The 1978 World Series turned out to be an unexpected repeat of the previous year’s battle between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. During the 1977 six-game series the two teams traded shifting momentum.
LA actually outscored New York by two more total runs, but the Yankees took the series 4-2. This year Los Angeles started out in the friendly surroundings at Chavez Ravine, the home of Dodger Stadium.
The Friendly Confines
Los Angeles faithful started the 1978 World Series with a great deal of enthusiasm. That enthusiasm ballooned after the first two games at Dodger Stadium. LA built a seven run lead after six innings. They matched a three run Yankee top of the 7th with their own three run bottom half.
The Dodger bullpen gave up a couple runs in the 8th, but LA coasted to an 11-5 victory in game one. The Yankees felt they still had a good chance of a split in California, as they sent their staff ace Catfish Hunter to the hill in game two. However, LA right-hander Burt Hooton matched the New York star pitch for pitch.
Down only a run in the bottom of the 6th, Dodger third baseman Ron Cey smacked a three run homer off Hunter giving Los Angeles a 4-2 lead they would hold onto, securing a sweep of the first two games at Dodger Stadium. Dodger momentum was building steam heading back east to Yankee Stadium.
Back to the Bronx
Fittingly, the Dodgers were enthusiastic about their two game lead in the 1978 World Series. However, when the Pinstripes took the field for game 3, the Yankees two had reason to be optimistic. Because of the way the regular season ended, the year’s best pitcher wasn’t available until the third game of the series.
Ron Guidry did not disappoint. Although he scattered eight base hits and an uncharacteristic seven walks, only one Dodger crossed the plate. Guidry finished with a complete game and the Yanks cut the LA lead in half with a 5 – 1 win game three.
In the fourth game, first game starter Ed Figueroa redeemed himself. He was matching Dodger starter Bob Welch pitch for pitch until the 5th inning. Reggie Smith launched a dramatic three run homer to push the LA into the lead.
New York would chisel away at the Dodger lead, albeit with one the more controversial plays in World Series history. Reggie Jackson appeared to interfere with what would have been an inning out at first base. However, the ball deflected off Jackson and a second run scored cutting the LA lead to one.
Thurman Munson would double home a run in the eighth tying the game. The controversial play in the sixth seemed to plague the Dodgers. New York plated a walk-off run in the bottom of the 10th inning to pull even at two games apiece.
See my next blog for what comes after the Dodgers/Yankees tied up their series and who became the 1978 World Series Champion.