1961 Los Angeles Dodgers
1961 Los Angeles Dodgers / Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers / BR Team Page
Managed by Walter Alston
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1961 Los Angeles Dodgers had a good season, winning 89 games and finishing in second place in the National League. They ended up four games behind the surprise pennant-winner, the Cincinnati Reds, who did a total turn-around from the 1960 edition of the team. The Dodgers, too, were an improvement, winning more games in 1961 than they had since 1956.
The Dodgers played quite well in April, May, June and July, playing at least .550 ball in each of those months with a terrific 19-7 month in July. But they slumped in August, going 11-15, and the last day they were in first place was August 15th. The Reds played .667 ball in September to put it away.
Oddly, the pythagorean for the Dodgers was only 81 victories. That might have indicated that the team would stumble in 1962, but the opposite thing happened, with the 1962 Dodgers winning many more games than the 1961 team.
The 1961 Dodgers team was full of players who didn't get 500 at-bats. Johnny Roseboro had the most home runs with 18, although he had only 394 at-bats. Wally Moon had 17 home runs in 463 at-bats. Frank Howard had 15 home runs in 267 at-bats. Duke Snider had 16 home runs in only 233 at-bats. Tommy Davis had 15 home runs in 460 at-bats. Other players who were in double figures in home runs included Charlie Neal, Ron Fairly and Willie Davis, none of whom had as many as 350 at-bats.
Moon was the batting star, with a .328 batting average (fourth in the league) and a .434 on-base percentage (first in the league). Fairly also had a .434 on-base percentage, but with too few plate appearances to qualify for the league title.
Maury Wills, in a harbinger of things to come, stole 35 bases (first in the league) and scored 105 runs.
The youngest position player was 21-year-old Willie Davis, who would go on to play 18 years in the majors.
Among the pitchers, both Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres won 18 games, while Stan Williams won 15 and Don Drysdale won 13. Podres had the league's best winning percentage while Koufax led the league in strikeouts.
Jim Gilliam, as usual, was a super sub, playing over 500 innings at second base and over 400 at third base, along with 63 innings in the outfield.
The oldest player on the team, by far, was 37-year-old Gil Hodges, who hit 8 home runs in 215 at-bats.
Manager Walter Alston was 49 years old in 1961, and in mid-career as a Dodgers manager. His .578 winning percentage that year was a bit better than his career .558 winning percentage.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Johnny Roseboro and Maury Wills
- NL Gold Glove: Johnny Roseboro (C) and Maury Wills
- Brian M. Endsley: Finding the Left Arm of God: Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers, 1960–1963, McFarland, Jefferson, NC. ISBN 978-0-7864-7415-8