1978 was the first of ten consecutive years that saw ten different teams win the World Series, a string unprecedented in Major League Baseball history. The Los Angeles Dodgers would break the string with a World Series win in 1988 (as they won in the 1981 World Series).
This Series had two memorable confrontations between Dodger rookie pitcher Bob Welch and the Yankees' Reggie Jackson. In Game 2, Welch struck Jackson out in the top of the ninth with two outs and the tying and winning runs on base to end the game. Jackson would get his revenge in Game 6 by smashing a two-run homer off Welch in the seventh to increase the Yankees' lead from 5–2 to 7–2 and put a final "exclamation point" on the Yankees' victory.
New York YankeesEdit
It wasn’t easy for these two teams to repeat as their respective league’s champions, both scrambling back to the Fall Classic late in the season. The New York Yankees were as far back as fourteen games behind the Boston Red Sox at mid-July suffering from injuries to pitchers Catfish Hunter and Jim Beattie. A public display of antipathy between manager Billy Martin and slugger Reggie Jackson resulted in the replacement of Martin by the amenable, easygoing Bob Lemon on July 17. With time running out, the Yankees, four games behind the Red Sox in the American League East, began a crucial four-game series in Boston. On September 7, the Yanks began the "Boston Massacre" with a 15–3 drubbing of the “Sox” with second baseman Willie Randolph driving in five runs. The assault continued with the Yankees winning game two, 13–2, game three, 7–0 (Ron Guidry winning his 21st—a two-hitter) and game four, an eighteen-hit, 7–4 victory completing the sweep. The Yankees and Red Sox were now tied for first place with twenty games remaining for both clubs. Overall, New York would win 48 of their last 68 games finishing the regular season in a dead-heat with Boston. The Yanks went on to win a one-game playoff (5–4) on October 2nd made famous by light hitting Bucky Dent's clutch three-run homer in the seventh inning (his fifth of the year). Ron Guidry would win his 25th game (against only three losses); Goose Gossage pitching the last 2 2/3 innings picking up his 27th save, retiring hall of famer Carl Yastrzemski with a man on base for the final out.
Los Angeles DodgersEdit
In the National League the Los Angeles Dodgers were locked in a tight three way race with the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds falling as far as 6 ½ games back. Taking a lesson from the in-fighting Yankees, this normally close-knit group caught fire after a clubhouse fight between teammates Steve Garvey and Don Sutton in August, ultimately finishing 2 ½ games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. Unlike the 1977 Dodgers with four 30+ home run hitters, this squad’s leader in home runs was Reggie Smith with 29. No pitcher won twenty or more games but five pitchers did win at least ten games. Rookie Bob Welch was a key after being promoted from the minors; he won nine games while being utilized as both a starter and reliever.
During the World Series the Dodgers wore black armbands in dedication to coach Jim Gilliam, who died from a brain hemorrhage two (2) days before the start of the Series. His uniform number nineteen was also retired by the Dodgers two days after his death.
League Championship SeriesEdit
- Main article: 1978 American League Championship Series
In a repeat of the 1977 playoffs the New York Yankees again dispatched the Kansas City Royals, this time three games to one as the Los Angeles Dodgers did the same to the Philadelphia Phillies by the same margin. After losing the first two games of the World Series, the Yankees would become the first team ever to come back to win the Series in six. This marked the last time to-date that the same teams appeared in the World Series in back-to-back years. Bob Lemon became 1st man to win a World Series Game as a pitcher (2-games for Cleveland in 1948) and as a manager.
|1||New York Yankees – 5, Los Angeles Dodgers – 11||October 10||Dodger Stadium||55,997|
|2||New York Yankees – 3, Los Angeles Dodgers – 4||October 11||Dodger Stadium||55,982|
|3||Los Angeles Dodgers – 1, New York Yankees – 5||October 13||Yankee Stadium||56,447|
|4||Los Angeles Dodgers – 3, New York Yankees – 4 (10 innings)||October 14||Yankee Stadium||56,445|
|5||Los Angeles Dodgers – 2, New York Yankees – 12||October 15||Yankee Stadium||56,448|
|6||New York Yankees – 7, Los Angeles Dodgers – 2||October 17||Dodger Stadium||55,985|
HRs: NYY – Reggie Jackson (1) LAD – Dusty Baker (1), Davey Lopes 2 (2)
With Yankee ace Ron Guidry unavailable at least until Game 3, the Dodgers pounded twenty-game winner Ed Figueroa. Figueroa left after two innings, allowing home runs to Dusty Baker and Davey Lopes. Lopes would add a three-run shot in the fourth off Ken Clay to make it 6–0. Another Dodger run crossed the plate in the fifth; Ron Cey scoring on a Clay wild pitch.
The Yankees tried to claw back in the seventh as Reggie Jackson homered and Bucky Dent singled in two runs, but the Dodgers bounced back with three of their own, two coming on a Bill North double. The Dodgers would cruise to an easy Game 1 win from there.
HRs: LAD – Ron Cey (1)
Ron Cey drove in all the Dodgers' runs with an RBI single in the fourth and a three-run homer in the sixth off Yankee starter Catfish Hunter. Reggie Jackson would try to keep pace by batting in all three of the Yankee runs with a two-run double and RBI groundout, but this game would be remembered for one memorable Jackson at-bat.
Rookie Bob Welch was brought in to pitch the ninth to save the game for Burt Hooton. He allowed Bucky Dent and Willie Randolph to reach base between outs, bringing up Jackson. Welch ran the count to 3–2. Jackson fouled off several pitches before Welch finally got a fastball by him, sending the Dodger Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
In post-game interviews, Jackson initially blamed his striking out on Bucky Dent running from second with the 3–2 pitch and distracting him from focusing on Welch. In later interviews, however, Jackson would give Welch his proper due.
HRs: NYY – Roy White (1)
Guidry gutted out a complete game, even though he allowed eight hits, walked seven, and struck out only four. Nettles' defense saved at least four runs.
In the third, the Dodgers began to claw back against an apparently-tired Guidry. However, this third inning was when the Graig Nettles show began. With a runner on third, Davey Lopes lined hard to Nettles, saving a run. Bill Russell followed with a single to drive in the Dodgers only run. The next batter, Reggie Smith, hit a hard ground ball that Nettles speared and threw to second for a force play to end the inning.
In the fifth, the Dodgers had runners on first and second with two outs when Smith once again was victimized. Nettles made a diving stop of his liner down the third base line. Smith reached first, but no runs scored. The next batter hit into a force to Nettles to end the inning. The Dodgers loaded the bases again with two outs in the sixth, but Nettles made a great stop on a ball hit by Davey Lopes to again complete a force play.
With all the Dodgers' scoring opportunities squandered, the Yankees made them pay in the seventh with three runs. Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson had RBI singles in the rally that put the game out of reach.
HRs: LAD – Reggie Smith (1)
Starters Ed Figueroa and Tommy John were locked in a scoreless duel before Reggie Smith struck with a three-run homer in the top of the fifth. John continued his shutout through the fifth, but, in the Yankees' half of the sixth, things got a little crazy.
Reggie Jackson finally got the Yankees on the board with a one-out RBI single. With Thurman Munson on second and Jackson on first, Lou Piniella hit a low, soft liner that shortstop Bill Russell fumbled (some claim intentionally). Russell recovered the ball and stepped on second to force Jackson, but his attempted throw to first to complete the double play struck a confused Jackson in the right hip and caromed into foul territory. Munson scored, partially because first baseman Steve Garvey stopped to yell at the first-base umpire over the non-interference call before retrieving the ball. The Dodgers' protests went for naught.
The Yankees tied it in the eighth when Munson doubled home Paul Blair. The score remained tied until the bottom of the tenth. Dodger rookie and Game 2 hero Bob Welch walked Roy White with one out. After Welch retired Munson, Jackson strode to the plate for his first confrontation with Welch since Game 2. This time, Reggie got the better end by singling White to second. Lou Piniella then lined a single to center, scoring White and tying the Series.
The Yankees took one step closer to a repeat World Series championship on the strength of an unexpected complete game victory by young Jim Beattie. Beattie scattered nine Dodger hits and was buoyed by an eighteen-hit Yankee performance, including a World Series-record sixteen singles.
Early on, the Dodgers tried to run to take advantage of a sore-shouldered Thurman Munson behind the plate. Davey Lopes led the game off with a single, stole second, and scored on a Reggie Smith single. The Dodgers stretched their lead to 2–0 in the third when Lopes scored again on a double by Bill Russell.
But, that would be it as Beattie settled down. The Yankees countered with a four-run third on a two-run single by Munson and RBI singles by Roy White and Lou Piniella. They added three in the fourth, four in the seventh, and one in the eighth to complete the blowout. Munson was the star Yankee hitter with five RBIs, while White had three.
HRs: NYY – Reggie Jackson (2) LAD – Davey Lopes (3)
Davey Lopes gave the Dodger home crowd a ray of hope with a leadoff home run off Catfish Hunter. Dent and Doyle put the Yankees ahead in the second; Doyle with a two-run double, Dent with an RBI single. Lopes had an RBI single in the third to cut it to 3–2, but that would be it for the Dodgers.
Dent and Doyle pushed the score to 5–2 in the sixth with RBI singles and Reggie Jackson put the final nail in the coffin with a tremendous two-run blast in the seventh off his Game 2 nemesis, Bob Welch.
Dent would be named World Series MVP, batting .417 with 10 hits, 7 RBI, and 3 runs scored. Doyle would make a claim for the MVP himself with a .438 average, 7 hits, 2 RBI, and 4 runs.
While Lopes had a monster series with three homers and seven RBIs and Bill Russell had eleven hits, the Dodgers' power hitters and their lack of production was their downfall. Steve Garvey (5-for-24, no RBIs) was no factor, and neither were Dusty Baker (5 for 21, one RBI) or Ron Cey (no RBIs after Game 2).
Thurman Munson caught the final out of the game on a foul pop by Ron Cey. Sadly, this would be the final World Series game of Munson's career before his death during the 1979 season. This game also marked the final World Series game for Catfish Hunter.
|New York Yankees||1||4||6||3||0||4||13||4||0||1||36||68||2|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||2||3||3||4||4||3||3||1||0||0||23||52||7
<tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="14">Total attendance: 337,304 Average attendance: 56,217</td></tr> <tr><td style="text-align:left;" colspan="14">Winning player’s share: $31,237 Losing player’s share: $25,483</td></tr>
The Yankees became the last repeat World Champions until fifteen years later (1992–1993; Toronto Blue Jays). This would be the last time the Yankees would win a World Series until 1996, the longest drought for the franchise, to date.
- ↑ 1978 World Series Game 1 - New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1978 World Series Game 2 - New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1978 World Series Game 3 - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1978 World Series Game 4 - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1978 World Series Game 5 - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- ↑ 1978 World Series Game 6 - New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins, 1990. (Neft and Cohen 371–376)
- Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2206. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-02-579010-2.
- Forman, Sean L.. 1978 World Series. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information.. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.
- 1978 World Series at Baseball-Reference.com
- 1978 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1978 AL East Playoff at MLB.com
- 1978 World Series at Baseball-Almanac.com
- The Yankee D Boys did Double Duty at SI.com
- 1978 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- History of the World Series - 1978 at SportingNews.com
- The Sporting News' Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: Over the Green Monster at SportingNews.com
- The 1978 New York Yankees at baseballlibrary.com
- The 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers at baseballlibrary.com