GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – Johnny Podres, who pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series title in 1955, died Sunday at the age of 75.
A spokesman for Glens Falls Hospital confirmed Podres’ death but said he didn’t know any details. The left-hander was a four-time all-star and the first Most Valuable Player in World Series history. He became a hero to every baseball fan in Brooklyn when the Dodgers ended decades of frustration by beating the Yankees to win the World Series.
It was the first time a team had won a best-of-seven World Series after losing the first two games, and it was Brooklyn’s only World Series victory. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.
The Dodgers lost the first two games of at Yankee Stadium, then the Dodgers won the third 8-3 at Ebbets Field. Podres, going the distance on his 23rd birthday, scattered seven hits.
In the climactic seventh game, at Yankee Stadium, Podres shut out New York 2-0 on eight hits, relying on his fastball and a deceptive changeup.
As the story goes, Podres told his teammates to get him just one run and the Dodgers would win Game 7. They got him two, and the franchise celebrated its first and only championship while playing in Brooklyn.
Years later, Podres was uncertain he made such a brash statement.
“I don’t know if I said it or not. That’s what they said I said,” a grinning Podres recalled in 2005. “Probably young and dumb – something like that would haunt you your whole life. … You put on a big league uniform, you’ve got to think you’re pretty good.”
Tommy Byrne, the losing pitcher in that game, died Dec. 20.
Podres’ career spanned 15 years with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres. He retired in 1969 at age 36 with a lifetime record of 148-116.
Podres also served as a pitching coach when he was older, helping develop Frank Viola when he was with the Minnesota Twins and Curt Schilling when he was on the Philadelphia Phillies staff.