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The New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series four times in eight years during the l940s and early '50s. In a 10-year span, the Brooklyn "Bums" managed to lose in their last game of the season seven times, including five years in a row. Their fans in Brooklyn remained faithful, but miserable. The Dodgers had fielded magnificent...
The New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series four times in eight years during the l940s and early '50s. In a 10-year span, the Brooklyn "Bums" managed to lose in their last game of the season seven times, including five years in a row. Their fans in Brooklyn remained faithful, but miserable. The Dodgers had fielded magnificent position players, the storied "Boys of Summer." But pitching is the name of the game and dozens of famous Dodgers hurlers failed in the fall. In October of 1955, however, in front of thousands of Yankee fans right in their own stadium, a left-handed pitcher peeled away layers of post-season pain. Johnny Podres shattered the myth of Yankee invincibility. His was the ultimate triumph of clutch over choke. He shot down the Bronx Bombers. Johnny Podres gave Brooklyn its one and only World Series victory. He killed the Yankees. A borough-wide celebration more boisterous than those of VE-Day and VJ-Day combined erupted in Brooklyn, which hailed him as their savior. It was the most celebrated victory in the history of the World Series. It has yet to be matched. No other pitcher had won a World Series final game for Brooklyn. No other pitcher would ever do it again. No other ballplayer had ever replaced such low civic self-esteem with such unparalleled joy. Two years before the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, Johnny Podres dispatched the Bums from Brooklyn. Podres, the Most Valuable Player of that Series, and the 1955 Sportsman of the Year, became a pivotal pitching figure for the Dodgers on the West Coast, showing young stars such as Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Don Sutton that it was actually possible to envision World Series victory. Because Johnny Podres broke the ice and melted a major league inferiority complex, the Dodgers would win again and again. Podres won the Los Angeles Dodgers'' first game (against the hated San Francisco Giants), pitched the first game at Dodger Stadium, and knew every Dodger hurler from Dazzy Vance to Pedro Martinez. Podres continued a great pitching career and went on as a pitching coach, mentoring some of the best pitchers in the game, including Curt Schilling of the Red Sox, who turned in a Podres-like performance in 2004. The Podres career was successful on the mound and colorful off the field. Dozens of former player have attested to that in this story of the inspiring life of a small-town boy who realized the ultimate big-league dream.
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