Last Updated: January 21st, 2024 by Jake Cain
The 1959 World Series marked an iconic moment in baseball history as it was hosted at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a testament to the meteoric rise in popularity of the Los Angeles Dodgers after their move from Brooklyn. The Coliseum was chosen for its massive seating capacity to accommodate the burgeoning fan base in Los Angeles; the venue famously set attendance records that still stand, including the highest attendance for a single World Series game.
This championship series saw the Dodgers triumph over the Chicago White Sox, securing their first World Series title on the West Coast. The series was significant not only for its unique venue but also for showcasing a diverse Dodgers team, including players like Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, and their remarkable journey from a seventh-place finish just the year before to World Series champions.
The 1959 World Series remains a poignant chapter in the annals of baseball, reflecting an era of expansion and change within the sport.
The Significance of the 1959 World Series
The 1959 World Series marked a pivotal moment in baseball history, hosting unprecedented crowds at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and presenting unique gameplay challenges. It showcased the National League‘s Los Angeles Dodgers against the American League‘s Chicago White Sox, capturing the attention of both longtime fans and Hollywood elites.
First West Coast World Series
When the Dodgers transitioned from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, they brought Major League Baseball to the West Coast, culminating in the 1959 World Series. This event was the first World Series played in Los Angeles, making it a historic occasion and symbolizing the national expansion of the sport. The Coliseum’s massive seating capacity exceeded 90,000, allowing record-breaking attendance that has remained unmatched in World Series history.
Battle Between Dodgers and White Sox
The Series pitted the Dodgers, playing their second season on the West Coast, against a resilient White Sox team. The Dodgers, leveraging their familiarity with the quirky outfield dimensions of the Coliseum, overcame the White Sox in a six-game series, earning their first World Series championship since relocating. The victory also signified a shift in the baseball landscape, establishing Los Angeles as a new stronghold for the National League.
Impact on Baseball History
This World Series not only highlighted the adaptability of players to unconventional conditions but also underscored the changing geography of Major League Baseball. It underscored the business and cultural impact of the sport’s migration to new markets.
The Dodgers’ triumph at the Coliseum served as a testament to their successful westward move, laying the groundwork for future expansions within Major League Baseball and foreshadowing the rise of franchises outside the traditional Northeastern strongholds.
Key Players and Memorable Moments
This section delves into the standout athletes and unforgettable plays of the 1959 World Series, shining a spotlight on influential figures and history-making performances.
Larry Sherry emerged as a pivotal player, claiming the World Series MVP with his exceptional pitching that guided the Dodgers to victory. Gil Hodges and Chuck Essegian both delivered crucial home runs, with Hodges hitting .391 throughout the series and Essegian tying a World Series record with two pinch-hit homers.
The 1959 World Series was marked by record attendance at the Los Angeles Coliseum, with Game 5 attracting 92,706 spectators, a number unrivaled even today. Ted Kluszewski stood out with two home runs in Game 1, propelling the White Sox to a commanding victory in the series opener.
Emerging Baseball Stars
Sandy Koufax, though experiencing a tough Game 5, would later become known as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball, a fact hinted at by his talent evident even in these early years. Maury Wills showcased his future potential as a base-stealing legend despite limited play, and Don Drysdale also contributed strong pitching, hinting at the formidable career ahead of him.
The Coliseum as a Baseball Venue
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum became an unconventional home for the Dodgers after their move from Brooklyn, setting the stage for a series of legendary baseball moments. With its vast seating exceeding 90,000, the Coliseum was both a baseball oddity and a record-breaker.
Adapting the Coliseum for Baseball
The Coliseum’s transformation into a baseball park required imaginative solutions, like a towering screen in left field to counteract the short 250-foot distance. Field adjustments led to a park with distinctive asymmetries—left fielders faced a mere 250 feet down the line, while right field stretched to a cavernous 440 feet.
This unique configuration created a challenging environment for players, where pitchers contended with the potential for a surge in home runs and outfielders battled against difficult visibility due to high seat tiers and the dazzle of the crowd.
The venue’s colossal size led to attendance numbers unmatched by any other baseball stadium, with the Coliseum holding firm to the World Series record for a single game with over 92,000 fans in attendance.
Beyond the confines of regular-season play, the Coliseum played host to the All-Star Game and set the stage for monumental events like the benefit game for Roy Campanella, which drew in 93,103 spectators, and an exhibition game in 2008 with an astounding attendance of 115,300.