1966 Los Angeles Dodgers
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1966 Los Angeles Dodgers / Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers / BR Team Page
Won NL Pennant
Managed by Walter Alston
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers were led by phenomenal performances from pitchers Sandy Koufax (27-9) and Phil Regan (14-1 with 21 saves). The hitters are remembered as weak, but that doesn't factor in that they played in a strong pitchers' park in the middle of the second deadball era. Their team batting average, in spite of playing in a pitchers' park, was fifth in the National League.
That season featured a three-team race for the pennant, with the Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates all involved until the very end. None of the three was dominant, prompting Dodgers manager Walter Alston to remark at the end of August: "It doesn't look as though anyone wants to win it." The Pirates took the early lead but then played uninspired baseball during the last two months of the season to finish third, although they were not eliminated until being swept at home by the Giants in a doubleheader on October 1st.
That double win put the Giants in a position to force a three-game playoff with the Dodgers, if Los Angeles got swept in a doubleheader on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies and then lost a make-up game to the Cincinnati Reds which would be tacked on the end of the schedule if the pennant race was still undecided after the doubleheader. The Phillies had actually been the hottest team in the league down the stretch heading into the October 2nd twinbill. Taking no chances, Alston started Don Drysdale, who had had a less-than-stellar season, in the opener, and kept Koufax in reserve for the second game if things went badly. And things went badly indeed; Drysdale was in poor form and was chased in the 3rd inning, with reliever Ron Perranoski taking over. The Dodgers managed to tie the game, but the Phillies scored a couple of runs in the 8th off Bob Miller and Regan to make the final score 4-3 in their favor. Chris Short, who had won his 19th game with a complete game win over the Dodgers on September 30th before rain wreaked havoc with the schedule, entered the game in relief and recorded his 20th win. In the second game, both managers sent their aces to the mound, Koufax for Los Angeles and Jim Bunning for Philadelphia. The Dodgers took an early 4-0 lead and were leading 6-0 entering the 9th when the Phils rallied for three runs; they had the tying run in the on-deck circle with nobody out when Koufax reached back and got the last three outs in order to clinch the pennant and make the make-up game against the Reds unnecessary. However, as a result of that long outing, he would not be available to start Game 1 of the World Series.
Ron Fairly was the Dodgers' unsung hitting hero, leading the regulars in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, although he had only 351 at-bats. Tommy Davis hit .313 in 100 games, but without much power. Jim Lefebvre and Lou Johnson led the team with 24 and 17 home runs respectively.
After squeaking through to win the pennant, the Dodgers were swept in four games by the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series, as their weak offense set a number of records for futility. Koufax retired following the World Series due to chronic arm problems, ending an era of excellence that had started back with the team's first Los Angeles pennant in 1959.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Sandy Koufax, Jim Lefebvre, Phil Regan and Maury Wills
- Cy Young Award: Sandy Koufax
- NL Reliever of the Year Award: Phil Regan
- NL Comeback Player of the Year: Phil Regan
- NL Gold Glove: Johnny Roseboro (C)
|Game||Score||Date||Location||Attendance||Time of Game|
|1||Orioles – 5, Dodgers – 2||October 5||Dodger Stadium||55,941||2:56|
|2||Orioles – 6, Dodgers – 0||October 6||Dodger Stadium||55,947||2:26|
|3||Dodgers – 0, Orioles – 1||October 8||Memorial Stadium||54,445||1:55|
|4||Dodgers – 0, Orioles – 1||October 9||Memorial Stadium||54,458||1:45|
- Tom Adelman: Black and Blue: The Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the 1966 World Series that Stunned America, Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY, 2006.
- Brian M. Endsley: Koufax Throws a Curve: The Los Angeles Dodgers at the End of an Era, 1964–1966, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2018. ISBN 978-1-4766-6942-7
- David E. Skelton: "A Season-Ending Doubleheader and its Impact on the 1966 World Series", The Baseball Research Journal, Vol. 43, number 2, Fall 2014, pp. 63-68.