Even though 2009 brought us closer to the Freeway World Series than ever, both the Dodgers and Angels are now done for the season, watching like the rest of us as the Phillies and Yankees square off in the World Series. This is a rematch of the 1950 Fall Classic, between Casey Stengel's Yankees and the Whiz Kid Phillies. The Phillies, the youngest team in the league, were able to hold off a furious rally by the Brooklyn Dodgers to win their second pennant, and first in 35 seasons.
In 1950, the Dodgers lost to the Cubs on September 18 for their fourth straight defeat, and stood nine games back of the Phillies, in third place, with 17 games left to play. The Dodgers proceeded to win their next seven games, and 12 of the next 15, heading into the final two games at Ebbets Field against Philadelphia down by just two games. The Dodgers, who finished the season with 22 home games in their final 24 contests, won the first game 7-3.
Heading into the final Sunday, a pair of 23-year old 19-game winners faced off on the mound. Don Newcombe started for the Dodgers, who needed to beat future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts to force a three-game playoff. The game was a pitcher's duel, each allowing just one run through nine innings. In the top of the tenth inning, Newcombe allowed to runners to reach base, bringing Dick Sisler to the plate.
1950 was the first year of a young announcer from Fordham, who came to the Dodgers to learn from broadcasting legend Red Barber. Vin Scully, who was just 22 years old that year, remembered the pressure of the 1950 playoff in a broadcast earlier this year.
Sisler launched an opposite field home run off Newcombe to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead. Roberts retired the Dodgers in the 10th inning, giving the Phillies the pennant. Scully recalled that after that home run, he didn't think the pressure and pain of losing could get any bigger than that. Then, as Vin does best, paused for a beat, and added, "then 1951 happened."
1950 was in the middle of the Dodgers' amazing run atop the National League. Over an 11 year period, they either won the pennant or lost on the final day of the season in nine seasons:
|1946||96-60||lost first ever NL playoff to Cardinals|
|1947||94-60||won NL pennant|
|1948||84-70||finished 7½ GB of Braves|
||won NL pennant|
|1950||89-65||lost on final day to Phillies|
|1951||97-60||lost NL playoff to Giants|
|1952||96-57||won NL pennant|
|1953||105-49||won NL pennant|
|1954||92-62||finished 5 GB of Giants|
|1955||98-55|| won World Series
|1956||93-61||won NL pennant|
The Whiz Kid Phillies got swept by the Yankees in 1950, scoring just five runs in four games. I expect the 2009 Phillies will do better than their brethren from 59 years ago, but it still won't be enough. Yankees in six.