The Indians right fielder Dave Pope is seen here leaping for the Giants pinch-hitter Dusty Rhodes home run in game one of the 1954 World Series. Rhodes three-run blast off the Indians ace Bob Lemon in the 10th inning gave the Giants a stunning first game win over the heavily favored Cleveland squad, who came into the series with an impressive 111-43 win-loss record. The 111 regular season wins was an AL record at the time.
The Indians had jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Vic Wertz triple scoring Al Smith and Bobby Avila. But the Giants would tie the game up at 2-2 in the third inning and both teams would hold court until Rhodes heroics in the extra innings that gave New York a 5-2 victory. The Giants would build off the win and pull off an unlikely sweep to win their first World Series title since 1933.
The Giants would not win another World Series until 2010, over 50 years after they moved to California. This World Series title would be the only one in the Giants manager Leo Durocher’s illustrious 24-year career.
The Indians not only came into the 1954 World Series with a historical win-loss record, but they denied the New York Yankees a chance to win their sixth straight World Series, who despite a very impressive 103-51 record but still fell eight games behind the Indians. Not only that, but the Yankees during their five straight championships never cracked the 100 win-mark once, in 1954 they finally do and with room to spare and it wasn’t enough. Go figure!
-Ron A. Bolton