The End of a Dynasty: Games 3 and 4 (Dodger Stadium)

Up two games to none in the World Series, the 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers came home in early October halfway to a victory over the New York Yankees. They played the Yanks a number of times before, only winning once (1955). If they could win two of three In LA, they would double that total.

Game 3 (5 October)

Don Drysdale

Don Drysdale

For the third game, Los Angeles led with the reigning Cy Young Award winner, Don Drysdale. For the season he’d been overshadowed by mound mate Sandy Koufax, but he was still a formidable pitcher. He drew 21 game winner Jim Bouton as his pitching opponent.

Drysdale got through the first inning without a problem. Then the Dodgers, as they’d done before in the Series, struck early. With one out in the bottom of the first, Jim Gilliam walked. A lineout and a wild pitch sent him to second. National League batting champion Tommy Davis then lined a single scoring Gilliam with the first run of the game. A foul to the catcher ended the inning with the Dodgers ahead 1-0.

It was all Drysdale needed. He pitched a magnificent nine inning shutout. In the second and the sixth, runners got as far as third, and died on the bag. He was in most trouble in the second when a single, a hit batsman, and an intentional walk with two outs loaded the bases. Drysdale then struck out the opposing pitcher to end the threat. For the game he hit the one man (Drysdale always seemed to hit a lot of batters), allowed the one intentional walk, and gave up only three hits, all singles (and never more than one an inning), and picked off a batter. He struck out nine.

After giving up the run in the first, Bouton was almost as good. He gave up four hits, struck out four, and gave up the one run. He did walk five, one the critical walk to Gilliam in the first. It was a good performance, not good enough.

Drysdale pitched the game of the Series (Koufax’s 15 strikeout performance in game one not withstanding) and gave Los Angeles a three games to none lead. They needed one more win in four tries to claim their second title (the other was in 1959) since arriving in LA. With Koufax on the mound in game four, the odds looked good.

Game 4 (6 October)

Jim Gilliam

Jim Gilliam

To begin game four both teams did what they needed to do, they started their aces: Sandy Koufax for the Dodgers and Whitey Ford for the Yanks. Both men were on that day. Through four innings, no one scored. In fact no one got beyond second base. In the bottom of the fifth, LA finally broke through when big Frank Howard crushed one to deep left to put the Dodgers up 1-0. It held up until the seventh, when Mickey Mantle connected for a long drive to left that knotted the game 1-1. It was a historic home run because it tied Mantle with Babe Ruth for the most home runs by any player in World Series history (15).

In the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers struck again and as was usual for this Series, Jim Gilliam was in the middle of it. He led off the inning with a roller to third. New York third baseman Clete Boyer picked it up and fired to Yankees first baseman Joe Pepitone. In 1963 most male baseball fans still wore white shirts to public events. It was a warm enough day for most of them to shuck their jackets and Pepitone swore he lost the ball in the sea of white shirts. Whether he did or not, he missed the ball and by the time it was retrieved Gilliam was safe at third. Willie Davis followed with a long sacrifice fly that gave the LA a 2-1 lead.

The Yanks tried to rally in the eighth. With one out, Phil Linz singled, but was erased on a double play. The Dodgers failed to dint the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth, leaving them ahead by one run with three outs needed to clinch the World Series. Bobby Richardson led off the inning with a single, then Koufax struck out two Yanks to put the Dodgers within one out of a championship. An error put runners on first and second and brought up Hector Lopez. He rolled a grounder to short and a throw to first made the Dodgers champs. For his two complete game victories, Koufax was named Series MVP.

It’s very difficult to call a four game sweep a great Series, but 1963 was certainly a very good World Series. Three games (all but the first) were very close and New York had a lot of chances to tie or win games. It was also, as is appropriate for a 1960s World Series, dominated by pitching. The Dodgers pitchers had a collective ERA of 1.00. They gave up four total runs, all earned, walked five, struck out 37, and gave up 22 hits. The Yankees weren’t much worse. Their ERA was 2.91 with 12 earned runs (one unearned), with 11 walks, 25 strikeouts, and only 25 hits given up.

But in fairness to the hitters, they didn’t do all that badly either. LA hit all of .214 for the Series, but had thee doubles, two triples, and three home runs (of 25 total hits). New York hit only .171 with five extra base hits. Jim Gilliam was an unsung hero for the Dodgers. He hit only .154, but scored three runs on two hits and three walks. Willie Davis and John Roseboro had three RBIs, as did Yankees castoff Moose Skowron. No New Yorker scored more than one run and only Tom Tresh had more than one RBI (he had two–both on his home run), but Mickey Mantle did tie Babe Ruth for total World Series home runs.

For New York it was the first World Series loss in three tries under Ralph Houk. It signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankee dynasty that had dominated baseball for four decades. They would get to another Series in 1964, but lose it also. Then there would be a long dry spell until 1976 (which they also lost) and 1977 when they were able to win another World Series (and get revenge on LA). For the Dodgers it was the first of three pennants in four years and the first of two championships (the other was 1965).



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8 Responses to “The End of a Dynasty: Games 3 and 4 (Dodger Stadium)”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Excellent job, V. In those days, it seems that great pitching really could beat great hitting. I wonder if Kershaw and Greinke will be for the Dodgers in the playoffs this year what Koufax and Drysdale were back then?

    • verdun2 Says:

      As a Dodgers fan I’d love it, but I’m not holding my breath.
      I was glad my son got to see the 2001 Series (Johnson/Schilling) so he could see for himself that I wasn’t exaggerating about what 2 quality pitchers like Koufax and Drysdale could do in a Series. We’ll see if Kershaw and Greinke are equal to those pairs.
      Thanks for reading, Bill.

    • Bruce Thiesen Says:

      To hear Vin talk about it, Kershaw and Greinke are holding their own in Dodgers history. He knows good pitching and can’t seem to get enough of these two guys. They are fun to watch, even for a Giants fan.

  2. Glen Says:

    V, everyone knows that you’re a Dodger fan, but I seem to recall that your son is a Twins fan, for some reason, right? I seem to remember that. He must have read, no doubt, about the Twins winning the pennant in 1964, based largely on their great hitting and fine pitching staff. Speaking of 1-2 punches, pitchers who had a great years such as that had by Jim Kaat and Mudcat Grant don’t come everyday, either. No, they weren’t Koufax and Drysdale, but they were nothing to sneeze at, either.

    I’d be a Twins fan before I’d be a Dodgers fan (you know the deal; half of the maternal side of my family grew up in Brooklyn, including my grandfather and my cousin who you see in my “gravatar”, the great boxer Bummy Davis), so, being that the Dodgers gave the middle finger to Brooklyn, I’m sure you understand.

    By the way, it seems incredible to me that Jim Bouton was ever a great pitcher, but he was. Thank goodness he had his priorities and a great sense of humor and had good perspectove, and realized that there was more to life than being a great pitcher, because he became a LOUSY one. But two great books came out of his baseball experiences, both good and bad, “Ball Four” and “I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally.” I wonder if he would have written the book if he was still with the Yankees in 1969 and still pitching great. After all, he always had a great sense of humor, even when he was a great pitcher with the Bronx Bombers. I was lucky enough to get ahold of a Sporting News issue from somewhere between 1962 and 1964, and in it, there’s actually a pictorial of he and his wife holding up some of the paintings that he painted, and they were really good. (Not that I’m an art conoussoir, but they were good, in my opinion), but the part about “designing costume jewelry” in the thing I’m posting below was more or less a joke, as I seem to have recalled Jim saying in one of his books when they asked him what his hobbies were (everyone else on the team said “hunting” and stuff like that, not that I have anything against hunting, because I don’t).

    Nice job as usual, V.

    This is what I was telling you about when I wrote about Jim Bouton telling about “designing costume jewelry”. (this is from the 1965 Official Yearbook. The line about the designing of costume jewelry is in the second to last paragraph.


  3. Glen Says:

    I screwed THAT up. Here’s the link again, and this time it should link.


  4. keithosaunders Says:

    All those years the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the Series yet they never swept them. This was the first World Series played in [then] brand new Dodger Stadium and what a great one!

  5. Steve Myers Says:

    I guess that’s part of the coliseum behind Drysdale? From the Olympics? Those horse shoe arches? Adds some legend to the Drysdale wind up ad pitch

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