1955 World Series Special: Finally it’s Next Year for Dem Bums
It wasn’t the first Subway Series, or the last. But the 1955 World Series might well have been the best pitting one New York team against another. Especially if you were a long-suffering Brooklyn Dodger. Or an even longer-suffering fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Here’s the whole story, featuring one big city, two classic ballparks, a raft of future Hall of Famers, and two heroes absolutely nobody saw coming.
An excerpt from the podcast above:
Sixty years ago this month, Next Year was finally This Year in Brooklyn, New York.
But you can’t talk about the 1955 World Series without first talking about everything that happened before 1955.
The first Subway Series was in 1921; it was the first World Series that could be attended solely by taking the subway to the games.
Granted, the entire ’21 World Series was played in the same stadium. The New York Giants and the New York Yankees played their home games in Upper Manhattan’s Polo Grounds, where the Yankees had been the Giants’ tenants since 1913.
The Giants beat the Yankees in the 1921 World Series, and then again in 1922.
But in 1923 the Yankees and Giants played in a REAL Subway Series—although that term doesn’t seem to have been invented yet—as the Yankees had built Yankee Stadium just on the other side of the Harlem River, in the Bronx; from the upper deck of the Polo Grounds, you could easily see the so-called “House That Ruth Built.”
Coincidentally or not, that was also the first World Series the Yankees would actually win. They’d lost in 1921 and ’22 to the Giants, but in ’23 they beat the Giants in six games, with The Great Ruth himself hitting three home runs.
The next Subway Series wouldn’t come until 1936, when the Yankees beat the Giants again. And they beat the Giants again in 1937.
The Subway Series was just getting warmed up, though. In 1941, the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers—the Dodgers, by the way, had played in two World Series before, losing to the Red Sox in 1916 and the Indians in 1920—met for the first time in the World Series. Each of the first three games was decided by just one run, with the Yankees winning two of them. In Game 4 at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, the Dodgers were ahead 4-3 in the ninth. The first two Yankees grounded out, and the Dodgers were just one out away from evening the Series at two games apiece.
To this day, people will argue about what happened next. Dodger relief ace Hugh Casey struck out Tommy Henrich, but the pitch got past catcher Mickey Owen – some people said it was a spitball, some said Owen got crossed up, some said he just flat-out missed it – and Henrich made it to first base.
Which opened the floodgates. Joe DiMaggio singled, Charlie Keller doubled, Bill Dickey walked, and Joe Gordon doubled. By the time Casey got out of the inning, the Yankees were up 7-4 and that’s how the game ended. The Yankees closed out the Series the next afternoon when Tiny Bonham beat Whitlow Wyatt, 3-1.
OK, so we’re already well into this podcast and we’re nowhere near 1955. At least not temporally. But it’s the 1941 World Series that would set the tone for the relationship between these teams, and for their fans … especially for Dodger fans …