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1963 World Series: Johnny Podres, Moose Skowron give Dodgers 2-0 lead

4-1 win at Yankee Stadium in Game 2

Johnny Podres Whips One Platewards
American professional baseball player and starting pitcher Johnny Podres of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws out a pitch in the fifth inning of the second game of the World Series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, the Bronx, New York, October 3, 1963. Podres was a key player in helping the Dodgers win the four-game 1963 Series.
Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

After winning Game 1 of the 1963 World Series with the best pitcher in the world (Sandy Koufax) on the mound, the Dodgers opted against starting their other workhorse and last year’s Cy Young Award winner Don Drysdale in Game 2.

Part of the reasoning manager Walt Alston didn’t go with Drysdale, who had a 2.63 ERA in 315⅓ innings this season, in Game 2 was due to the dimensions of Yankee Stadium and the short porch in right field. Instead, Alston chose left-hander Johnny Podres.

“If I’m going to use [Podres] twice,” Alston told the Associated Press before the series. “I want to pitch him at least once at Yankee Stadium, where he might make it harder for their left-handed batters to hit the short right-field seats.”

Podres has a history at Yankee Stadium. He pitched a shutout in Game 7 in 1955, delivering the first championship in franchise history to Brooklyn. He was 22 years old then and is 30 now, when he posted a 3.54 ERA in 198⅓ innings, though that ERA was 3.20 before he allowed eight runs to Philadelphia in his last start of the season in a meaningless game after the Dodgers already clinched.

Alston’s gambit worked like a charm, as once again the Yankees did not score until very late in the game. The Dodgers won 4-1 to take a 2-0 series lead.

None of the Yankees left-handers (Roger Maris, Joe Pepitone, Tony Kubek) had hits, combining to go 0-for-8.

Podres entered the ninth looking for a shutout, after pitching five of them during the regular season. But a one-out ground-rule double to left field by Hector Lopez ended his day. Ron Perranoski allowed a single to Elston Howard to bring home New York’s only run, then got a groundout and a strikout to close out the win.

“I was tired and we have the best relief pitcher in baseball in Perranoski,” Podres told reporters after Game 2, per Maxwell Stiles in the Los Angeles Evening Citizen News. “Why not let him in?”

For the game, Podres allowed only six hits and a walk, with four strikeouts.

“John Podres, that celebrated bon vivant, marriage counselor (he counsels against it) and woodcraft instructor, expertly stuffed the Yankee bats into their hip pockets,” wrote Jim Murray in the Los Angeles Times. “I have to think that every time John peered in and noticed it wasn’t Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Ken Boyer or Orlando Cepeda standing there, he had to feel a sense of relief.”

The Dodgers started out hot, with a Maury Wills single to center followed by a steal of second base on a pickoff move. Jim Gilliam singled and Wills was held at third base, but the throw home allowed Gilliam to advance to second base. Willie Davis followed with a double over the head of a falling Maris in right field and three batters into the game, Al Downing had already allowed two runs.

Moose Skowron, the former Yankees first baseman, struggled in his first year in Los Angeles, hitting just .203/.252/.289 with four home runs in 89 games. The right-handed batter was limited to mostly platoon duty since May, but he started both games of the World Series in Yankee Stadium with left-handers Whitey Ford and Downing on the mound.

Showron had two hits and two RBI in Game 1, and in Game 2 he had two more hits, including a solo home run off Downing to start the fourth inning, upping the Dodgers lead to 3-0.

The Dodgers traded pitcher Stan Williams to the Yankees for Skowron last November, after he played nine years in New York.

Winning first 2 World Series games on the road

Year 2-0 road team Opponent Result
Year 2-0 road team Opponent Result
1914 Braves A's 4-0
1927 Yankees Pirates 4-0
1929 A's Cubs 4-1
1938 Yankees Cubs 4-0
1950 Yankees Phillies 4-0
1963 Dodgers Yankees TBD
Source: Baseball Reference

“I know the Yankees had to trade me. They needed pitching so I’m thankful to them that I was traded to a swell outfit lik the Dodgers,” Skowron told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s like a dream.”

The Davis boys conspired against reliever Ralph Terry in the eighth. Willie Davis doubled to right field, and Tommy Davis tripled him home, providing an insurance run.

Tommy Davis had two triples in Game 2, after three hits in Game 1. He’s the fifth player in history with two triples in a World Series game. On the first triple, Maris hurt his arm running into the foul wall in right field and left the game.

The Dodgers are obviously in the driver’s seat, having won the first two games of the series and now return home to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. They are just the sixth team to win the first two games of the World Series on the road, and the first since the Yankees in 1950. Four of the previous five series ended in sweeps, and the other was finished off in five games.

Previous 1963 reviews: Snider to Mets | Nate Oliver | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | All-Star Game | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Ed Roebuck | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20 | Week 21 | Week 22 | Week 23 | Week 24 | Week 25 | World Series Game 1

Game 2 particulars

Home run: Bill Skowron

WP — Johnny Podres: 8⅓ IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

LP — Al Downing: 5 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

Up next

The Fall Classic shifts to Los Angeles, beginning with Game 3 on Saturday, October 5 at Dodger Stadium after a travel day. Don Drysdale will get the start for the Dodgers, while the Yankees will turn to second-year right-hander Jim Bouton, who issued the fifth-most ball fours in the American League this year.