John Joseph Podres
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 11", Weight 192 lb.
- High School Mineville High School
- Debut April 17, 1953
- Final Game June 21, 1969
- Born September 30, 1932 in Witherbee, NY USA
- Died January 13, 2008 in Glens Falls, NY USA
"Just give me one run." - Johnny Podres' statement before his start in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, which he won 2-0
Johnny Podres, whose career was overshadowed by greater pitchers, was a fine pitcher in his own right who was at the center of the action many times.
He broke in as a 20-year-old with the pennant-winning 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers, going 9-4 with them. The 1953 Dodger team was the winningest of the 1950's, with a 105-49 record. Roy Campanella won the MVP award that year, with Duke Snider also hitting over 40 home runs. Podres appeared in the 1953 World Series, losing a game.
From 1953 to 1960, Podres won between 9 and 14 games each year, except 1956 which he missed due to military service, usually with an ERA below the league average in spite of pitching from 1953 to 1957 in a hitter's park. His 1957 ERA of 2.66 led the league. He was often in the top 10 in the league in strikeouts. He appeared in the 1955 World Series won by the Dodgers, and he won both his games, including the decisive Game 7 when he pitched a shutout, earning the first World Series MVP Award ever awarded. He also won the game he pitched in the 1959 World Series, after the Dodgers had moved to Los Angeles and the team had changed many of its players.
1961 was a great year for Podres, as he went 18-5. He led the league in winning percentage. In 1963, he won 14 games as the Dodgers won the World Series. He won a game in the Series (his lifetime World Series record was 4-1, pitching primarily against the New York Yankees).
After pitching two years on competitive Detroit Tigers teams in 1966-1967, he spent his last year on the expansion San Diego Padres, in their 1969 inaugural season. Although his 5-6 record doesn't seem like much, it was one of the highest winning percentages on a team that lost 110 games.
In all, Podres won 148 games, with a winning percentage of .548. His ERA of 3.68 doesn't sound impressive, but much of that was earned in hitter's parks. He was an important part of four teams that won the World Series - in 1955, 1959, 1963, and 1965.
Immediately after Podres' death, Curt Schilling wrote:
"Outside of the Lord, my wife and my father, there was no person who impacted my life more than Johnny Podres. A true man's man if there ever was one....Johnny made me realize that being a man wasn’t about the macho cool stuff we think men are supposed to be, but rather compassion, care, commitment, loyalty, integrity and drive....MLB, the Dodgers and players everywhere lost a very good and kind man today."
- 3-time NL All-Star (1958, 1960 & 1962)
- 1955 World Series MVP
- NL ERA Leader (1957)
- NL Winning Percentage Leader (1961)
- NL Shutouts Leader (1957)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (1961 & 1962)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (1958, 1960 & 1962)
- Won four World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1955) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1959, 1963 and 1965; he did not play in the 1965 World Series).
- Johnny Podres (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, October 1973, pp. 62-64