Walter Alston walked out of his office at Dodger Stadium and into the clubhouse. Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax were sitting in front of Koufax’s locker. Both players turned to look at Alston, and the manager flipped a baseball toward Koufax, turned, and walked away. The decision was made. There would be no explanations or rationalizations. Owner Walter O’Malley scheduled a trip to Japan months ago, and the team was scheduled to leave tomorrow. Koufax or Drysdale would not accompany the team so that did not factor into Alston’s decision. But nobody on the team wanted to leave. It has been a long season, and now a long series. The club was unable to properly celebrate their National League pennant and now a World Series celebration would be cut short by a trans-Pacific flight. The point being this club was tired, yet there would be no grumblings, no excuses; the end was in sight. Koufax and Drysdale broke up their meeting. Koufax finished tying his shoes, took the baseball, and walked out of the clubhouse for the bullpen. Drysdale finished buttoning up his jersey, and followed Koufax to the bull pen.
In the visitor’s clubhouse, the old man of the pitching staff, 23-year-old Dave McNally, prepared for his third start of the season. Pitching coach Harry Breechen walked by McNally and mumbled, “It’s Koufax.” McNally nodded, grabbed his jacket, and walked out with coach Sherm Lollar to the bullpen.
Game Seven of the 1966 World Series began with a called strike to Luis Aparicio. A fast ball. Koufax would be leaning on this fast ball this afternoon. Koufax retired the side, but did pitch around Frank Robinson with a four-pitch walk. The Dodger first began with Maury Wills attempting to reach base with a bunt. Wills had not been a factor in the series, and his bunt went straight to the mound for an easy out. McNally’s first three pitches to Willie Davis missed. The crowd began to stir yet many of them were still going to their seats when McNally released the next pitch. Alston had given Davis the green light, and Davis rewarded his manager’s confidence with a mighty swing. The ball traveled far, and high toward the right field foul pole, and FAIR! Right field umpire Cal Drummond raised his arm and circled his hand to signal the home run. The Dodgers, for the fifth consecutive game, had taken the early lead.
With only two days rest, Koufax stayed with his fastball. He managed to mix in a curve to keep the Orioles honest, but the pitch caused a pain in his elbow. One could not tell the lefthander was in any pain as he appeared to be on cruise control. It was the top of the fifth inning, and Davis’ home run stood as the game’s only run. In fact, it could only be the deciding factor because Koufax had not allowed a base hit. For now, Frank Robinson was the only Oriole to reach base. But, Boog Powell started the fifth by drawing a base on balls from Koufax. The first two pitches to Davey Johnson missed. Johnson pulled the next pitch toward third, and John Kennedy, the defensive replacement for Junior Gilliam the last four games, fielded and started a double play. The crowd roared with approval. Koufax fired two strikes by Paul Blair, but after his next pitch missed, Blair hit a blooper that landed in front of Willie Davis. The Orioles had their first hit off Koufax, but Blair would go no further as Andy Etchebarren struck out, Koufax’ fifth victim.
McNally left the game in the sixth after being lifted for a pinch-hitter as the Orioles looked for any means to reach base. In the seventh, Frank Robinson stepped in to lead off the inning. Koufax’s first pitch, a curve, missed wide. Robinson crept a little closer to the plate. He swung at the next pitch, and pulled it deep toward left field. Tommy Davis did not even bother to turn around as the ball landed up into the stands. The game, the series was tied. Don Drysdale stood up in the bull pen, and began to warm up. Brooks Robinson bounced out to his counterpart, Kennedy, at third, and Powell tested Kennedy again on a first-pitch groundout. After Johnson walked, Drysdale signed that he was ready. Paul Blair, who had homered off Koufax in Game Five, was the next batter. First-pitch fastball. Fly ball to center. Davis steps back, but Blair just missed it. Davis squeezed the ball for the inning’s final out. Two and a half innings remaining to decide the world championship.
The bottom of the seventh started in spectacular fashion. Wes Parker cued a drive over third base. Brooks Robinson raced behind the bag, and with a running backhanded grab, turned, and threw to first from foul territory. Parker was out! John Roseboro followed with a pop fly up the third base line. The ball was drifting back to home and toward the stands. Robinson raced in and made a diving catch for the second out. John Kennedy who was in the game for his defense was the next scheduled hitter. Alston glanced at the scoreboard, back to Kennedy who was standing in the on-deck circle looking back toward the dugout. Alston nodded to Kennedy, and John turned and stepped up to bat. Jim Gilliam put his bat back in the rack. Kennedy watched Drabowsky’s first pitch for a called strike. Kennedy swung. He did not he had hit it that well as he trotted down the first base line. Blair turned and drifted back to the warning track. As Kennedy rounded first, the ball disappeared behind the wall for a home run. Kennedy raced around the bases as his teammates streamed out of the dugout to meet him at home plate. The Dodgers led 2-1, and after Koufax flied out to Blair, the Orioles had two innings remaining in their season.
Andy Etchebarren was hitting like he never had before duirng the season. Even with the great Sandy Koufax on the mound, Etchebarren was confident. All but Etchebarren were surprised by his breakout offensive performance in the Series, and the rookie catcher stepped in to start an inning that would full of surprises. Etchbarren hit a soft liner over second baseman Jim Lefebvre to his seventh base hit for the Series. Bob Johnson was announced as a pinch-hitter for Drabowsky, and Alston walked out of the dugout toward the mound. Alston’s appearance can as a surprise by many, but everyone was surprised when Koufax acquiesced to the request for the ball. Alston had a weapon in his bullpen that was missing last season. Phil Regan trotted out of the bull pen for the final six outs. Baltimore manager Hank Bauer countered by calling Johnson back, and sending Russ Snyder to bat. Regan was looking for a double play grounder, but after his first pitch missed, Snyder pulled a line drive down the right field line. Lou Johnson raced toward the line, cut off the ball, and Snyder held at first. Etchebarren chugged around to third. The tying run was 90 feet away, and the winning run was aboard with those six outs still remaining. For a brief moment, Regan appeared to get that double play grounder as Luis Aparicio grounded to Lefebvre. Snyder was out at second, but Looie still has enough juice in his legs to beat the relay throw. The game was tied. Again. Aparicio danced off first, drew the attention of Regan, but Curt Blefary battled Regan for eight pitches before slicing a pitch over Wills. Tommy Davis raced in. The ball dropped between Davis and Wills, and with a spin, bounced away from Davis. Aparicio rounded second base, and raced to third. Davis corralled the ball, and threw to third base. The hurried throw skipped past Kennedy, and Aparicio continued around to score the go-ahed run. Regan chased down the ball, but his throw home was equally as hurried and late. Blefary advanced to second, and with an open base, it came as no surprise that Frank Robinson was intentionally passed. With everyone in the stadium looking for that double play ball once again, Hank Bauer perhaps out-guessed even himself. On the first pitch, the runners took off. Roseboro fired to third, and his throw was true and in time. Brooks Robinson grounded out to third to end the inning, and the Orioles had a one run advantage. Now it was the Dodgers who had six outs remaining in their season.
Snyder trotted out to left field and Eddie Fisher took the mound to start the Dodger eighth. Maury Wills fouled off a pair of knuckle balls, and then hit a swinging bunt toward the mound. Wills failed to beat Fisher’s throw to first, and the Dodgers were down to five outs. Willie Davis hit Fisher’s first pitch in front of Frank Robinson for a base hit. Lou Johnson followed with a first-pitch blooper to center field for another safety. Two pitches, and the go-ahead run was on base. Stu Miller and Dick Hall were ready in the bullpen. Perhaps the vision of Johnson’s grand slam off Miller remained with Bauer. But, Fisher had finished the season as the Orioles’ top fireman. The Dodgers had not had a solid base hit yet so Bauer gave Fisher the opportunity to douse the fire. As Bauer stayed in the dugout, Walt Alston was sending Ron Fairly to bat for Tommy Davis who was denied a chance for redemption by his manager. Davis was batting .545 for the Series, however all but two of his at-bats were against portsiders. Davis was hitless in those two at-bats. Fairly took a called strike. The next pitch was a pop fly down the left field line. Snyder raced for the line, stretched with a backhand, and the ball dropped inches right of the line. Willie Davis raced home, and the Series was knotted once again. Bauer stayed with Fisher who struck out Lefebvre for the second out. Wes Parker stepped up to bat. The Dodgers had tied the game, but had not had a solid base hit all inning. That is until Parker swung at Fisher’s first offering. Parker laced the ball in the right center field gap that split Blair and Robinson. Johnson scored and Fairly chugged around third. Parker was standing a second with a two-run double that potentially had won the World Series. An absolute state of delirium took over Dodger Stadium. John Roseboro was intentionally passed, and John Kennedy beat an 0-1 pitch off the plate. Etchebarren fielded cleanly and threw Kennedy out at first. Baltimore had three outs remaining, and the Dodgers had a two-run advantage, 5-3.
Regan was in control. Powell flied out to center. Davey Johnson grounded out to Lefebvre. The typically reserved Los Angeles crowd got louder with every pitch. The din diminished a little when Blair singled over third, and the Orioles’ hottest hitter, Andy Etchebarren, stepped up to bat. Regan’s first pitch missed low. His next pitch caught the inside corner. Regan went outside with the next pitch, and Etchebarren hit a grounder to the left of second base. Wills fielded, held his hand up to wave off Lefebvre, and beat Blair to the bag. Wills leaped in the air as high as his aching legs would take him. The Dodger dugout emptied as each player congratulated each other. The Dodgers are World Series champions! In the clubhouse, the champagne flowed and the emotions of the last few weeks poured out all over the clubhouse floor. The Dodgers could finally celebrate, though for some, there was a long flight tomorrow on which to nurse their hangover.
10/13/1966, BAL66-LAD66, Dodger Stadium 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E LOB DP 1966 Baltimore 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 6 0 5 0 1966 Los Angeles 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 x 5 11 1 6 1 Baltimore AB R H BI AVG Los Angeles AB R H BI AVG Aparicio ss 4 1 0 1 .258 Wills ss 3 0 0 0 .125 Blefary lf 4 0 1 0 .240 Davis,W cf 4 2 2 1 .269 Fisher p 0 0 0 0 .000 Johnson rf 4 1 1 0 .286 Robinson,F rf 2 1 1 1 .308 Davis,T lf 3 0 2 0 .545 Robinson,B 3b 4 0 0 0 .143 Fairly ph 1 1 1 1 .333 Powell 1b 3 0 0 0 .280 Lefebvre 2b 4 0 0 0 .095 Johnson,D 2b 3 0 0 0 .160 Parker 1b 4 0 1 2 .261 Blair cf 4 0 2 0 .222 Roseboro c 3 0 0 0 .200 Etchebarren c 4 1 1 0 .333 Kennedy 3b 4 1 2 1 .278 McNally p 1 0 0 0 .200 Koufax p 3 0 2 0 .286 Bowens ph 1 0 0 0 .000 Regan p 0 0 0 0 .000 Drabowsky p 0 0 0 0 .000 33 5 11 5 Johnson,B ph 0 0 0 0 .000 Snyder ph 1 0 1 0 .200 31 3 6 2 Baltimore INN H R ER BB K PCH STR ERA McNally 5.0 6 1 1 0 5 62 44 1.56 Drabowsky 2.0 1 1 1 0 0 25 15 1.29 Fisher BS 1, L 0-1 1.0 4 3 3 1 1 18 13 6.75 8.0 11 5 5 1 6 105 72 Los Angeles INN H R ER BB K PCH STR ERA Koufax 7.0 3 2 2 3 5 89 54 3.00 Regan BS 1, W 2-0 2.0 3 1 0 1 0 32 19 1.29 9.0 6 3 2 4 5 121 73 BAL: Bowens batted for McNally in the 6th Johnson,B batted for Drabowsky in the 8th Snyder batted for Johnson,B in the 8th Snyder moved to lf in the 8th LAD: Fairly batted for Davis,T in the 8th Johnson moved to lf in the 9th Fairly moved to rf in the 9th E-Davis,T. 2B-Parker, Koufax. HR-Robinson,F(2), Davis,W(1), Kennedy(1). CS-Blefary. K-Aparicio, Powell, Johnson,D, Etchebarren 2, Davis,W 2, Lefebvre, Roseboro 2, Kennedy. BB-Robinson,F 2, Powell, Johnson,D, Roseboro. SH-Wills. GWRBI: Parker Temperature: 66, Sky: partly cloudy, Wind: left to right at 2 MPH.