The Dodgers’ Left-Handed Legacy
Since moving to LA in 1958 the Dodgers have relied on all things “left” to win five World Series: outstanding players, ballparks and managers to win those world championships. Since 1958 five MVPs and seven Cy Young winners were left handers. Based on analytics, historians list left handers Clayton Kershaw, Duke Snider, Willie Davis and Sandy Koufax as four of the top five greatest Dodgers.
During the “Coliseum Years,” the Dodgers played in a football stadium with a short left field fence, protected by a 40-foot screen. Wally Moon, a left-handed hitting left fielder, joined the Dodgers in 1959 and led them to a World Series title. He sliced balls, known as “Moon shots,” over the screen and played the screen like a fiddle. Left-handed pitcher Johnny Podres and left-handed hitting Duke Snider played key roles in the 1959 title.
When the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962, their dugout along the left field line and their bullpen was behind the left field fence. In 1962 and 1963, left fielder Tommy Davis won batting titles.
The Dodgers swept the Yankees in the 1963 World Series with left-handed starters Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres winning three of four games.
The 1965 World Series capped their greatest left-handed year. Three of their starting pitchers and seven everyday players pitched and hit left-handed.
Led by left-handed manager Tommy Lasorda, they won the World Series title in 1981 on the left arms of Fernando Valenzuela, Jerry Ruess and reliever Steve Howe. Left-handed hitting Rick Monday beat Montreal in the NLDS with a ninth inning home run.
Left-handed hitter Kirk Gibson hit the most famous home run in Dodger history to win game one of the 1988 World Series to lead the team to the title.
Left-handed manager Dave Roberts has the current Dodger team ready to win the World Series on the left-handed arms of Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Julio Urias and Alex Wood. His offense is built on the left-handed bats of Cody Bellinger, Kory Seager, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson.
Next week I’m going to introduce you to the greatest left-hander in Los Angeles history. Who do you think it is?
Lynn McGinnis