After both teams failed to advance to the Fall Classic the previous year, the Yankees and Dodgers renewed their World Series rivalry in 1955, facing each other for the fifth time in nine seasons. A 111-victory campaign turned in by the Cleveland Indians prevented the Yankees from capturing their sixth consecutive American League pennant in 1954, even though New York posted an exceptional 103-51 record. The Indians almost foiled the Yankees again in 1955, spending much of the year in first place, before a late-season surge enabled the Yankees to finally lay claim to the A.L. pennant with a record of 96-58. Cleveland finished second in the junior circuit, just three games back.
New York’s deep pitching staff, which posted a league-leading 3.23 team ERA, played a huge role in determining the final outcome. Whitey Ford served as the staff ace, placing among the league leaders with 18 victories, a 2.63 ERA, and 254 innings pitched, while also topping the circuit with 18 complete games. Bob Turley added 17 victories, compiled a 3.06 ERA, and finished near the top of the league rankings with 210 strikeouts, six shutouts, and 247 innings pitched. Tommy Byrne finished 16-5 with a 3.15 ERA, while Don Larsen posted a record of 9-2.
The tandem of Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle led New York on offense. Berra batted .272, scored 84 runs, and placed among the league leaders with 27 home runs and 108 runs batted in, en route to earning league MVP honors. Despite finishing just fifth in the balloting, Mantle posted even better numbers, finishing near the top of the league rankings with a .306 batting average, 99 runs batted in, and 121 runs scored, while topping the circuit with 37 home runs, 11 triples, 113 bases on balls, a .433 on-base percentage, and a .611 slugging percentage.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers failed to make their third consecutive trip to the Fall Classic the previous year in their first season under new manager Walter Alston, finishing five games behind the pennant-winning Giants, with a record of 92-62. Brooklyn ran away with the N.L. flag in 1955, though, compiling a record of 98-55, en route to finishing 13 ½ games ahead of the second-place Milwaukee Braves. By far the National League’s strongest club, the Dodgers led the senior circuit with 857 runs scored and a team ERA of 3.68.
Don Newcombe led all Dodger starters with a record of 20-5, a 3.20 ERA, 17 complete games, and 234 innings pitched. Duke Snider and Roy Campanella remained the backbone of the offense. Snider hit 42 home runs, batted .309, and led the league with 136 runs batted in and 126 runs scored, en route to earning a second-place finish in the N.L. MVP voting. Campanella finished just ahead of Snider in the balloting, earning league MVP honors for the third time by hitting 32 homers, driving in 107 runs, and batting .318.
After losing all five previous World Series meetings to the Yankees, Brooklyn fans likely resigned themselves to a sixth consecutive defeat when the Dodgers dropped the first two contests to New York at Yankee Stadium. Two home runs by Yankee first baseman Joe Collins helped New York capture Game One by a final score of 6-5. Yet the contest’s most memorable moment turned out to be Jackie Robinson’s controversial steal of home in the eighth inning – a call that catcher Yogi Berra continues to maintain the home plate umpire blew. Tommy Byrne went the distance and knocked in two runs with a single as the Yankees came out on top in Game Two by a final score of 4-2.
However, the Series turned around after it moved to Ebbets Field for the next three contests. An early home run by Roy Campanella and the solid pitching of Johnny Podres helped the Dodgers begin to shift the momentum of the Series in Game Three, which Brooklyn won by a score of 8-3.
Home runs by Campanella, Gil Hodges, and Duke Snider accounted for six of Brooklyn’s eight runs in Game Four, as the Dodgers evened the Series with an 8-5 victory. Two more homers by Snider in Game Five helped the Dodgers take the Series lead with a 5-3 victory.
The Yankees evened the Series at three games apiece after the two teams returned to Yankee Stadium for the remainder of the Fall Classic. Five first-inning runs, three of which scored on a Bill Skowron homer, gave Whitey Ford all the runs he needed to earn his second victory of the Series. Ford went the distance, allowing the Dodgers just one run on four hits during the 5-1 win.
Gil Hodges drove in two Brooklyn runs with a single in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning of Game Seven, staking Johnny Podres to a 2-0 lead. However, the Yankees mounted a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning, putting runners on first and second with no one out. Yogi Berra then lofted a high fly ball into the left field corner that Brooklyn outfielder Sandy Amoros hauled in with a spectacular running catch. Amoros then threw to Pee Wee Reese, who turned quickly and threw to first base to complete the double play. Podres did the rest, shutting out the Yankees the rest of the way to give the Dodgers their first world championship. The 22-year-old left-hander earned Series MVP honors by going 2-0, with a 1.00 ERA. Meanwhile, Duke Snider excelled at the plate for Brooklyn, hitting four homers, driving in seven runs, and batting .320.
Hank Bauer and Yogi Berra starred in defeat for the Yankees. Bauer collected six hits in 14 times at-bat, for a .429 batting average. Berra homered once, drove in two runs, and accumulated 10 hits in 24 trips to the plate, for a batting average of .417.
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- 1955 World Series, Bill Skowron, Bob Turley, Brooklyn Dodgers, Casey Stengel, Don Larsen, Don Newcombe, Duke Snider, Ebbets Field, Gil Hodges, Gil McDougald, Hank Bauer, Jackie Robinson, Joe Collins, Johnny Podres, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Sandy Amoros, Tommy Byrne, Walter Alston, Whitey Ford, Yankee Stadium, Yogi Berra