The National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers had rebounded from a late-season collapse in 1962 and went on to win the National League pennant with a six game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The biggest factor in the team’s comeback was an all-star pitching combination featuring a young lefty named Sandy Koufax and a right-hander named Don Drysdale. Koufax had struck out a staggering three-hundred six batters in three-hundred eleven innings and his counterpart had won nineteen games with a 2.63 ERA. Veteran Johnny Podres had added fourteen wins of his own (five of them shutouts) and ace reliever Ron Perranoski made sixty-nine appearances while going 16-3 with a 1.67 ERA. Their opponents, to no surprise, were their long-time rivals the New York Yankees, who in classic “Bomber style”, boasted four sluggers with twenty or more home runs and an equally qualified pitching rotation. Whitey Ford had twenty-four victories and Jim Bouton, Ralph Terry and Al Downing prospered as well winning the American League pennant by 10½ games. It was the seventh meeting in the Fall Classic between the two ball clubs with the American Leaguers leading the marathon 6-1.
Koufax went against Ford in the opener and quickly set the pace by striking out his first five batters including Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Before the Yankees had a single hit off the rising left-hander, his team was up 4-0. Former Yankee Bill Skowron (who had been obtained after the ’62 Series) singled home a Dodger run in the top of the second and John Roseboro cracked a three run homer later that inning. He added another run in the third and Koufax continued to dominate at the mound. After four innings, the Yankees were still waiting for their first base runner and things would not get much better. After sitting down Mantle, the Dodger ace forced Maris to foul out, but allowed the “Pinstripes” to load the bases on consecutive singles by Elston Howard, Joe Pepitone and Clete Boyer. The threat quickly disappeared though as Hector Lopez (batting for Ford) became the eleventh K victim. After striking out pinch-hitter Phil Linz in the eighth, Koufax had moved one K within Carl Erskine’s single Series game strikeout record of fourteen. The record would have to wait though as a late-inning homer by Tresh stalled the impending celebration, but it was only a matter of time. The first three of New York’s final four outs in Koufax’s 5-2 triumph came on a grounder, a liner and a fly ball. The last out of the game was record-breaking strikeout No. 15, with pinch-hitter Harry Bright submitting the score.
Podres attempted to keep Los Angele’s momentum alive in Game 2 and combined with two out relief from Perranoski to beat the Yankees, 4-1. Willie Davis set the pace at the plate with a two run double in the first and was followed by Skowron’s homer in the fourth. Adding to the Yankees frustration was the Series-ending injury to outfielder Roger Maris who was hurt running into a rail in pursuit of a Tommy Davis triple. With a two-games-to-none lead, the Dodgers returned to their newly christened west coast palace known as Dodger Stadium. Don Drysdale made the homecoming even sweeter with a three hit, 1-0 victory that ended with nine more strikeouts for the Yankees. Bouton had completed the outing while holding his own, but surrendered the critical game-winning run in the first on Jim Gilliam’s walk, a wild pitch and a single by Tommy Davis, who had just captured his second straight National League batting championship.
In a classic rematch of the Series opener, Ford and Koufax went at it again as one pitcher tried to complete a sweep and the other attempted to keep his team alive. Both adversaries held each other scoreless until the fifth inning when the Dodger’s Frank Howard launched a rocket homer to left. Mantle evened the score with a blast of his own in the seventh after going a miserable one for thirteen in Series at bats. Maury Wills, known primarily for his speed (one-hundred four steals in ’62) regained the lead for the Dodgers in the bottom of the inning and from there on it was all Los Angeles. First, Gilliam led off the eighth with a high-bouncer that resulted in a critical Yankees infield error between Pepitone and Boyer who had missed to connect on the throw. Then, Willie Davis came in with a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored his leadoff man. Finally, Koufax stayed in to finish the job and went on for the six hit, eight K, 2-1 triumph that not only swept the Yankees, but also ended their latest consecutive Series winning streak at two.