There are many in New York City and elsewhere just
drooling at the thought of another World Series matchup:
the New York Yankees versus the New York Mets. It would
be the ultimate battle for Big Apple bragging rights.
Only this time around it would not be Brooklyn versus
the Bronx - it would be Queens versus the Bronx - travel
distance eight miles.
The only question is will how many players and fans will
travel by subway as they once did which was how the term
"Subway Series" came to be.
Back in 1889 the New York Times observed: "The
competition between Brooklyn and New York as regards
baseball is unparalleled in the history of the national
The competition may have been
unparalleled but it was also unequal. Throughout most of
their history the Dodgers of Brooklyn were a sad sack
team. The Yankees were the royalty of baseball.
It was not until 1941 that the rivalry between the two
franchises reached fever pitch in the first Subway
Series. The results were predictable. The Yankees won.
There was another Brooklyn-New York Subway Series in
1947 - same result. In 1949 - same result. In 1952, in
1953 - same results.
"Dem Bums" of Brooklyn won the National League pennant
in 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953. But the
team had never won the World Series. Going into the 1955
Fall Classic, their last five defeats were at the hands
of the Yankees.
Whitey Ford bested Don Newcombe as the Yankee won Game
One of the series. That was the game with the
controversial "steal" of home by Jackie Robinson.
Brilliant pitching by 35-year-old Tommy Byrne gave the
Yanks a victory in Game Two. Brooklyn fans took heart in
the fact their team dropped the first two contests by a
combined three runs. But the history was that no team
had ever won a seven-game World Series after losing the
first two games.
In Game Three, Johnny Podres came up big, holding the
Yankees to seven hits. The Brooks won 8-3. They won Game
Four, 8-5, to tie the series.
The largest crowd to ever see a World Series game at
Ebbets Field showed up on October 2nd. Sophomore manager
Walt Alston started slim rookie Roger Craig in Game
Five. Stengel tabbed 1954 Rookie of the Year Bob Grim.''
Incredibly, the Dodgers won again, 5-3. One more win and
the mighty Yanks would be World Series losers.
It was southpaw Karl Spooner against southpaw Whitey
Ford at Yankee Stadium. Spooner lasted only through the
first inning. He walked two, yielded singles to Berra
and Bauer and a two run dinger by Hank Bauer. Five runs.
Spooner would never pitch in the major leagues again.
Ford, at the top of his game, in the
fourth year of his 16 year Hall of Fame career, was
having fun. He gave up just four hits as the Yankees
stayed alive with a 5-1 win.
After giving up one of the four hits, Yogi Berra told
him: "Your slider ain't workin' good, Whitey. Don't
throw no more."
"Aw, Yog'," Ford said, "Don't be a spoil sport. I need
the practice. Let me throw it to this guy."
"No more," Berra insisted. "...The World Series ain't
the right time to horse around."
On October 4, 1955, 23-year-old Johnny Podres took the
mound for the most important game of his life. He was
opposed by Tommy Byrne, a dozen years his senior. Each
pitcher had won a game in the series. There were 62,465
in attendance at Yankee Stadium.
Hits by Gil Hodges in the fourth and sixth innings gave
the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the sixth,
Junior Gilliam came in from left field to play second
base and Sandy Amoros took his place.
Mantle walked to start the Yankee sixth. McDougald
bunted for a single. Berra was next. Mel Allen's call
brings back the time:
"Johnny Podres on the mound. Dodgers leading 2-0 . . .
The outfield swung away toward right. Sandy Amoros is
playing way into left-center. Berra is basically a pull
Here's the pitch. Berra swings and he does hit one to
the opposite field, down the left field line . . . Sandy
Amoros races over toward the foul line . . . and he
makes a sensational, running, one-handed catch! He
turns, whirls, fires to Pee Wee Reese. Reese fires to
Gil Hodges at first base in time to double up McDougald.
And the Yankees' rally is stymied!"
"I run and run and run" was how Amoros characterized one
of the most dramatic moments in baseball history. After
all these years Jerry Coleman is not as impressed with
what happened as others: "It wasn't so much that Amoros
made a great catch. It was the way he went after it in
the sun. A better fielder would have made it easier. . .
the circumstance was that we may have had a tie ball
game...as it turned out, that was out last chance."
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Mel
Allen, loyal to a fault, turned the microphone over to
Vin Scully. "Howard hits a ground ball to Reese. He
throws to Hodges... the Brooklyn Dodgers are World
The precise moment was 3:43 P.M. on October 4, 1955.
Brooklyn streets were clogged with celebrating fans.
Honking car horns, clanging pots and pans, and shredded
newspaper all punctuated that one singular moment.
In the borough-wide party that night, there were 50
complaints of noise and 10 false fire alarms. Some one
billion flakes of tickertape, shredded newspapers and
torn telephone books were swept off Court Street the
"It was the first and only world championship the
Brooklyn Dodgers ever had," their storied centerfielder
Duke Snider said. "You had to pinch yourself. We finally
had done it."
However, all the celebrating was short-lived and
bittersweet. In 1956, it was Yanks over Dodgers in seven
games. And in 1957 the Dodgers of Brooklyn moved to Los
Pretenders to the throne of "Subway
Series" have sprung up since then - - Yankees versus Los
Angeles Dodgers in transcoastal World Series. Even the
"Shuttle Series" - - the World Series of 1986 between
the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. The name derived
from the two cities that were linked by commuter
air-shuttle routes and shameless commercialism by
shuttle operators Eastern and Pan American.
There are also all the past "Subway Series" footnotes
and sub-plots: Casey Stengel whose glory days were with
the Yankees becoming the first manager of the New York
Metropolitans. Joe Torre, who grew up in Brooklyn,
managing the Mets from 1977-1981 then going on to his
wondrous run as Yankee skipper. Yogi Berra piloting the
Yankees in 1964, the Mets from 1972-1975, and the
Yankees from 1984-1985. He now is a kind of symbol of
the Bronx Bombers after making up with George
Steinbrenner after years of estrangement.
And Daryl Strawberry, one time great star
for the Mets, now a Yankee, is another sub-plot. "I'm on
this side now, a Yankee, but I know lots of Mets fans
back from the old days. Another meeting in October, the
Subway Series in New York City - now that would be
It sure would.