1965 World Series Game Seven

was on sportsnetla the other day during the debates. It was grainy and b/w but still a thrill to watch what I’d considered the greatest game seven pitching performance since Johnny Podres, when you consider the context

Sandy Koufax was pitching on two days rest,  on the road, against a powerful Twin lineup, and shut them out. I might be biased.

Other notable Game 7’s since 1955:

  • Mickey Lolich in 1968 with two days rest Lolich beat the Cardinals 4 – 1.
  • Lew Burdette in 1957 with two days rest threw a shutout, Lew also threw a shutout in game 5.
  • Ralph Terry threw a 1 – 0 shutout in game 7 but he did it on five days rest after winning game five. I’m assuming rain was involved
  • Jack Morris in 1991 threw a ten-inning shutout to win game seven 1 – 0.  He did it at home, and hadn’t started since game four, but it was still one of the greatest game seven performances ever.
  • In 2001 Randy Johnson started game six and won, then pitched two innings in relief in game seven and won.
  • Madison Bumgarner in 2014 won game five pitching a complete game shutout, and came back on two days rest to pitch five innings of shutout ball in relief to win game seven.

The Dodgers had lost the first two games in Minneapolis, with the Twins beating both Drysdale and Koufax. Claude Osteen righted the ship by shutting out the Twins in game 3. Drysdale came back to win game four. On Oct 11th, Sandy shut them out 7 – 0 and the Dodgers had a 3 – 2 game lead but the series was headed back to Minneapolis. The powerful Twins behind Mudcat Grant beat Osteen to even the series at 3 games a piece.

Now it was Oct 14th, and Sandy was starting game 7. Or was he?  Both Sandy and Don warmed up in the bullpen, Don had an extra day of rest, but Walter Alston went with Sandy Koufax.  Don Drysdale continued to warm up each inning just in case he was needed.

It looks like he sat down for good after the 5th.  Lou Johnson was the hitting star,  slugging a home run to break a scoreless game in the 4th inning. That would be the only run Sandy Koufax would need but it was not without some help. Junior Jim Gilliam who was usually replaced for defensive purposes by John Kennedy made a sparkling backhand of a shot down the line by AL MVP Zoilo Versalles with runners on 1st and 2nd with only one out and turned it into a force out at 3rd base. That was the play of the game as Sandy controlled the Twins the rest of the game.

In watching this old game I was struck by several things:

  • The check swing was sure different. Don Mincher took two swings in the same at-bat that were called check swings, and they were almost full swings, easily would have been called swings in today’s game.  He would have struck out easily in today’s game, I noticed this throughout the game.  I wonder how many K’s that cost pitchers in those days.
  • Pitch Counts were a thing, even in 1965. Vin mentioned how they would need to keep an eye on how many pitches that Don Drysdale was throwing in the bullpen behind Sandy.
  • Vin called the game as though it was any other game in a 162 game season. Very subdued.
  • Vin was surprised and sometimes incredulous that the Twin hitters were going after the first pitch given that Sandy was pitching on two days rest.
  • Maury Wills hooks slide was a thing of beauty. Would have loved to have seen that using today’s replays to see how he evaded gloves.
  • Lou Johnson not only hit the game-winning home run, he also made two fine catches in foul territory from left field.
  • Vin seemed very impressed with Zoilo. I remember him saying years later after we had acquired Zoilo that he had one of the greatest spring training he’d ever seen but once the season started he was horrible.
  • Batting helmets were just being used, most players still wore only hats.
  • Pitchers were expected to pitch to more than one hitter
  • Even in 1965 in Minneapolis,  the male fans wore shirts and ties, and the woman were all in skirts.
  • The Championship celebration was incredibly muted.  Some hugs, and then they simply left the field and headed for the clubhouse.
  • I had the 1964 Twin baseball cards when I was around seven (1965) and seeing Tony Olivo, Harmon Killebrew, Bobby Allison, and Zoilo Versalles was a kick in the pants. Tony was infamous for losing his bat after his swings and sure enough,  he sent the bat flying about 30 yards at least twice.


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