Today’s Postseason Series From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is the 1965 World Series. Two contrasting styles defined this matchup. The Dodgers won the National League for the third time since their move to Los Angeles and were defined by their pitching, riding the arms of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Podres, and Claude Osteen. The Dodgers were eighth in the league in runs scored but led the league with only 521 runs allowed. Offensively they were led by Willie Davis, Maury Wills, Jim Gilliam, and Ron Fairly. On the morning of September 17 they were 4 ½ games behind the hated Giants but won 14 of their last 15 games to overtake the Giants by two games.
The Twins on the other hand were a team built on offense. They led the league in runs scored and fourth in runs allowed. The Twins had won their first pennant in Minneapolis and their first one at all since 1933 (a team that featured Hall of Famers Heinie Manush, Goose Goslin, Joe Cronin, and Sam Rice). The Twins rode the bats of Don Mincher (.509 slugging), Tony Oliva (141 OPS+), Bob Allison (.445 slugging), Jimmie Hall (124 OPS+), Harmon Killebrew (25 homeruns in only 113 games), and Zoilo Versalles (7.2 bWAR, easily one of the biggest fluke seasons of all time). On the pitching side, they did have Jim Kaat, Jim Perry, and Mudcat Grant, so they weren’t exactly hurting for pitching. The Twins took a half game lead over the White Sox on May 30 and all but briefly ran away, winning the league by seven games.
This series is famous because of Koufax’s decision to sit out Game 1 to honor Yom Kippur. Drysdale started the game but didn’t last long. After the two teams traded homeruns in the second, Drysdale took the hill with the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third. After a double and an error Versalles homered and the Twins later loaded the bases and chased Drysdale with back-to-back singles to make the score 7-1 after three. The Twins added a run later and took the first game 8-2. Game 2 also went the Twins way 5-1, as Kaat outdueled Koufax and the Dodgers’ fielding woes continued. The Dodgers took Game 3 4-0 on the strength of Osteen’s complete game. In Game 4 Drysdale gave up two solo homeruns but the Dodgers got two of their own and pulled away on Ron Fairly’s two-run single in the sixth, Los Angeles 7, Minnesota 2. In Game 5 Koufax dominated, striking out 10 and only allowing two runners to reach second as the Dodgers won 7-0. In Game 6 the Twins roughed up Osteen and reliever Howie Reed while Mudcat Grant pitched a complete game and even homered to help his own cause in a 5-1 Twins win. That led to the gutsy call by Walter Alston.
Alston was undecided as to whether to start Don Drysdale or Sandy Koufax. Ultimately he decided to go with Koufax, figuring this would be better for moving the Twins lineup around (his idea being the lefty Koufax, the righty Drysdale, and if necessary left handed relief ace Ron Perranoski), but this also meant that Koufax would be going on only two days rest. It was ballsy, but Koufax made Alston look like a genius. Despite not being able to get his famous curve ball over for strikes Koufax just threw fastballs. He had a couple of tight spots but again struck out 10 as the Dodgers got to Kaat in the fourth for a couple of runs. The final score was 2-0. The fun fact about this game is that this was the last series where every winning team featured a complete game by the starting pitcher. It was also the first time it had happened since 1940.