There were other players on this team coming into their formative years as major league players. Six seasons later, these players would be there when the Dodgers would win a World Championship in 1965. John Roseboro, Jim Gilliam, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Sandy Koufax, Johnny Podres, Sherry and Wally Moon would all be around for those seasons. And, 1959 would be a final World Championship moment for Dodger veterans as Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Clem Labine and a team coach named Pee Wee Reese. Even the 1955 World Series hero, Sandy Amoros, would play in September and have one important RBI.
The journey of the 1959 World Championship season starts with the 1958 season, a dismal one for everyone involved with the Dodgers. A team that had averaged more than 92 wins a season from 1950 to 1957 (approximating 96 wins a season if based on a modern 162-game schedule) won just 71 games. The season started slow, and although they climbed to within three games of .500 in August, they faltered in September. To add insult to injury, they lost 16 of 22 games to the San Francisco Giants.
The 1959 season’s first victory did not come on the field, but rather in the courtroom. On January 13, 1959, the California Supreme Court in a unanimous 7-0 decision agreed the city of Los Angeles had negotiated a proper contract to exchange land with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers would transfer ownership of property to Wrigley Field in Los Angeles along with the obligation to build a 50,000 seat baseball stadium.3
However, 1958 did promise bright things on the horizon. During the season, amateur free agents Willie Davis from Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, Frank Howard from Ohio State, and Ron Fairly from Southern California signed their first professional contracts.
Dodger General Manager Buzzie Bavasi knew the team needed improvement and acquired left-hand hitting outfielder Wally Moon from the St. Louis Cardinals for Gino Cimoli, and Moon would provide heroics throughout the 1959 season. Bavasi even traded a future Hall of Famer in order to improve the club when he acquired pitchers Gene Snyder and Jim Golden, and outfielder Rip Repulski from the Phillies for second baseman George Anderson. Anderson was a superb fielding second baseman who won the Silver Glove for fielding excellence in 1958 in the minor leagues. Eleven years later, George Anderson would be known as “Sparky” and manage World Championship teams with the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers and be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.