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Greatest moments in Dodger history, No. 21: Sandy Amorós’ catch in 1955 World Series

Screenshot of Sandy Amoros' Game 7 catch.
(Youtube)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the greatest moments countdown continues

In December, I asked you to send me your list of the 10 greatest moments in Dodgers history, and boy did you all respond, as I received 7,237 ballots.

The way it works: You listed your moments in order, and I assigned points, with first place getting 12 points, second place nine, third place eight, all the way down to one point for 10th. Add up the points and we get a top 25. We will be counting down the moments over the next few weeks, with No. 1 being revealed on or around opening day.

So without further ado, let’s continue the countdown.

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No. 21: Sandy Amorós’ catch in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series (3,902 points)

Sandy Amoros' amazing Game 7 catch
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Watch Sandy Amoros’ amazing Game 7 catch by clicking here.

The Dodgers’ franchise began in 1884 and, until 1955, had never won a World Series. It looked like 1955 was the year, as the Dodgers were leading Game 7 against the New York Yankees, 2-0. With that narrow lead, manager Walter Alston sent in Sandy Amorós to play left field in the bottom of the sixth because of his superior defense, sending Jim Gilliam from left to second base, with Don Zimmer leaving the game. That move saved the Dodgers’ title.

Billy Martin led off the inning with a walk, and Bobby Richardson reached on a bunt single, putting runners on first and second with none out and Yogi Berra coming to the plate. The Dodger outfield shifted to the right (Berra was a left-handed hitter). Berra didn’t do what he was supposed to though, and launched a shot toward the left-field corner. Amorós ran what seemed like half a mile and extended his glove at the last moment, making a miraculous catch. He skidded to a halt and threw to the relay man, Pee Wee Reese, who threw to first, doubling off Richardson.

If Amorós doesn’t make the catch, both runners score and it’s a tie. Instead, there were two out with a man on second. Hank Bauer grounded to short to end the inning.

Pitcher Johnny Podres escaped trouble the next two innings, and retired the Yankees in order in the seventh for a shutout and the first World Series title in Dodger history.

Amorós played for the Dodgers until he was traded to Detroit on May 7, 1960 for Gail Harris, who never played for the team.

Amorós returned to Cuba after the 1960 season. He returned to the U.S. virtually broke, but the Dodgers quietly put him on their roster for the few days he needed to qualify for his pension. He died of pneumonia in 1992 at the age of 62.

Sandy Amoros
(Los Angeles Dodgers)

For more on Amorós, check out Roberto González Echevarría‘s book “The Pride of Havana,” an outstanding book on Cuban baseball.

Up next: The Dodgers win a World Series title. But which year?

You might be able to attend the home opener

There’s a chance that a limited number of people will be able to attend Dodger games at the start of the season, with the stadium becoming more full as the season progresses and if coronavirus rates keep falling and if more people get vaccinated.

“We’re working on the final details,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. “We’ve been working very closely with Major League Baseball and others across the spectrum. We have confidence that when you look forward to April, to opening day, and where we are likely to be if we all do our jobs, if we don’t let our guard down and spike the ball — wrong sport — then I have all the confidence in the world that fans will be back safely, in a lot of these outdoor venues.”

Under current state guidelines, teams in counties in the orange tier can play to 20% of capacity. Teams in counties in the yellow tier, which indicates minimal spread of the virus, can play to 25% of capacity. L.A. County is not in either of those tiers, but is heading in that direction.

The Dodgers could sell 11,200 seats to Dodger Stadium at 20% capacity and 14,000 seats at 25% capacity.

Your first Dodgers memory

Since I still have a lot of these, “Your first Dodgers memory” returns this season. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks.

Tony Smith: As a kid in junior high in L.A. I loved baseball and followed the majors on the radio. In 1951 we bought our first television. A used Hoffman Easy Vision. My favorite team, just from the radio, happened to be the Brooklyn Dodgers. They were in the playoffs against the hated N.Y. Giants and playing at the old Polo Grounds in N.Y. You probably know where this story is headed. I took off from school faking a stomach ache. Home alone and I knew precisely what I was going to do. Went over to our new tv and for the first time I saw my beloved Dodgers. Bottom of the ninth, Dodgers about to beat the Giants and go to the World Series. Ralph Branca comes in. Bobby Thomson walks to the plate. Never heard of him. On my knees praying (seriously).

The rest is history except for the fact that I still have a hole in my heart that can never by filled by that awful decision to fake my illness to watch that game. Some things cannot be healed. I even have recurring dreams that the “shot heard round the world” would never have occurred had I not lied and gone to school that day. My wife says often “the world does not revolve around you” but I know deep down it was all my fault.

James Landon of Apache Junction, Ariz.: I was 15 when my Dad took me on a baseball trip to New York in the summer of 1952. Our stops included Cooperstown, Yankee Stadium and Ebbets Field (no Polo Grounds, since I hated the Giants). Ebbets Field was the highlight of the trip because the Dodgers were my favorite team. I’ll never forget that first site as we came out of the walkway. Here were all of my favorite players warming up in their sparkling clean white uniforms on the greenest grass I had ever seen. Funny, I can’t remember if the Dodgers won that day or even who they were playing.

Jeffrey Taylor: It was 1978 and I was 11. Mom had to get groceries on San Vicente in Brentwood, I waited in the car, listening to a late season game on the radio, Dodgers losing 4-3 to Giants, and trailing slightly in standings. Winning the division meant everything back then. Ninth inning, two out, Lee Lacy at bat for Dodgers, need a miracle. Lee hits it to right center, center fielder Larry Herndon and right fielder Jack Clark collide hard, knock each other out! Ball sits idle on the ground! Lee Lacy Inside the park home run to tie it up! Listening on the radio was such a perfect way to experience that crazy moment. It was an extended experience, taking a few more seconds to understand versus the immediacy of seeing it on TV.

I suppose I have vague memories of the previous season, Reggie Jackson home runs or something, but none where I can see myself and where I was, recalling the true feelings, knowing it’s a real memory and not some amalgamation of memory and subsequent retellings.

And finally

Don Drysdale appears on “The Brady Bunch.” Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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