Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Johnny Podres: 1932 - 2008

I'm a little late on this front, but it's been a crazy couple days.
As a Dodgers fan and a fan of the game in general, I mourn the passing of Johnny Podres, who died Sunday at the age of 75.

The Dodgers have quite a history with legendary lefties

Without Johnny Podres, the Dodgers wouldn't have won their very first World Series in 1955. Most sports fans know the lore: The Dodgers faced the Yankees in the World Series five times before 1955 and lost every single time. Despite being a consistent Top 5 team, Brooklyn could never manage to clinch the Series.

In 1955, the Dodgers faced the Yankees in the World Series for the 6th time. After losing the first two games, 23-year-old lefty Podres pitched a complete 7-hit game and lead the Dodgers to a Game 3 victory. In a now infamous story, Podres told his teammates before the climactic Game 7 at Yankee Stadium to just get him one run and he would guarantee them victory. The team got him two and Podres pitched a complete game shutout, leading the Dodgers to their first World Series championship (and only one in Brooklyn). His performance in the Series earned him the first-ever World Series MVP award and ended the decades-long suffering of the Brooklyn faithful.

At Yankee Stadium, just after the final out of Game 7 in 1955.

1955 is, without a doubt, the most pivotal year in Dodgers history, and it wouldn't have happened without Podres. Nothing is held more dear by Dodgers fans than that first championship: we had to fight like dogs to get it, running into the seemingly untouchable behemoth that was (and is) the Yankees over and over again. Just when it seemed like it would never happen, we finally broke through and beat the unbeatable Yankees. And it wouldn't have happened without Podres' masterful performances.

I want to paste the following paragraph from Wikipedia, just because it's nothing short of amazing: "In his 15-season career, Podres compiled a 148-116 record with 1435 strikeouts, a 3.68 ERA, and 24 shutouts in 440 games. He was at his best in the World Series, losing his first Series game (in 1953), then winning four straight decisions over the next decade. In six Series games, he allowed only 29 hits in 38⅓ innings, with a 2.11 ERA adorning his 4-1 won/loss record."

Podres was also on the Dodgers' championship teams in 1959, 1963 and 1965. I would feel like a blasphemer if I even deigned to think that he was better than Koufax (because no one is or has been better in the history of the game) but his contribution to the sport of baseball and to the rich history of the Dodgers is almost beyond measure.

His presence in the baseball world will be sorely missed.

1 comment:

danielletbd said...

Aw, Brad Renfro died today, too :(