There were some who went away disappointed. No starting pitcher was able to go all the way; the fielding, on occasion, was shoddy; the home run, at times, appeared to have become obsolete. It was a World Series without a Babe Ruth or a Pepper Martin or a Lew Burdette.
Actually, especially for those who were there, it was a good Series, an exciting one, full of new sights and sounds and names and faces. Chicago took the opener 11-0, then lost the next three by scores of 4-3, 3-1 and 5-4. In Game 5 Bob Shaw, Billy Pierce and Dick Donovan combined for a shutout, as the Sox staved off elimination 1-0. In Game 6, though, the Dodgers jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held on to win the game, and with it the Series, 9-3. The four middle games were close, and the first and last, lopsided as they were, had something different: in one, light-hitting Chicago bashed the ball all over the park; in the other, the Dodgers, a threat to explode at the plate for five days, finally did. The White Sox' formula for success, applying constant pressure on the other team until it cracked, didn't work against Los Angeles because the Dodgers had been living with pressure all year. In the end it was Chicago that opened up and began to leak at the seams.
Chicago likes to run, but only Jim Landis and Luis Aparicio have exceptional speed; it was not so surprising then that the Dodgers were better on the bases man for man, stealing, taking the extra base, advancing on foul pops and short flies, forcing the White Sox into hurried throws and errors afield. Los Angeles manager Walter Alston made better moves than his Chicago counterpart, Al Lopez, because the Dodgers had a far better bench. On the one hand there were Carl Furillo, Duke Snider, Chuck Essegian, Rip Repulski and Ron Fairly; on the other only Earl Torgeson, Billy Goodman, Jim McAnany and Norm Cash.
Nellie Fox means a lot to the White Sox, and he played well. But when compared with Charlie Neal, Fox has to come out second best. Neal has more speed, more range and vastly more power; he hit 41 home runs in two seasons, and he hit a couple of big ones in the Series itself.
Don Drysdale, Roger Craig and Johnny Podres were not as impressive as the White Sox' pitchers, but Early Wynn, Shaw and Donovan didn't have Larry Sherry to bail them out. The role of the relief pitcher becomes more important every year: with a good one you can win a pennant; with a great one, as Sherry seems destined to be, you can go even further than that.
It was a Series that left some indelible impressions: The magnificent catch by Landis on Jim Gilliam's line drive into right center in the third game. The perfect play by the Dodgers in the eighth inning of the second game, a play that went with the quickness of sound from Al Smith's bat to Comiskey Park's leftfield wall to Wally Moon's glove to Maury Wills to John Roseboro, who waited patiently at home plate for Sherm Lollar to arrive so that he might be tagged out.
There was Aparicio thrown out stealing and Aparicio thrown out trying to stretch his single into two bases. And, of course, there was Aparicio reaching frantically for the ball hit by Carl Furillo that hopped over his glove.
There was White Sox first baseman Ted Kluszewski standing motionless at home plate in the first game, watching his high fly ball drift toward the rightfield stands, waiting until it dropped in for a home run before he even bothered to run. Klu making a diving, backhand stab of a line drive just outside first base, falling and rolling and coming up with the ball. Klu and the truly great impression he left in the earth when he had to slide into second.
But most of all there was Larry Sherry, a minor leaguer at the start of this year, a hero at its end. There was Sherry, throwing his slider and fastball and curve past the White Sox' hitters time and time again.
It was a good World Series in 1959. But the World Series always is.