Meet the 1955 Dodgers

Meet the 1955 Dodgers

The 1955 Dodgers rode a tremendous starting nine and a deep starting rotation to the first World Championship in franchise history. takes a look back at the star-studded lineup that brought joy to Brooklyn that fall with a dramatic Game 7 win over the Yankees.

Catcher Roy Campanella: Hall of Famer Campanella turned in one of this four career 30-homer seasons in 1955. The backstop batted a torrid .318 with 32 homers and 107 RBIs in only 123 games, earning him league MVP honors for the third and final time in his career.

Campanella combined tremendous power with an excellent batting eye to strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers during his 10-year career. In 1955, he drew 56 walks while striking out only 41 times in 446 at-bats.

In the World Series, "Campy" started all seven games behind the plate and batted .259. He homered in Games 3 and 4, powering the Dodgers to a win in each contest.

First baseman Gil Hodges: An eight-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Hodges was coming off a 42-homer, 130-RBI season in 1954. In 1955, he batted .289 with 27 homers and reached 100 RBIs for the seventh and final time in his career.

A powerful right-handed hitter, Hodges spent the first 16 seasons of his career with the Dodgers and finished with 370 career home runs. As a manager, Hodges guided the 1969 Miracle Mets to 100 wins and a world championship.

In the World Series, Hodges batted .292 with five RBIs. He drove in both Dodgers runs in Game 7.

Second baseman Jim Gilliam: In the third season of his 14-year Dodger career, Gilliam batted .249, but drew 70 walks and knocked 35 extra-base hits and finished with 110 runs scored as the Dodgers' leadoff man, second-most on the team.

Gilliam, who finished his career with nearly 2,000 hits, was a hero in the 1965 World Series, turning in outstanding defensive play at third base as the Dodgers beat the Twins.

Against the Yankees in the '55 Fall Classic, Gilliam batted .292 and drew an astounding eight walks in only 32 plate appearances.

Third baseman Jackie Robinson: Eight years after breaking baseball's color barrier, Robinson was nearing the end of his career in 1955. Nevertheless, the Hall of Famer managed to bat .256 while drawing 61 walks against only 18 strikeouts in 317 at-bats.

Robinson finished his Major League career with a .311 batting average. A six-time All-Star, Robinson was the 1947 Rookie of the Year. He was voted National League MVP in 1949, batting .342 with 66 extra-base hits, 37 steals and 124 RBIs.

During the World Series, Robinson hit .182, but mixed in a double and a triple and scored five runs.

Shortstop Pee Wee Reese: The 5-foot-9 Reese led the team with 553 at-bats in 1955 at the age of 36. He batted .284, scored 99 runs, drove in 61 and turned 86 double plays in the field.

Reese played all 16 seasons of his career with the Dodgers, reaching double digits in homers six times and finishing with 2,170 hits and 10 All-Star berths. Reese was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

In the Fall Classic, Reese batted .296 and scored five runs. He had two hits apiece in Games 2 and 4 and scored the final run of the Series.

Left fielder Sandy Amoros: Amoros was a supporting player in 1955, batting .247 with 51 RBIs in a career-high 119 games. The left-hander tied for the team lead in outfield assists (10) and finished with more walks (55) than strikeouts (45), like many of his disciplined Dodger teammates.

In a seven-year career, Amoros batted .255, finishing with only 314 hits. But he will forever be remembered for making the most important catch in Dodgers history.

With two Yankees on base in the sixth inning of Game 7, Amoros was playing in left-center with pull hitter Yogi Berra at the plate. Berra sliced a drive down the left-field line, which Amoros raced back and stretched out for a sensational, one-handed catch. He then threw the ball in for a rally-killing double play, preserving the Dodgers' 2-0 lead.

Center fielder Duke Snider: One of the greatest hitters of his era, Snider had a monster year in 1955. He batted .309 with 42 homers and a career-high 136 runs, all while walking a career-high 108 times, leading the team in the category. The Sporting News named Snider its 1955 Player of the Year for his efforts.

An eight-time All-Star, Snider led the league in runs three times and also paced the circuit in extra-base hits for three consecutive years (1954-1956). Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980, Snider finished his career with a .295 average and 407 homers.

Snider was a beast in the World Series, battering Yankees pitchers for eight hits, hitting a .320 clip, including four home runs. His three-run homer in the fifth inning of Game 4 sealed a victory, and in Game 5, he went deep twice to make the difference in a 5-3 win.

Right fielder Carl Furillo: Often overshadowed by his Hall of Fame teammate, Furillo was a major cog in the 1955 Dodger lineup. He clubbed a career-best 26 homers and drove in 95 runs, finishing with a .314 average.

A Pennsylvania native nicknamed "The Reading Rifle" for his cannon arm, Furillo batted .291 in a 15-year career that saw him amass 1,910 hits. Furillo was the 1953 batting champion with a .344 average. He recorded 10 or more outfield assists in eight consecutive seasons, including a stunning 24 in 1951.

Against the Yankees, Furillo batted .296 with four runs and three RBIs. In Game 1, he was 3-for-4 with a home run.

Pitcher Don Newcombe: Newcombe was an impressive 20-5 in 1955, making his fourth and final All-Star team. He allowed only 38 walks, but nonetheless finished with a 3.20 ERA. What's more, Newk was a terror at the plate, batting .359 in 117 at-bats with nine doubles, seven homers and 23 RBIs as both a pitcher and a pinch-hitter.

Newcombe was even better the following year, when he won both the MVP and Cy Young awards in the NL after going 27-7 with a 3.06 ERA, both career-bests. He finished his 10-year career 149-90, with a 3.56 ERA.

Newcombe started Game 1 of the Series despite suffering from a sore arm. He allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings and would not pitch again in the Series.

Pitcher Carl Erskine: Erskine ranked second on the team with 11 wins in 1955, starting 29 games. A finesse pitcher, Erskine struck out only 84 men in 194 2/3 innings, but finished with a 3.79 ERA.

The slightly-built right-hander spent the entirety of his 12-year career with the Dodgers and ended with an excellent 122-78. In 1953, he was 20-6; the following year, he was 18-15 and made his only All-Star team.

Erskine started Game 4 but was pulled after yielding three runs in three-plus innings in his only Series appearance.

Pitcher Billy Loes: A native New Yorker, Loes was 10-4 in 1955 at the age of 25. His 3.59 ERA helped him to one of the five 10-win seasons he'd post in his career.

Loes split 11 years in the Majors between three teams, going 80-63 with a 3.89 lifetime ERA. His best year was 1957, when he earned his only All-Star berth and ended up 12-7 with a 3.24 ERA.

The right-hander took the loss in Game 2, yielding seven hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings. The Yankees scored all their runs in the fourth inning, with New York pitcher Tommy Byrne hitting a two-run single.

Pitcher Roger Craig: Craig's first Major League season went swimmingly, as the 6-foot-4 right-hander turned in a 5-3 record with two saves and a 2.78 ERA in spot duty.

Craig went on to spend 12 Major League seasons with five teams. He most famously went 10-24 for the expansion Mets in 1962, despite pitching fairly well. He finished his career with 74 wins and a 3.83 ERA.

With Newcombe and Erskine suffering from sore arms, Dodgers manager Walter Alston made a bold move in Game 5, starting Craig. The gamble paid off in a big way, as Craig allowed only two runs in six innings, earning the win.

Pitcher Clem Labine: Labine was one of the Dodgers' most versatile and valuable contributors in 1955, winning 13 games and saving 11 more while making 60 appearances, 52 in relief.

Labine was 77-56 in his career, with 96 saves and a 3.63 ERA. He made the All-Star squad in 1956 and '57 and received several votes for NL MVP following his yeoman season in '55.

Labine was particularly valuable in the World Series, as many of the Dodgers' starters faltered and the Dodgers needed to rally late to win. He pitched three innings for the save in Game 5 and earned the win in Game 4 as the Dodgers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win.

Pitcher Johnny Podres: Podres, at age 22, was 9-10 in 1955, posting a 3.95 ERA and starting only 24 games. The left-hander would go on to a 15-year career and a 148-116 lifetime record, as well as an impressive 3.68 ERA.

Podres, though, will be best remembered for his exploits as a previously-anonymous fill-in during the '55 Series. With his aces ailing and few other arms getting outs, Alston turned to Podres in Game 3 and received a complete-game, 8-3 win.

Faced with a tough decision for Game 7, Alston bypassed Newcombe and Erskine, putting the weight of the Dodgers' hopes entirely on Podres' shoulders. The smooth southpaw was nothing short of spectacular, scattering eight hits in nine shutout innings, earning the win that gave Brooklyn and the Dodgers their first world championship.

Mark Thoma is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.