On This Date in Sports October 6, 1941: Birth of a Rivalry

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The New York Yankees are once again World Series Champions in baseball, beating the Brooklyn Dodgers in five games. The Yankees win the clinching game 3-1 at Ebbets Field. Though the series was lost for the Dodgers in Game 4, when Mickey Owen was unable to corral the final strike of the game, allowing the Yankees to spark a four-run ninth-inning rally to win 7-4 and take a 3-1 series lead. This was the first meeting between the Yankees and Dodgers in the Fall Classic. They would meet six more times in the next 15 years and have faced off 11 times total in the World Series, more than any other two teams. 


The New York Yankees closed the 1930s with four straight World Series championships. They were the first team to three-peat and four-peat in any of the major professional sports. The Yankees fell short in 1940 but returned to the Fall Classic in 1941, posting a record of 101-53 as Joe DiMaggio won the American League MVP with his 56-game hitting streak. The Brooklyn Dodgers were making their first World Series appearance in 21 years, with the spirited Leo Durocher leading the way. Dolph Camilli won the National League MVP, leading the league with 34 home runs and 120 RBI. 

The Yankees won the opening game of the World Series 3-2 at Yankee Stadium. Red Ruffing made the start for New York, while Curt Davis started for Brooklyn. The Yankees got a second-inning home run by Joe Gordon, who added an RBI single in the sixth, while Bill Dickey had a run-scoring double in the fourth. The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning of Game 2. However, the Dodgers rallied to win 3-2 to even the series as Whit Wyatt earned the win. The Dodgers scored two runs in the fifth on RBI hits from Pee Wee Reese and Mickey Owen, while Dolph Camili knocked home the winning run in the sixth. 

Game 3 in Brooklyn was a classic pitchers' duel as neither Marius Russo nor Freddie Fitzsimmons allowed a run over seven innings. Hugh Casey relieved Fitzsimmons in the eighth inning, as the Yankees got on the board with hits by Joe DiMaggio and Charlie Keller. Reese drove in a run in the eighth, but the Dodgers did not get the tying run, losing 2-1. 


Game 4 would deliver the drama of the series. The Yankees jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning with Johnny Sturm driving home two runs with a single. The Dodgers began to crawl back in the bottom of the inning as Johnny Wasdell had a two-run, two-out double against Atley Donald. Pete Reiser gave Brooklyn a 4-3 lead with a two-run homer in the fifth. A lead that the Dodgers appeared to have squared away in the ninth as Hugh Casey had the Yankees tied in a knot. Casey had allowed one hit in four innings as Tommy Henrich came to the plate with two outs and the bases empty. Heinrich struck out, but the ball ticked off the catcher Mickey Owens glove allowing him to reach first base. This sparked a stunning four-run rally with Charlie Keller and Joe Gordon, each delivering two-run doubles to give the Yankees a 7-4 win. 

Tiny Bohmam opposed Whit Wyatt in Game 5, as the Yankees looked to secure their ninth World Series Championship. Charlie Keller scored the game's first run in the second inning on a Wild Pitch, while Joe Gordon drove in a second run. Wyatt helped his own cause with a double in the third, scoring on a sac-fly by Pete Reiser. Tommy Henrich had a home run in the fifth inning as the Yankees behind Boham won 3-1 to finish off the Dodgers.