1978 World Series
From BR Bullpen
It wasn't easy for these two teams to repeat as their respective league's champions, both scrambling back to the Fall Classic thanks to late-season pushes. The New York Yankees were as far back as 14 games behind the Boston Red Sox at mid-July suffering from injuries to pitchers Catfish Hunter and Jim Beattie. A public display of antipathy between manager Billy Martin and slugger Reggie Jackson resulted in the replacement of Martin by the amenable, easygoing Bob Lemon on July 17th. With time running out, the Yankees, four games behind the Red Sox in the American League East, began a crucial four-game series in Boston. On September 7th, the Yanks began the "Boston Massacre" with a 15–3 drubbing of the Sox with second baseman Willie Randolph driving in five runs. The assault continued with the Yankees winning the second game, 13-2, the third, 7-0 (Ron Guidry winning his 21st – a two-hitter) and the fourth, an 18-hit, 7-4 victory completing the sweep. The Yankees and Red Sox were now tied for first place with twenty games remaining for both clubs. Overall, New York would win 48 of their last 68 games finishing the regular season in a dead heat with Boston. The Yanks went on to win a one-game playoff (5-4) on October 2nd made famous by light-hitting Bucky Dent's clutch three-run homer in the 7th inning (his fifth of the year). Ron Guidry won his 25th game (against only 3 losses); Goose Gossage pitched the last 2 and 2/3rds innings, picking up his 27th save, retiring future Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski with a man on base for the final out.
In the National League the Los Angeles Dodgers were locked in a tight three-way race with the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds falling as far as 6 ½ games back. Taking a lesson from the in-fighting Yankees, this normally close-knit group caught fire after a clubhouse fight between teammates Steve Garvey and Don Sutton in August, ultimately finishing 2 ½ games ahead of the Reds. Unlike the 1977 Dodgers with four 30+ home run hitters, this squad's leader in home runs was Reggie Smith with 29. No pitcher won 20 or more games but five pitchers did win in double figures. Rookie Bob Welch was a key after being promoted from the minors; he won 9 games while being utilized as both a starter and reliever.
In a repeat of the 1977 playoffs the New York Yankees again dispatched the Kansas City Royals, this time three games to one, in the ALCS, and the Los Angeles Dodgers did the same to the Philadelphia Phillies by the same margin. After losing the first two games of the World Series, the Yankees would become the first team ever to come back to win the Series in six.
This was the "bad luck" World Series year for the Dodgers. After convincing wins in Games 1 and 2, the Dodgers dropped the next four, though hardly indicative of their effort and reflective more the Yankees lucky breaks. Game 3 was the combination of overpowering pitching by Ron Guidry coupled with the phenomenal play of Graig Nettles. Game 4 included the infamous baserunning interference by Reggie Jackson (denied to the Dodgers). The Dodgers were flat in a Game 5 loss. In Game 6, Don Sutton pitched well, but the game got out of hand with the surprising hitting of Brian Doyle and Bucky Dent. Davey Lopes and Ron Cey had a great series, but Reggie Smith and Steve Garvey seemed to vanish when they were most needed offensively.
- Ed Vargo (NL), Bill Haller (AL), John Kibler (NL), Marty Springstead (AL), Frank Pulli (NL), Joe Brinkman (AL)
|Game||Score||Date||Location||Attendance||Time of Game|
|1||Yankees – 5, Dodgers – 11||October 10||Dodger Stadium||55,997||2:48|
|2||Yankees – 3, Dodgers – 4||October 11||Dodger Stadium||55,982||2:37|
|3||Dodgers – 1, Yankees – 5||October 13||Yankee Stadium||56,447||2:27|
|4||Dodgers – 3, Yankees – 4 (10 inns)||October 14||Yankee Stadium||56,445||3:17|
|5||Dodgers – 2, Yankees – 12||October 15||Yankee Stadium||56,448||2:56|
|6||Yankees – 7, Dodgers – 2||October 17||Dodger Stadium||55,985||2:34|
 Game 1
The Dodgers jumped on Yankee pitching for 3 home runs and 15 hits as they cruised to an easy 11-5 win to open the series.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - New York Yankees 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 2 0 5 9 1 Los Angeles Dodgers 0 3 0 3 1 0 3 1 X 11 15 2 PITCHERS: NYY - Figueroa, Clay (2), Lindblad (5), Tidrow (7) LAD - John, Forster (8) WP - John LP - Figueroa SAVE - none HOME RUNS: NYY - Jackson LAD - Baker, Lopes (2) ATTENDANCE: 55,997
 Game 2
Perhaps the most memorable game of the series, as Ron Cey's 3-run homer in the 6th inning gave L.A. a 4-2 lead. The Yankees got a run in the 7th, and then with two men on and two out in the top of the 9th, Dodger rookie Bob Welch struck out Reggie Jackson (after Jackson had fouled off several pitches) to end the game.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - New York Yankees 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 11 0 Los Angeles Dodgers 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 X 4 7 0 PITCHERS: NYY - Hunter, Gossage (7) LAD - Hooton, Forster (7), Welch (9) WP - Hooton LP - Hunter SAVE - Welch HOME RUNS: NYY - none LAD - Cey ATTENDANCE: 55,982
 Game 3
Yankee ace Ron Guidry was hit hard by the Dodgers and walked seven batters, but numerous great plays and diving stops by Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles saved at least four runs as the Yankees got back in the series. Don Sutton pitched well into the 7th, then several tough luck hits by the Yankees put the game out of reach.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Los Angeles Dodgers 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 0 New York Yankees 1 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 X 5 10 1 PITCHERS: LAD - Sutton, Rautzhan (7), Hough (8) NYY - Guidry WP - Guidry LP - Sutton SAVE - none HOME RUNS: LAD - none NYY - White ATTENDANCE: 56,447
 Game 4
The most controversial game of the series. Reggie Smith's home run gave the Dodgers the lead in the 5th, but some bad judgement and a bad call turned the series in the Yankees favor in the 6th. With Roy White at first and one out, Thurman Munson walked and Reggie Jackson followed with a run-scoring base hit. Lou Piniella came up next and knocked a sinking liner toward Bill Russell. As the Dodgers shortstop went to play the ball it glanced off of his glove and fell to the ground. Munson, who had hesitated, moved back toward second thinking initially that the ball had been caught, but Russell, instead of tagging Munson (who was on second and turning toward third) and stepping on second to force Jackson and complete an unassisted, inning-ending, momentum-killing double play, stepped on second and threw to first to complete the double play. Realizing Russell's mental mistake, seeing Munson on his way to third and sensing the opportunity, Jackson, who was already caught in no-man's land, stopped about 20 feet between first base and second, stuck his hip out slightly, deflecting the ball into right field, allowing Munson to score the Yanks' second run. The Dodgers argued (to no avail) that Jackson had intentionally interfered and should have been ruled out. The Yankees tied the game in the 8th and ultimately won in it in the 10th. The series was tied but the Dodgers' backs were broken as they would be blown out in the next two games.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - - Los Angeles Dodgers 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 6 1 New York Yankees 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 4 9 0 PITCHERS: LAD - John, Forster (8), Welch (8) NYY - Figueroa, Tidrow (6), Gossage (9) WP - Gossage LP - Welch SAVE - none HOME RUNS: LAD - Smith NYY - none ATTENDANCE: 56,445
 Game 5
The Dodgers were understandably "flat" after the disappointing umpiring in Game 4 which cost them the game. The Yankees "singled" Dodgers pitching unrelentingly.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - Los Angeles Dodgers 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 3 New York Yankees 0 0 4 3 0 0 4 1 X 12 18 0 PITCHERS: LAD - Hooton, Rautzhan (3), Hough (4) NYY - Beattie WP - Beattie LP - Hooton SAVE - none HOME RUNS: LAD - none NYY - none ATTENDANCE: 56,448
 Game 6
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E - - - - - - - - - - - - New York Yankees 0 3 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 7 11 0 Los Angeles Dodgers 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 1 PITCHERS: NYY - Hunter, Gossage (8) LAD - Sutton, Welch (6), Rau (8) WP - Hunter LP - Sutton SAVE - none HOME RUNS: NYY - Jackson LAD - Lopes ATTENDANCE: 55,985
 Composite Box
|New York Yankees||1||4||6||3||0||4||13||4||0||1||36||68||2|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||2||3||3||4||4||3||3||1||0||0||23||52||7|
|Total Attendance: 335,304 Average Attendance: 55,884|
|Winning Player’s Share: – $31,236, Losing Player’s Share – $25,483 * Includes Playoffs and World Series|
- 1978 was the first of ten consecutive years that saw ten different teams win the World Series, a string unprecedented in Major League Baseball history. The Los Angeles Dodgers would break the string with a World Series win in 1988.
World Series Winner Opponent 1987 Minnesota Twins (AL) St. Louis Cardinals (NL) 1986 New York Mets (NL) Boston Red Sox (AL) 1985 Kansas City Royals (AL) St. Louis Cardinals (NL) 1984 Detroit Tigers (AL) San Diego Padres (NL) 1983 Baltimore Orioles (AL) Philadelphia Phillies (NL) 1982 St. Louis Cardinals (NL) Milwaukee Brewers (AL) 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers (NL) New York Yankees (AL) 1980 Philadelphia Phillies (NL) Kansas City Royals (AL) 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates (NL) Baltimore Orioles (AL) 1978 New York Yankees (AL) Los Angeles Dodgers (NL)
- This Series became most well-known for a controversial play in which Reggie Jackson broke up a double play by using his hip to deflect the ball heading to first base, allowing Thurman Munson to score from second base on the error.
- The Yankees became the last repeat World Champions until fifteen years later (1992-1993 Toronto Blue Jays).
- The Yankees won the last four games of the series after losing the first two. Coincidentally, the Dodgers would do that against them three years later in the 1981 World Series.
- This would be the last time the New York Yankees would win a World Series until 1996, the longest drought for the franchise to date.
- This Series had two memorable confrontations between Dodger rookie pitcher Bob Welch and the Yankees' Reggie Jackson. In Game 2, Welch struck Jackson out in the top of the 9th with two outs and the tying and winning runs on base to end the game. Jackson would get his revenge in Game 6 by smashing a two-run homer off Welch in the 7th to increase the Yankees' lead from 5-2 to 7-2 and put a final "exclamation point" on the Yankees' victory.
- During the series the Dodgers wore black armbands in dedication to coach Jim Gilliam who died from a brain hemorrhage two days before the start of the Series. His uniform number 19 was also retired by the Dodgers two days after his death.
- David S. Neft and Richard M. Cohen: The World Series, 1st ed., St Martins Press, New York, NY, 1990, pp. 371-376.
- 1978 World Series at WorldSeries.com (MLB.com)
- 1978 AL East Playoff at MLB.com
- 1978 World Series at Baseball-Almanac.com
- The Yankee D Boys did Double Duty at SI.com
- 1978 World Series box scores and play-by-play at Retrosheet.org
- History of the World Series - 1978 at SportingNews.com
- The Sporting News' Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: Over the Green Monster at SportingNews.com
- The 1978 New York Yankees at baseballlibrary.com
- The 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers at baseballlibrary.com
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series