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Greatest moments in Dodger history, No. 20: Winning the 1959 World Series

Walter Alston
Walter Alston at the 1959 World Series.

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. 20: Dodgers win the 1959 World Series (4,594 points)

Walter Alston at the 1959 World Series.
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Click here to watch highlights of the 1959 World Series.

The 1959 World Series matched the Dodgers, in just their second year in Los Angeles, against the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox routed the Dodgers, 11-0, in Game 1 and were leading, 2-1, with two out in the seventh inning of Game 2 when a little-known Dodger named Chuck Essegian, who had just 46 at-bats with the team, turned the Series around.

Walter Alston sent Essegian to the plate to bat for starting pitcher Johnny Podres. White Sox starter Bob Shaw ran the count to 3-and-1 when Essegian launched a curve ball halfway up the left-center stands at Comiskey Park, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead in a game they won, 4-3, to even the series.

Essegian hit another pinch-hit homer later in the series, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic. The Dodgers were leading, 8-3, in the ninth inning of Game 6 when Essegian, batting for Duke Snider, homered to left against Ray Moore.

Games 3, 4 and 5 were the first World Series games played on the West Coast and the games averaged more than 90,000 fans at the Coliseum. Game 5’s attendance of 92,706 is still a World Series record.

The Dodgers won the Series, 4-2, winning the title in only their second season in L.A. This was the opening of Times reporter Frank Finch‘s story on Oct. 8, 1959:

“Boyish-looking Larry Sherry, who began his baseball career as a second baseman for good ol’ Fairfax High, today earned a place in the front row of the majestic parade of pitching giants who hurled their way into World Series immortality.

“In his fourth appearance of the 56th series, the 24-year-old native Angeleno pitched 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball as the Dodgers crushed the Chicago White Sox, 9-3, to capture their second world championship.

“With homers by Duke Snider, Wally Moon and Chuck Essegian more than compensating for mighty Ted Kluszewski’s third round-tripper of the set, the Dodgers took the series, four games to two.

“A six-run spree in the fourth inning clinched the Dodgers’ most rewarding victory of all time.”

“You know, you kind of get labeled as a certain kind of player,” Essegian said not long after his career ended in 1963. “If you have success as a pinch-hitter, then you’re looked at as a pinch-hitter because you’re not good enough to play every day. It’s a hard tag to live down.”

In 404 major league games, Essegian batted .255 with 47 home runs and 150 runs batted in. His best season was with Cleveland in 1962, when he had 21 homers and 50 RBIs.

“For one reason or another, I just never played much in baseball,” Essegian said. “It just didn’t work out the way I’d hoped it would.”

Up next: Another World Series title for the Dodgers.

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.

Manuel Hernandez Jr. of Lakewood: My first Dodger memory is more related to visiting for the very first time Dodger Stadium back in July of 1980. I had just turned 6 and I’m not sure how but my dad got tickets to go see the All-Star batting practice the day before the All-Star game. I remember how the stadium looked huge. All the amazing mix of colors from the seats in combination with that sweet light blue that decorated the inside part of the stadium. The smell of grass and hot dogs, pretty much felt like a picnic for me. We were seated on the third-base side like 10 rows away from the dugout. The player I remember seeing was the blond headed Buddy Bell who at the time I believe played third base with the Texas Rangers. I remember there was a line drive way over his head that he threw his glove at it and it almost fell inside the web. It was just an unforgettable experience for me.

Mary Alice McLoughlin: My first real memory is being 8 years old: It’s 1967, I’m a die-hard bleed blue Dodger fan at a time when little girls weren’t supposed to be interested in baseball, and my big brother leads me down to the field level with my program and a pen clutched in my hand, and Wes Parker ambles over to give me an autograph. I was stunned into silence, and he was so nice, and so friendly, and I have been a fan of his ever since (if he’d played one more season he’d be in the Hall. Best fielding first baseman you ever saw).

Ken Nishimoto: My first Dodger memory was sitting in the back yard with my Dad listening to the Dodgers on the radio. Before every game they would sing a song. Does anyone remember it? It goes like this... It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame, a ballgame today. The fans are out to get a ticket or two, from Walla Walla Washington to Kalamazoo. It’s a beautiful day for a homerun, but even a triple’s okay! We’re gonna cheer and boo and raise a hullabaloo. at the ball game today! Then Vin Scully would say “It’s Time for Dodger Baseball!”

And finally

Wally Moon remembers the 1959 World Series. 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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