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.
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 ninth 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 seventh to increase the Yankees' lead from 5-2 to 7-2 and put a final "exclamation point" on the Yankees' victory.
During the World Series the Dodgers wore black armbands in dedication to coach Jim Gilliam, who died from a brain hemorrhage two (2) days before the start of the Series. His uniform number 19 was also retired by the Dodgers two days after his death.
|1||New York Yankees - 5, Los Angeles Dodgers - 11||October 10||Dodger Stadium||55,997|
|2||New York Yankees - 3, Los Angeles Dodgers - 4||October 11||Dodger Stadium||55,982|
|3||Los Angeles Dodgers - 1, New York Yankees - 5||October 13||Yankee Stadium||56,447|
|4||Los Angeles Dodgers - 3, New York Yankees - 4 (10 innings)||October 14||Yankee Stadium||56,445|
|5||Los Angeles Dodgers - 2, New York Yankees - 12||October 15||Yankee Stadium||56,448|
|6||New York Yankees - 7, Los Angeles Dodgers - 2||October 17||Dodger Stadium||55,985|
With Yankee ace Ron Guidry unavailable at least until Game 3, the Dodgers pounded 20-game winner Ed Figueroa. Figueroa left after 2 innings, allowing home runs to Dusty Baker and Davey Lopes. Lopes would add a three-run shot in the fourth off Ken Clay to make it 6-0. Another Dodger run crossed the plate in the fifth; Ron Cey scoring on a Clay wild pitch.
The Yankees tried to claw back in the seventh as Reggie Jackson homered and Bucky Dent singled in two runs, but the Dodgers bounced back with three of their own, two coming on a Bill North double. The Dodgers would cruise to an easy Game 1 win from there.
Ron Cey drove in all the Dodgers' runs with an RBI single in the fourth and a three-run homer in the sixth off Yankee starter Catfish Hunter. Reggie Jackson would try to keep pace by batting in all three of the Yankee runs with a 2-run double and RBI groundout, but this game would be remembered for one memorable Jackson at-bat.
Rookie Bob Welch was brought in to pitch the ninth to save the game for Burt Hooton. He allowed Bucky Dent and Willie Randolph to reach base between outs, bringing up Jackson. Welch ran the count to 3-2. Jackson fouled off several pitches before Welch finally got a fastball by him, sending the Dodger Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
In post-game interviews, Jackson initially blamed his striking out on Bucky Dent running from second with the 3-2 pitch and distracting him from focusing on Welch. In later interviews, however, Jackson would give Welch his proper due.
Guidry gutted out a complete game, even though he allowed eight hits, walked seven, and struck out only four. Nettles' defense saved at least four runs.
In the third, the Dodgers began to claw back against an apparently-tired Guidry. However, this third inning was when the Graig Nettles show began. With a runner on third, Davey Lopes lined hard to Nettles, saving a run. Bill Russell followed with a single to drive in the Dodgers only run. The next batter, Reggie Smith, hit a hard ground ball that Nettles speared and threw to second for a force play to end the inning.
In the fifth, the Dodgers had runners on first and second with two outs when Smith once again was victimized. Nettles made a diving stop of his liner down the third base line. Smith reached first, but no runs scored. The next batter hit into a force to Nettles to end the inning. The Dodgers loaded the bases again with two outs in the sixth, but Nettles made a great stop on a ball hit by Davey Lopes to again complete a force play.
With all the Dodgers' scoring opportunities squandered, the Yankees made them pay in the seventh with three runs. Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson had RBI singles in the rally that put the game out of reach.
Starters Ed Figueroa and Tommy John were locked in a scoreless duel before Reggie Smith struck with a three-run homer in the top of the fifth. John continued his shutout through the fifth, but, in the Yankees' half of the sixth, things got a little crazy.
Reggie Jackson finally got the Yankees on the board with a one-out RBI single. With Thurman Munson on second and Jackson on first, Lou Piniella hit a low, soft liner that shortstop Bill Russell fumbled (some claim intentionally). Russell recovered the ball and stepped on second to force Jackson, but his attempted throw to first to complete the double play struck a confused Jackson in the right hip and caromed into foul territory. Munson scored, partially because first baseman Steve Garvey stopped to yell at the first-base umpire over the non-interference call before retrieving the ball. The Dodgers' protests went for naught.
The Yankees tied it in the eighth when Munson doubled home Paul Blair. The score remained tied until the bottom of the tenth. Dodger rookie and Game 2 hero Bob Welch walked Roy White with one out. After Welch retired Munson, Jackson strode to the plate for his first confrontation with Welch since Game 2. This time, Reggie got the better end by singling White to second. Lou Piniella then lined a single to center, scoring White and tying the Series.
The Yankees took one step closer to a repeat World Series championship on the strength of an unexpected complete game victory by young Jim Beattie. Beattie scattered nine Dodger hits and was buoyed by an 18-hit Yankee performance, including a World Series-record 16 singles.
Early on, the Dodgers tried to run to take advantage of a sore-shouldered Thurman Munson behind the plate. Davey Lopes led the game off with a single, stole second, and scored on a Reggie Smith single. The Dodgers stretched their lead to 2-0 in the third when Lopes scored again on a double by Bill Russell.
But, that would be it as Beattie settled down. The Yankees countered with a four-run third on a two-run single by Munson and RBI singles by Roy White and Lou Piniella. They added three in the fourth, four in the seventh, and one in the eighth to complete the blowout. Munson was the star Yankee hitter with five RBIs, while White had three.
Davey Lopes gave the Dodger home crowd a ray of hope with a leadoff home run off Catfish Hunter. Dent and Doyle put the Yankees ahead in the second; Doyle with a two-run double, Dent with an RBI single. Lopes had an RBI single in the third to cut it to 3-2, but that would be it for the Dodgers.
Dent and Doyle pushed the score to 5-2 in the sixth with RBI singles and Reggie Jackson put the final nail in the coffin with a tremendous two-run blast in the seventh off his Game 2 nemesis, Bob Welch.
Dent would be named World Series MVP, batting .417 with 10 hits, 7 RBI, and 3 runs scored. Doyle would make a claim for the MVP himself with a .438 average, 7 hits, 2 RBI, and 4 runs.
While Lopes had a monster series with three homers and seven RBIs and Bill Russell had 11 hits, the Dodgers' power hitters and their lack of production was their downfall. Steve Garvey (5-for-24, no RBIs) was no factor, and neither were Dusty Baker (5 for 21, one RBI) or Ron Cey (no RBIs after Game 2).