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Bums of Summer No More

The 1955 Dodgers won the franchise's first World Series title and did it with style. They'll be honored today.

August 28, 2005|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

Talk about a tough crowd. The 1955 World Series champion Dodgers are such a tight fraternity that even Hall of Fame pitchers and managers feel fortunate to belong.

When he's with his former Brooklyn Dodger teammates, Sandy Koufax isn't the best Dodger pitcher ever. He reverts to being a timid rookie who couldn't find home plate.

And when Tom Lasorda is with them, he isn't the widely recognized former manager and Dodger goodwill ambassador. He reverts to being a fringe pitcher who was lucky to get the ball in relief a couple of times.

Nine of the 13 living members of the '55 team were at a news conference Saturday in the Dugout Club at Dodger Stadium commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Dodger title.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday August 30, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Johnny Podres -- An article in Sunday's Sports section about the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers said that pitcher Johnny Podres was a rookie in 1955. Podres' rookie season was 1953.

Koufax and Lasorda were all but ignored by reporters who focused on stars from the team, including pitchers Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres and Carl Erskine. Podres, a brash rookie at the time, won Game 3 and Game 7 of the World Series against the New York Yankees.

Although he has had health problems in recent years, Podres became animated recalling the pivotal games he pitched.

In Game 3, catcher Roy Campanella "used my changeup more than I ever had, probably 20 times," Podres said. "So in Game 7, in the Yankees' backyard, Campy established that changeup early in the game, then it was all hard stuff. I was bringing it up there about 94 mph."

Podres guaranteed his mostly veteran teammates the day before Game 7 that the Dodgers would win if they scored one run. They scored two, winning, 2-0, against an opponent that had defeated the Dodgers in four of the previous eight World Series.

The memories had a distinct 1950s feel. Podres said that from the fourth inning through the ninth, he ducked into the clubhouse for a cigarette when the Dodgers batted.

"When there were two out, I'd step on the butt and get back out there," he said.

Podres vividly recalled the final out, a ground ball to shortstop and team captain Pee Wee Reese.

"All of a sudden, all those years the Boys of Summer had been trying to chase the Yankees and couldn't get there, the 'Wait till next year' and 'Who's a bum,' there was a ground ball to Pee Wee, and they weren't bums no more," Podres said.

The 13 living former players and family members of several deceased players and coaches from the '55 team will be honored before today's game against Houston. The Dodgers will wear throwback Brooklyn jerseys.

Character and team chemistry have been strong themes recently under Dodger owner Frank McCourt, especially in light of several embarrassing incidents involving players. He pointed to the '55 team as embodying the qualities he wants in his current Dodgers.

"It's important to celebrate not just winning, but a type of winning we can respect," McCourt said. "This is a team we can all relate to. They had that thing called character. This is a team worthy of this weekend's celebration."



Living legends

The Dodgers will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first world championship team in franchise history during pregame ceremonies today:

* The 13 living players: Bob Borkowski, Roger Craig, Carl Erskine, Sandy Koufax, Clem Labine, Tommy Lasorda, Billy Loes, Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres, Ed Roebuck, George Shuba, Duke Snider, Don Zimmer.

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