April 11, 2021

How Often Did the 1960s Dodgers ‘Steal’ 1-0 Victories?

Definitely this image is based upon reality. Throughout the five-year duration from 1962-1965, Dodgers pitchers led the National League in ERA all 5 years, and Dodgers baserunners led the league in stolen bases for four straight years (and after that completed second the fifth year), however in total runs scored the Dodgers offense ranked 2nd, 6th, and then 8th three times (in a 10-team league).

At the beginning of 1962, the Los Angeles Dodgers were poised to become the premier team in baseballs National League, just as their forefathers in Brooklyn had actually remained in the years in between the end of The second world war and the teams relocate to California (1946-57). Having shed of the majority of the stars from their splendor days in Brooklyn, and ensconced themselves in Dodger Arena, a brand-new ballpark that preferred pitching over slugging, the Dodger teams of the early 1960s appeared ideally fit to their news environment.

Undoubtedly, over the next five years, led by the pitching duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale (who won four Cy Young Awards between them from 1962-65) and speedster Maury Wills (who caught 6 straight stolen base titles from 1960-65), the Dodgers recorded 3 National League pennants, missed a fourth title by a single game, and brought house two World Series champions.

This bare-bones description obscures that those Dodger teams boasted some really excellent pitchers other than Koufax and Drysdale (Johnny Podres, Claude Osteen, reducer Ron Perranoski, and future Hall of Famer Don Sutton), some bona fide heavy hitters sluggers (Frank Howard and Tommy Davis), and some fine fielders (catcher John Roseboro, first baseman Wes Parker, shortstop Maury Wills, and outfielders Wally Moon and Willie Davis all won Gold Glove Awards throughout their periods with the Dodgers).

With our tendency to decrease memories to basic, easily-remembered nuggets, those mid-1960s Dodgers teams are now typically recalled as the “Koufax-Drysdale-Wills” Dodgers, classification that shows the popular image of a weak-hitting team which thrived by scratching out runs with speed and guile while their 2 primary beginning pitchers shut down opposing players.

But ask a Dodgers fan from that period to describe the Los Angeles teams of the 1960s, and youre likely to get a reaction similar to the following:

Maury Wills would come up in the first inning, get on base with a walk, steal second, then someone d bunt him over to third, and he d score on a sacrifice fly– a run without a hit! On the other hand, Sandy or Big D would lock out the other group, and we d win 1-0.

Indeed, Wills himself explained similar situation in his 1991, On the Run:

But how often did this scenario play out in reality? The number of times did the Dodgers win games by relying on Maury Wills to somehow score a first-inning run even when the team couldnt develop a hit, and after that relying on their pitching staff to make it stand up?

… was our only.300 player. Were winning games 1-0 since Im getting on by a walk or an error or a fielders choice and Im taking the bases and scoring the runs.

We analyzed this concern by inspecting the results of all regular-season Los Angeles Dodgers games objected to throughout the five-year period from 1962 to 1966 (the duration in which Koufax, Drysdale, and Wills all played together in Dodger Stadium) and attempting to identify how numerous games met the following criteria:

The Dodgers lone run was scored without the advantage of a hit.

The Dodgers won by a rating of 1-0.

Following is a breakdown of all 1-0 Dodger triumphes from 1962 to 1966, with notations indicating how many of the five requirements each one met (considering that they were all 1-0 games, they clearly all fulfilled a minimum of the first requirement):.

The Dodgers only run was scored by Maury Wills.

The Dodgers only run was scored in the very first inning.

What we found was that the realities didnt rather match the legend. Not one Dodger success between 1962 and 1966 fulfilled all five of the requirements outlined above, and only one game met even four of the 5. Never in those five years did the Dodgers win a 1-0 game on a run scored by Maury Wills without the advantage of a hit. Only when in that timespan did the Dodgers win a 1-0 game in which their single run was produced without the advantage of a hit, and it did not include Maury Wills. And only when in those 5 years did Maury Wills established the only run in a 1-0 Dodgers success by stealing a base.

The Dodgers only run included several taken bases by Maury Wills.

18 June 1962: Sandy Koufax bested St. Louis Cardinals pitching ace Bob Gibson in a thriller, as Los Angeles won in the bottom of the ninth on a one-out, walk-off home run by Tommy Davis.

Requirements met: 1 (1-0 success).

12 September 1962: Ed Roebuck got a triumph over the growth Colt.45 s in Houston with 5-1/3 innings of nothing relief, as Frank Howard bombed a fifth-inning homer for the Dodgers only run.

Requirements satisfied: 1 (1-0 triumph).

17 April 1963: Bob Miller blanked Chicago for nine innings at Dodger Stadium but left the field without a triumph, as Cub southpaw Dick Ellsworth did the same to the Dodgers. Ellsworth wound up the loser, though, as the Dodgers pressed throughout a run with two out in the tenth inning on consecutive singles by Lee Walls, Frank Howard, and Moose Skowron for a walk-off success.

Criteria fulfilled: 1 (1-0 triumph).

16 May 1963: More last-minute heroics: Johnny Podres shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates for nine innings but didnt emerge as the winner till the Dodgers scratched out a walk-off run with two out in the bottom of the ninth on a single by Jim Gilliam, a sacrifice bunt by Ron Fairly, a groundout by Tommy Davis, and a run-scoring single by Johnny Roseboro.

Requirements fulfilled: 1 (1-0 triumph).

19 May 1963: The Dodgers tallied their second 1-0 victory in 4 days as Sandy Koufax two-hit the unlucky New York Mets in the very first video game of a Dodger Stadium double-header. The Dodgers scored their only run with one out in the very first inning as Jim Gilliam strolled, took third on Ron Fairlys single, and scored on Tommy Davis sacrifice fly.

Requirements met: 2 (1-0 triumph, first-inning run).

2 July 1963: Los Angeles topped St. Louis at Dodger Stadium for the very first time in over a year as Don Drysdale outpitched lefty Curt Simmons. The Dodger run came in the seventh inning as slugger Frank Howard blooped a single in front of the backed-up Cardinal outfield, took second on a groundout by Moose Skowron, and lumbered house as Ron Fairly dribbled a single up the middle.

Criteria satisfied: 1 (1-0 success).

5 July 1963: For the 2nd time in 1963, the Dodgers won two 1-0 squeakers in a four-day span as Johnny Podres pitched a two-hit gem against the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium. Frank Howard supplied the margin of triumph with a seventh-inning homer.

Requirements satisfied: 1 (1-0 success).

10 July 1963:.

Requirements met: 1 (1-0 triumph).

Johnny Podres triumphed in his 2nd straight 1-0 triumph, scattering 4 hits against the Mets at the Polo Grounds. Once again the margin of success was a solo home run, this one a sixth-inning shot by Johnny Roseboro.

25 September 1963: With Los Angeles having actually clinched the National League pennant with six games to go in the routine season, manager Walter Alston rested a few of his regulars for the upcoming World Series versus the Yankees, pulling Sandy Koufax after the Dodger ace pitched 5 innings of shutout ball versus the Mets at Dodger Stadium in his final start of the routine season. Bob Miller and Ron Perranoski blanked New York over the final 4 innings, sending hard-luck Met hurler (and former Dodger) Roger Craig to his fifth 1-0 defeat of the season. The lone Dodger run can be found in the first inning when Wally Moon and Tommy Davis singled with 2 out, and after that Moon ran around to score from second as a wild pickoff throw by Craig sailed past first base.

Criteria met: 2 (1-0 victory, first-inning run).

26 April 1964: One of the closest matches we found to our target circumstance was this early-season 1964 video game in which Phil Ortega blanked the Braves in Milwaukee on 4 hits for his first complete-game triumph in the majors. The Dodgers scored a single first-inning run in what the Los Angeles Times referred to as “normal Dodger style”: Maury Wills led off the video game with a single, Jim Gilliam walked, Wally Moon moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt, and Wills came house on a sacrifice fly by Frank Howard.

Requirements satisfied: 3 (1-0 victory, first-inning run, run scored by Wills).

22 July 1964: The day after Don Drysdale lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Houston on a 8th inning solo homer, Sandy Koufax won his 11th straight game as he inspected the Colt.45 s on 4 hits at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers lone run was available in the third inning on doubles by Derrell Griffith and Ron Fairly.

Criteria met: 1 (1-0 success).

23 August 1964: Phil Ortega claimed his 2nd 1-0 victory of the 1964 season when he hurled a three-hit nothing versus the Cincinnati Reds in Los Angeles. The Dodgers scored on a second-inning double by Nate Oliver and a single by Dick Tracewski.

Requirements met: 1 (1-0 triumph).

11 August 1965: The Dodgers went almost a year between 1-0 wins from August 1964 to August 1965, finally racking up another one as Don Drysdale blanked the Mets at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers scored the games only run in the seventh inning on songs by Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam, followed by a passed ball credited New York catcher Chris Cannizzaro.

Criteria fulfilled: 2 (1-0 victory, run scored by Wills).

14 August 1965: After a nearly year-long drought, the Dodgers squeezed out two 1-0 success in the area of 4 days as Sandy Koufax and Pittsburgh Pirate hurler Don Cardwell both threw goose eggs at their opponents for nine innings. For Cardwell, Koufax retired the Bucs without incident in the top of the 10th, but after the Pirate pitcher got two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, he strolled Sandy Koufax and Wes Parker, and right fielder Roberto Clemente then dropped Jim Gilliams line drive for an error as Koufax came around to score the winning run.

Requirements: 1 (1-0 success).

9 September 1965: In what may be the essential Dodgers video game of the 1960s, Chicago Cub pitcher Bob Hendley threw a complete video game one-hitter against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium … and lost, due to the fact that he had the misfortune to pitch his gem on the exact same night that Sandy Koufax famously tossed a best game (his record-setting 4th no-hitter).

To add insult to injury, the lone Dodger hit had nothing to do with the scoring– outfielder “Sweet” Lou Johnson drew the only walk off of Hendley in the 5th inning, was sacrificed to 2nd base by Ron Fairly, took third, and ran house as Cub catcher Chris Krugs throw cruised into left field. The just struck by either team was a bloop double by Johnson in the seventh inning.

Requirements satisfied: 2 (1-0 success, run scored without hit).

18 September 1965: Sandy Koufax acquired his third straight 1-0 triumph of 1965 by blanking the Cardinals in St. Louis on 4 hits. The Dodgers handled only 3 hits themselves, but they pushed across a run in the 6th inning when Don LeJohn gave and strolled method to pinch-runner John Kennedy, who took second on Koufaxs bunt and 3rd on Maury Wills ground-out, then scored as Wes Parker lined a single to center.

Criteria satisfied: 1 (1-0 success).

26 September 1965: The Dodgers pulled into a first-place tie with the San Francisco Giants with 7 video games to enter the 1965 season as Don Drysdale pitched Los Angeles to their ninth straight triumph, a 1-0 blanking of the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. This was the game that came closest to matching our original scenario, with Big D making a first-inning run following a Maury Wills stolen base stand.

The video games only score was a somewhat farcical one: Wills reached securely on a bunt single and was then picked off first base by St. Louis pitcher Ray Sadecki, however sadly for Sadecki, very first baseman Bill Whites toss sailed over second base and into the outfield, allowing Wills to make it all the method around to third, whence he scored as Jim Gilliam lined a single to best field. Wills was credited with a steal of 2nd base on Whites errant throw, however, so just the lack of a hitless run kept this one from being a five-criteria entry.

Criteria satisfied: 4 (1-0 victory, first-inning run, run scored by Wills, run set up by a Wills taken base).

1 June 1966: The Dodgers very first 1-0 win of 1966 came at the start of June, as Sandy Koufax blanked the Cardinals in St. Louis. The Dodgers scored their run in the seventh inning when Willie Davis raced and tripled home as Cardinal outfielder Bobby Tolan threw the ball back to the infield terribly and was charged with a run-scoring error.

Criteria fulfilled: 1 (1-0 success).

5 July 1966: Sandy Koufax quit ten hits, but he still handled to finest Cincinnati flamethrower Jim Maloney by locking out the Reds at Dodger Stadium for his 15th win of the season. The Dodger run was available in the second inning on a walk to Jim Lefebvre, a single by Johnny Roseboro, and another single by John Kennedy.

Criteria satisfied: 1 (1-0 success).

6 July 1966: Claude Osteen not only pitched the Dodgers to a 2nd straight 1-0 success over Cincinnati; he drove in the video games only run himself. After John Kennedy led off the bottom of the 8th inning with a double, Osteen failed in 2 attempts to bunt Kennedy over to 3rd and after that swung away and singled to ideal field to drive in the winning run.

Criteria fulfilled: 1 (1-0 victory).

10 September 1966: The Dodgers pulled within a half-game of the San Francisco Giants in a tight pennant race as they broke through for a kept up 2 out in the bottom of the tenth inning to beat the Houston Astros, 1-0. Los Angeles assembled the only run of the video game on Maury Wills single, Jim Gilliams sacrifice bunt, Willie Davis ground-out, and Al Ferraras walk-off pinch single.

Requirements fulfilled: 2 (1-0 success, run scored by Wills).

11 September 1966: The Dodgers pulled into top place for great in the 1966 pennant race by sweeping a double-header from Houston, finishing a string of four straight nothing wins over the Astros. After Sandy Koufax blanked Houston in the opener by a 4-0 rating, Joe Moeller, Bob Miller, and Phil Regan combined to lock out the Astros by a 1-0 score in the 2nd game. John Roseboros pinch-hit single drove in Ron Fairly with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Were winning games 1-0 because Im getting on by a mistake or a walk or a fielders choice and Im stealing the bases and scoring the runs.

Requirements satisfied: 1 (1-0 triumph).

Never in those five years did the Dodgers win a 1-0 game on a run scored by Maury Wills without the benefit of a hit. Only as soon as in that timespan did the Dodgers win a 1-0 video game in which their single run was produced without the benefit of a hit, and it did not involve Maury Wills. And just once in those 5 years did Maury Wills set up the only run in a 1-0 Dodgers success by stealing a base.

The lone Dodger run came in the very first inning when Wally Moon and Tommy Davis singled with 2 out, and then Moon ran around to score from 2nd as a wild pickoff throw by Craig cruised past very first base.

Regardless of the outcomes of this little exercise, our fondness for the terrific Los Angeles Dodgers groups of the 1960s remains undiminished. In the end, all that matters is that those Dodgers teams did win, and not whether they did so in precisely the fashion that popular image now ascribes to them.