What could have been. This proposed cover for the 1962 World Series Souvenir Program still makes me sad.
The last day of the 1962 season was my saddest day as a Dodger fan. I was listening to the game on a Sears Silvertone transistor radio in my backyard. The Dodgers were four games ahead with just eight games to go and Dodger fans were eagerly anticipating another trip to the World Series. However, the team was exhausted and by the end of the regular season, they were tied with the hated Giants, forcing a three game playoff.
The Dodgers lost the first game 8 – 0 with Sandy Koufax on the mound. Koufax said he "had nothing at all" in describing his Game 1 performance. The boys in blue came back to tie the series with an 8 – 7 win. The 165th game of the season would be the decisive game. With umpires Dusty Boggess, Augie Donatelli, Jocko Conlan, and Al Barlick presiding, the Dodgers were ahead 4 – 2 with the Giants coming up in the top of the ninth inning. I was giddy with the anticipation of my Dodgers going to the Series again just three years after they won the championship in 1959.
Matty Alou pinch hit for the 1956 World Series hero, Don Larsen, and singled to lead off the inning. Harvey Kuenn grounded into a force out at second base. Willie McCovey pinch hit for Chuck Hiller and walked to advance Kuenn. Ernie Bowman pinch ran for McCovey and Felipe Alou walked to load the bases. Willie Mays hit a line drive single scoring Kuenn. Dodger pitcher Ed Roebuck barely managed to knock the ball down to hold Mays to a single and Mays said he was "still mad" after the game because he had expected more off of the hit. Stan Williams relieved Roebuck and Orlando Cepeda hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4–4 and advance Alou to third. Mays moved to second on a wild pitch to Ed Bailey and Williams intentionally walked him to reload the bases. Williams walked Jim Davenport to give the Giants a 5–4 lead, and they added to it as José Pagán reached on an error allowing Mays to score and extend the lead to 6–4. Billy Pierce pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to end the game, earning his only save of the season.
I was devastated. How could that have happened? A repeat of the 1951 season. The horror… The horror.
This series against the Yankees could very well be a preview of the 2013 World Series. The Dodgers have a nice lead and with "The Beard" on our side coming off his Tommy John surgery, the bullpen possibly just got a little better. Or not.