The Most Valuable Player of the World Series! How is that for fulfilling the dreams of all of those summer afternoons of childhood as the ball was bounced off of the side of the garage or thrown into the air for another spectacular, if lonely, running catch? The World Series MVP award has been given since 1955, but unlike its regular-season counterpart, the World Series honor usually goes to a pitcher.
The first winner was Johnny Podres of Brooklyn, who authored the Game Seven shutout of the Yankees that brought the Dodgers their first world championship in 1955. The following year it was Don Larsen of the Yankees who took home the prize after he hurled the only perfect game in World Series history.
Lew Burdette was magnificent in the 1957 series as he won three games for Milwaukee while posting a microscopic 0.67 ERA. Bob Turley of the Yankees won it in 1958 with a mediocre performance by MVP standards as he went 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA.
Remember Larry Sherry? He was 2-0 for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959 with an ERA of 0.71 as he garnered the MVP trophy. In 1960 Bobby Richardson was the first non-pitcher to win as he drove in a dozen runs for the Yankees in a losing cause. Whitey Ford completely slammed the door on Cincinnati in 1961 as the Yankees ace went 2-0 with an ERA of the minimum -- 0.00!
Koufax wins it twice in three years.
In 1962 Ralph Terry of the Yankees won the MVP award but barely missed wearing the goat horns as Willie McCovey's line shot was snagged for the final out of Game Seven with two runners in scoring position. In 1963 and 1965 it was Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers who won the MVP prize while Bob Gibson sparkled in the 1964 series for the Cardinals.
In 1966 Frank Robinson played below his usual ultra-high standards with a .286 batting average and three RBI but somehow those numbers were good enough to win the MVP award. In 1967 Bob Gibson of the Cardinals was totally dominant against the spirited but overmatched Red Sox as he went 3-0 with an ERA of 1.00.
Mickey Lolich was the surprising pitching star of the 1968 Series as the Tigers clawed their way back to defeat the Cardinals in seven memorable games. It was a year of miracles in 1969 as the Mets won it all and Donn Clendenon was MVP with his .357 average and three homers.
Magician with the glove proves he can hit, too.
The 1970 MVP was Brooks Robinson. The defensive genius came through with the bat as well as he hit .429 with two round-trippers and six RBI. In 1971 it was the mighty Roberto Clemente of the Pirates who was voted numero uno as he hit .414 with two homers and four RBI.
Gene Tenace wasn't too well known until the 1972 Series, then the Oakland catcher caught fire with four home runs and nine RBI to easily cop the MVP award. In 1973 it was Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson, who was the Most Valuable as he led Oakland to another World Series win. Oakland won again in 1974, this time behind the mustached magnificence of relief pitcher Rollie Fingers.
Remember Pete Rose of Cincinnati flying through the air to beat the throw to third base in the ninth inning of Game Seven in 1975? He was safe by an eyelash and went on to win MVP honors. The Big Red Machine won it all in 1976 as well, with Johnny Bench hitting an amazing .533 to capture MVP accolades.
Mr. October was back in 1977, this time with the Yankees. Reggie hit .450 with five "taters" (that's what he calls home runs -- taters) and was awarded the World Series MVP award for the second time. In 1978 Bucky Dent took home the prize for the Yankees and everyone in Boston felt like taking at least four tranquilizers.
We are fam-uh-LEE! The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates were indeed family in 1979 as they won the championship of the world behind the slugging of the great Willie Stargell. In 1980 it was Mike Schmidt of the Phillies who took the MVP trophy with his .381 batting average, two homers and seven RBI.
Next time: The winners from 1981 to 2003.