DODGERS GREAT JOHNNY PODRES DIES

Img_5095Johnny Podres signs autographs at the Two River Theater in August.

We thought some baseball-loving redbankgreen readers might like to see this photo of Johnny Podres, the great Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who died yesterday in Queensbury, N.Y. He was 75 years old.

The photo was taken at the Two River Theater’s baseball memorabilia exhibition last August.

Here’s an excerpt from his obit in today’s New York Times:

Podres was hardly a star on a team with Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider in the lineup and Don Newcombe and Carl Erskine on the pitching staff. He had been injured twice during the ’55 season and he had a modest record of 9-10 for a team that won the National League pennant by 13 ½ games.

But at 3:43 p.m. on Oct. 4, 1955, Podres proved the man of the hour for Dodgers fans, whose unrealized quest for a World Series championship had been embodied in the refrain “Wait til next year.”

… In a duel of left-handers, Podres was matched against Tommy Byrne in Game 7 at the Stadium. The Dodgers had a 2-0 lead, both runs driven in by Hodges, but in the sixth inning the Yankees had runners on first and second with nobody out when Yogi Berra hit a fly ball toward the left-field line that seemed about to drop for a double. Sandy Amoros, who had just come into the game, replacing Jim Gilliam in left field, saved the day for Brooklyn. After a long run, he reached out for a one-handed catch, then made a relay to Reese, the shortstop, who threw to Hodges, doubling Gil McDougald off first base.

Podres had been effective with his changeup early in the game. As the autumn shadows began to approach home plate, making it tougher for batters to see the pitches, he turned to his fastball. He stopped the Yankees the rest of the way, completing an eight-hitter by retiring them in order in the ninth inning. When Elston Howard grounded to Reese for the final out, Podres was mobbed, and Brooklyn erupted in ecstasy.

“There was a hell of a party that night at the Hotel Bossert in Brooklyn,” Podres told Donald Honig in “The October Heroes.” As Podres recalled it: “Boy, the champagne! There was one guy there who kept telling me he’d been waiting for this since 1916.”

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