Berle, and Gene Kelly.Joseph Finnegan, Los Angeles Herald-Express, October 5, 1959
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman described the day. “It (the 1959 World Series) has been wonderful for the city….for business…for everyone. There’s absolutely nothing as exciting as this.”Jean Davis, Los Angeles Herald-Express, October 5, 1959
Alston named Van Nuys High School graduate Drysdale his starting pitcher for the day and voiced his confidence in the pitcher. Alston said, “I think Don (Drysdale) is about due to pitch one of his real good games and he agrees with me.”Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1959 Drysdale had a two-day growth of beard and a writer said, “You’re not going to look good on TV.” Drysdale responded in game ready fashion, “I don’t care. I just want to look good on the scoreboard.”Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1959
The White Sox were not a power-hitting team, but they had a patient, effective offense. Early in the 1959 season against Kansas City, they had scored 11 runs in one inning on walks and errors and just one hit, a single. It was an offense that prided itself on getting runners on base, moving them into scoring position and then scoring runs.
The “Go-Go” Sox were after Drysdale early. They loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but Drysdale retired the next two hitters. In the second, the White Sox had two walks and a single, but they left runners stranded. By the end of the second inning, Drysdale had already made 51 pitches.
The third inning had the White Sox with two more hits after two outs, but Drysdale got out of another jam. It went this way all day for the Sox. They were never retired in order. In seven innings, Drysdale gave up 11 hits, all singles, and he walked four, but the White Sox could not get out of their own way. They hit into two double plays, had three base runners caught stealing, and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers had been checked themselves by White Sox pitcher Dick Donovan. Donovan had allowed just one single in six innings and had faced the minimum 18 hitters when a double play eliminated the only Dodger base runner.