1977 World Series

New York Yankees 4, Los Angeles Dodgers 2

The 1977 World Series was the ninth matchup between the New York Yankees, who were eager to avenge their 1976 World Series loss, against the power-hitting Los Angeles Dodgers, who became the first team ever to have four players with thirty or more home runs in a season. Still only in his fourth year as Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner, continued where he left off the previous season amidst a personnel overhaul. Steinbrenner was determined to return his storied franchise to the glory days of old. In November 1976, "The Boss" signed free agent Reggie Jackson, who had helped the Oakland Athletics win three straight World Series in Oakland (1972-1974), to one of the most lucrative deals in baseball to that point. Steinbrenner added a number of other free agents including shortstop Bucky Dent and pitcher Mike Torrez and under the expert management of the fiery Billy Martin, the Yankees returned to form and the World Series in 1976, but were swept by the Cincinnati Reds. With the new personnel in place, the Yankees battled the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox for the American League East crown. There was significant in fighting in the Yankees clubhouse with the clashing of egos, most notably Jackson, Martin and Steinbrenner’s. Though Jackson and Martin endured a love-hate relationship throughout the season, they led New York to a 100-62 record, won 38 of their final 50 games to edge out the BoSox and the O’s and then beat the Kansas City Royals three-games-to-two in the ALCS. The National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers were a different story as first year manager Tommy Lasorda led a tight ship and players acted like professionals. They led the NL in home runs (191), mostly from the bats of Steve Garvey (33), Ron Cey (30), Dusty Baker (30) and Reggie Smith. However, they also had five starting pitchers with 12 or more wins including 20-game winner Tommy John and future Hall of famer Don Sutton, who went 14-8. The Dodgers easily took the National League West by ten games over the Cincinnati Reds before topping the Philadelphia Phillies three-games-to-one in the NLCS.

The Yanks and the Boys in Blue swapped wins in the first two games with New York taking Game 1 by a score of 4-3 and LA taking Game 2 with a 6-1 victory. An abandoned elementary school near Yankees Stadium caught fire shortly before the game and news reports cut to the blaze from time-to-time inspiring legendary announcer Howard Cosell’s famous line "There it is ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning." (This inspired the 2007 ESPN mini-series of the same name.) Yankees gamble on Mike Torrez paid off in Game 3, with a complete game and nine shutouts, effectively outdueling Dodgers ace Tommy John for the 5-3 win. Reggie Jackson hit his first home run of the Series in Game 4, while Ron Guidry cruised to a 4-2 victory, striking out seven Dodgers in the process. In Game 5, Yankees captain Thurman Munson and Jackson again went deep, but New York was no match for pitcher Don Sutton and the onslaught of offense put up by the Dodgers as they pounded the Yankees 10-4, with home runs from Yeager and Smith. The Yankees and Dodgers battled hard for the first five games but New York now had a commanding three-games-to-two lead heading into Game 6.

Dodgers’ first baseman Steve Garvey got the scoring off when he connected on a two-run triple in the first. Reggie walked his first time up and Chris Chambliss drove him in with a two-run shot in the second inning. The Dodgers once again went ahead in the third on a solo shot by outfielder Reggie Smith. In the 4th inning, with Thurman Munson on first, Reggie blasted Burt Hooten’s first pitch over the right field wall to give the Yankees the 4-3 lead. In the fifth inning, Reggie stepped to the plate with the Yankees now leading 5-3, and walloped Elias Sosa’s first pitch for his second dinger over the right field wall, once more scoring Willie Randolph to make the score 7-3. Dodger pitchers held the powerful Yankees to two singles in the sixth and seventh and Jackson led off the eighth inning. As the big right fielder walked to the plate, chants of "REG-GIE, REG-GIE, REG-GIE" rained down at a deafening pitch and he did not disappoint. On the first pitch thrown by Dodgers knuckleballer Charlie Hough, Reggie connected and deposited the ball into deep center field to tie Babe Ruth as the only player to ever hit three home runs in a single World Series game. (Babe Ruth did it twice.) The New York Yankees and Reggie Jackson made all sorts of news throughout the 1977 season, but nothing more significant than during Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. Mr. October was born this day! Going back to Game 5, Reggie hit four consecutive home runs on four straight swings. (Jackson did not swing the bat in his second inning, four-pitch walk.) The feat has since been matched twice more by San Francisco Giant Pablo Sandoval in 2010 and St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols in 2011. Reggie easily won the World Series MVP award after batting .450 with five home runs and eight RBI, going 10-for-20.