The Los Angeles Dodgers 98-64 returned to the World Series after a three year absence led by Steve Garvey 33 HR/115 RBI/ .297 BA, Reggie Smith 32 HR/.307 BA, Ron Cey 30 HR/110 RBI and former Reds’ manager Dusty Baker 30 HR/ .291 BA.
Walt Alston retired and was replaced by Tommy Lasorda who had spent fourteen years as a minor league pitcher compiling a 136-104 record with marks of 18-6 in 1958 and 17-9 in 1954 for the Dodgers’ AAA Montreal club. But because there were only sixteen major league teams at that time and the Dodgers had one of the best pitching staffs in the majors, Lasorda never got the chance to be a major leaguer he might have gotten in later decades.
The Dodger pitching staff consisted of Tommy John 20-7, Don Sutton 14-8, Burt Hooton 12-7, Rick Rhoden 16-10, Doug Rau 14-8 and Charlie Hough in the bullpen with 22 saves.
The Yankees were managed by Billy Martin a former Yankee second baseman and WorldSeries hero and were led by catcher Thurman Munson 18 HR/ 100 RBI /.308 BA, Craig Nettles 37 HR/ 107 RBI, Reggie Jackson 32 HR/ 110 RBI, Mickey Rivers .326 BA and reserve Lou Piniella .330 BA who would later manage the Reds to a World Series title.
The Yankee pitching staff was anchored by Ron Guidry 16-7/ 2.82 ERA and featured Ed Figueroa 16-11, Mike Torrez 14-12, and former Red Don Gullett 14-4 who had appeared for the Reds in the previous year’s fall classic.
Their bullpen had as the closer Sparky Lyle 13-5/ 2.18 ERA/ 26 SV and Dick Tidrow 11-4.
In a rematch of the 1963 World Series game one was in historic Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Don Gullett started for New York and Don Sutton for Los Angeles. In a close game the teams battled to a 3-3 tie after nine innings with Willie Randolph’s home run off of Sutton being the only long ball of the game.
The teams went into the bottom of the 12th and Paul Blair singled in the winning run for a 4-3 win and the Yanks go up 1-0.
In game two the Dodgers responded with long ball against Catfish Hunter and Yankee relievers as Ron Cey, Steve Yeager, Reggie Smith and Steve Garvey homered to give the Dodgers a 6-1 victory behind Burt Hooton’s complete game.
The teams shifted to Los Angeles with the series tied one game each. Tommy John started against Mike Torrez and the Yankees got three quick runs off of John in the first inning. A three run home run by Dusty Baker tied it up in the third but Yankee runs in the fourth and fifth and a complete game by Torrez gave the Yankees a 5-3 win to go up in the series 2-1.
Still in Chavez Ravine in LA Ron Guidry pitched a complete game four hitter as the Yankees go up 3-1 with the help of a homerun by Reggie Jackson. Davey Lopes also had one for the Dodgers in the losing cause.
On the verge of elimination Don Sutton pitched a complete game for a Dodger victory with the big hit being a three run homer by Steve Yeager. Reggie Smith added a two run round tripper for a 10-4 Dodger win. Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson had solo blasts for the Yankees.
Game six in Yankee Stadium would go a long way towards establishing Reggie Jackson with the title “Mr. October.”
Mike Torrez started against Burt Hooten both winners of earlier games in the series. The Dodgers took an early lead behind a Reggie Smith home run but Yankee home runs by Chris Chambliss in the second and Reggie Jackson in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings proved to be too much for the Dodgers as the Yankees win the game 8-4 and their first World Series since 1962.
Jackson who along Don Gullett had been signed via free agency before the 1977 season, was only the second player to hit three home runs in a WorldSeries game as Babe Ruth had done it in 1926 and 1929.His five home runs in a World Series was a record that was later equaled by Chase Utley and George Springer.
Jackson got the series MVP and the Yankees and Dodgers would be back the following season in the fall classic.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate