The 1959 World Series featured the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers beating the American League champion Chicago White Sox, four games to two. Each of the three games played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum drew record crowds, Game 5's attendance of 92,706 continues to be a World Series record to this day.
It was the first pennant for the White Sox in 40 years (since the 1919 Black Sox Scandal). They would have to wait until their world championship Season of 2005 to win another pennant. The Dodgers won their first pennant since moving from Brooklyn in 1958 by defeating the Milwaukee Braves, two games to none, in a best-of-three-games pennant playoff. It was the Dodgers' second World Series victory in five years, their first in Los Angeles, and marked the first championship for a West Coast team.
It was the first World Series in which no pitcher for either side pitched a complete game.
As Vin Scully remarked at the beginning of the official World Series film, "What a change of scenery!" This was the only Series from 1949 through 1964 in which no games were played in New York City, breaking the streak of the city that documentary filmmaker Ken Burns later called the 1950s' "Capital of Baseball".
After finishing seventh in 1958, the Dodgers rebounded in 1959. The National League pennant race was a season-long three-way battle between the Dodgers, the two-time defending N.L. champion Milwaukee Braves and the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers never led by more than two games (and that was at the end of a tie-breaker) and never trailed by more than five. On September 20, the Dodgers completed a three-game sweep in San Francisco so that, with five games to play, they had a 1⁄2 game lead on the Braves and a one-game lead over the Giants. Going into the final day, the Dodgers and Braves were tied for first and the Giants were 1 1⁄2 games back; the Giants needed to sweep a doubleheader from the Cardinals and have the Dodgers and Braves both lose to force a three-way tie. But the Dodgers won in Chicago 7–1 and the Braves won at home against the Phillies 5–2; this made the fact that the Giants lost both games of their doubleheader irrelevant.
In Game 1 of the best-of-three playoff in Milwaukee, the Dodgers took a 3–2 lead in the top of the sixth inning. Dodger reliever Larry Sherry then retired 12 of the last 13 Braves hitters to secure the win.
Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) were scheduled for Los Angeles. In Game 2, the Dodgers trailed 5-2 in the ninth inning, but rallied to tie the game with five singles and a sacrifice fly. In the top of the 11th, the Braves loaded the bases with two out, but Stan Williams got pinch hitter Joe Adcock to ground out to end the threat. In the bottom of the 12th, Gil Hodges drew a walk with two out and nobody on. Joe Pignatano singled Hodges to second. Carl Furillo hit a ground ball to shortstop Félix Mantilla; Mantilla's throw to first base was in the dirt and skipped past Frank Torre, allowing Hodges to score all the way from second with the pennant-clinching run.
Managed by Al Lopez, the White Sox were built on pitching, speed and defense. Nicknamed the "Go-go Sox", they were last in the A.L. in Home runs but led the league in stolen bases, fielding percentage, and lowest team ERA. They battled the Cleveland Indians for the American League pennant, and after a close race, the White Sox built a 6 1⁄2 game lead in early September. The Indians could get no closer than 3 1⁄2 games, and when the White Sox beat Cleveland 4–2 on September 22, they clinched the pennant with three games to play. The White Sox were only the second team besides the Yankees to win the A.L. pennant between 1949 and 1964 inclusive; the other was the 1954 Indians, also managed by Al Lopez.
NL Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. AL Chicago White Sox (2)
Historic Comiskey Park hosted a crowd 48,103 that includes Hollywood's Joan Crawford and Orson Welles and 1956 presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson II in the first playoff game in 40 years for the White Sox as well as the first playoff game in Chicago in 14 years. On the pitching mound, Early Wynn faced Roger Craig. After scoring twice in the first inning, the Sox pounded across seven runs in the third and two more in the fourth, with a pair of titanic Home runs by midseason acquisition Ted Kluszewski. Banging the ball all over the park, the Sox routed the Dodgers 11–0.
This would be the last postseason game the White Sox ever won at Comiskey Park, and their last home playoff win until 2005.
Game 2 featured Bob Shaw vs. Johnny Podres. Once again, the Sox jumped out to a quick 2–0 lead in the first inning. In the fifth, Charlie Neal homered for the first Dodger run of the series. With the game tied 2–2 in the seventh, Neal hits his second home run of the day to put the Dodgers ahead for the first time, 4–2. During a Sox uprising in the eighth against Larry Sherry, Smith doubles to left with two men on. However, Sherm Lollar is thrown out by a mile at the plate trying to score due to Wally Moon faking a catch that fooled Lollar. Sherry pitched a perfect ninth to notch a save and give Podres the win.
In contrast to the crowd of 36,528 for the tie-breaker playoff game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, 92,394 showed up in the first ever World Series game played in Los Angeles. Dick Donovan faced off against Don Drysdale in Game 3. Six scoreless innings were thrown by the two, with Donovan giving up only one hit. However, Donovan would load the bases in the 7th inning before being replaced by Gerry Staley. A single by Carl Furillo scored two runs. Drysdale gives up a run in the eighth, but Sherry shuts down the Sox as the Dodgers win, 3–1.
Wynn and Craig faced off against each other once again before a crowd of 92,650. The Sox tied the game in the 7th, but Gil Hodges blasts a home run in the next inning and Larry Sherry pitched a scoreless 9th to give the Dodgers the win.
A record-breaking crowd of 92,706 turned out, a majority hoping to celebrate a Los Angeles championship. For the first time in World Series history, however, three pitchers combined for a shutout, as Bob Shaw, Billy Pierce and Dick Donovan quieted the Dodgers and their fans 1–0 in Game 5, sending the series back to Chicago. The game's only run scored in the fourth off starter Sandy Koufax, coming when Nellie Fox scored as Lollar grounded into a double play. To date, this remains the largest crowd in World Series history.
The victory in Game 5 gave the Sox hope, heading home to again play in a "real ballpark", as opposed to L.A.'s converted football stadium. But the change in scenery was no help. Wynn started with only two days rest, and after surrendering two runs in the third inning, the Dodgers broke open the game with six more in the fourth for an 8–0 lead. Podres was also knocked out in the fourth by Chicago's last gasp, another towering home run by the hottest Sox hitter of the series, Ted Kluszewski. In the ninth inning, Chuck Essegian set a World Series record with his second pinch-hit homer of the series, and the Dodgers captured the championship, four games to two. Larry Sherry (who finished with a 2-0 record on 2 saves and allowed 1 run in 12.2 innings) was voted Most Valuable Player of the series.
1959 World Series (4–2): Los Angeles Dodgers (N.L.) over Chicago White Sox (A.L.)
The Dodgers found an unlikely hero when Chuck Essegian, who hit only one home run in 1959 and had only six in his career to that point, set a World Series record with two pinch-hit home runs.
Due to the best-of-three N.L. playoff, Game 1 was deferred from Wednesday, September 30, to Thursday, October 1. The normal travel days were retained between Games 2 and 3, and Games 5 and 6, resulting in the rare event of a Series with no Saturday game scheduled.
Games 3, 4 and 5 were:The first World Series games ever played on the West Coast;The first and only played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum;The only games in World Series history to exceed 90,000 in attendance: Game 5 drew 92,706 fans (a major league record as of 2014, unlikely to be broken under current arrangements, as no current MLB stadium has a capacity of even 60,000 – Dodger Stadium currently has the largest capacity in MLB with 56,000)
This was the first World Series to draw more than 400,000 fans.
Larry Sherry of the Dodgers was the fifth consecutive pitcher to win the World Series Most Valuable Player Award (in only the fifth year it was awarded), following Johnny Podres (Brooklyn, 1955), Don Larsen (New York, 1956), Lew Burdette (Milwaukee, 1957), and Bob Turley (New York, 1958). Sherry, who had been born with club feet, finished all four games the Dodgers won, winning two and saving two. His brother Norm was the Dodgers' backup catcher.
Although he was not voted MVP, Dodger second baseman Charlie Neal batted .370 for the Series, and his two-homer performance in Game 2 came after Chicago's pitching had held L.A. scoreless for 13 consecutive innings.
Ted Kluszewski played for the losing "Pale Hose" but still managed to drive in a World Series record-tying ten runs, joining Yogi Berra, who drove in ten in the 1956 World Series. "Big Klu" did so in just six games, and his 10 RBIs in the 1959 World Series remain a record for a 6-game World Series, as Berra's 10 RBIs in 1956 came in a 7-game World Series. (However, Bobby Richardson would break the record for RBIs in a World Series, regardless of length, the next year with 12 against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1960 World Series.)
The Dodgers became the second National League team to win a World Series after relocating (the 1957 Milwaukee Braves being the first).
The Dodgers became the first team to go from 7th place in one season to World Champion the next.
The 1959 World Series was the last one for Comiskey Park, and the only one for Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The White Sox would move into U.S. Cellular Field, originally "New Comiskey", in 1991; the Dodgers would move into Dodger Stadium in 1962. This was the most recent World Series to host the final World Series games of both its host venues, a "distinction" it lost to the 2003 World Series after the original Yankee Stadium (1923) closed following the 2008 Major League Baseball season and the Florida Marlins moved out of Sun Life Stadium after the 2011 season.