October 14, 1965
World Series Game Seven
Series Tied, 3-3
Dodgers: Maury Wills (SS), Jim Gilliam (3B), Willie Davis (CF), Lou Johnson (LF), Ron Fairly (RF), Wes Parker (1B), Dick Tracewski (2B), John Roseboro (C), Sandy Koufax (P)
Twins: Zoilo Versalles (SS), Joe Nossek (CF), Rod Carew (RF), Harmon Killebrew (3B), Earl Battey (C), Bob Allison (LF), Don Mincher (1B), Frank Quilici (2B), Jim Kaat (P)
Just like Mudcat Grant, Twins manager Sam Mele turned not to a quality rested arm in a crucial game, but an arm he could trust. The only pitcher not named Grant or Kaat to start a game in the '65 World Series for the Twins was Camilo Pascual in Game Three. Grant pitched Game One, Game Four on three days' rest, and Game Six on two day's rest. Kaat's pattern was identical: Game Two, Game Five on three days' rest, and Game Seven on two.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, skipped over Don Drysdale and went to Sandy Koufax. Drysdale had preceded Koufax in this series, pitching games One and Four while Koufax pitched Two and Five. But when push came to shove, and it really had to come to that if you were going to compare these two pitchers, then Koufax was the only option. He was the game's best pitcher, and in 1965 it didn't really feel like he had much competition. For the second time in three years he was the game's Cy Young winner; he'd win it again in '65, but the most impressive thing about his three Cy Youngs was that each one was unanimous. Drysdale was an all-time great pitcher; Koufax was Koufax. Dodger manager Walter Alston also knew that the Twins were more susceptible to left-handed pitching, and was naturally comfortable having Drysdale available out of the bullpen.
But Jim Kaat was no slouch, and through the game's first three innings he and Kouax exchanged zeroes. A pair of two-out walks to Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew yielded nothing; John Roseboro's double and a walk taken by Koufax didn't amount to a run.
Los Angeles finally broke through Kaat in the top of the fourth, as Lou Johnson - who hit 12 home runs in '65 but slugged just .391 - pulled Kaat's offering deep down the left field line for a home run. Ron Fairly was next, who jumped all over the first pitch he saw and drove it down the right field line for a double. Wes Parker, also on the first pitch he saw, singled through the right side to bring home Fairly. In three pitches the game had gone from a tie to a 2-0 Dodger lead.
Mele had seen enough. He wasn't in a position to let Kaat pitch through it, and turned to Al Worthington. Worthington was the team's 36-year old closer, having collected 21 saves during the regular season. He was exceptional at suppressing hits and home runs in particular, but he wasn't exactly stingy when handing out walks; he allowed one but got the Twins out of the inning, down just two and stranding Parker and Roseboro in scoring position.
Minnesota had their chance in the bottom of the fifth. With one away, Frank Quilici cracked a double off Koufax. Rich Rollins, who had started the season as the team's third baseman but eventually lost his job due to poor play (it allowed Killebrew to move back to third and put in the powerful Mincher at first), pinch hit for Worthington and worked a walk off of a full count.
Still, Koufax held strong. Zoilo Versalles grounded into a force out at third, and Joe Nossek, who was seeing more time in center during the series than Jimmie Hall due to Hall's known struggles versus southpaws, also grounded out to end the threat.
Johnny Klippstein, Jim Merritt, and Jim Perry combined to give Minnesota four scoreless innings in relief. They gave their offense every opportunity to chip away at Koufax and his two-run lead, but they just couldn't do it. After Minnesota's rally was snuffed out in the fifth, the Dodger Ace went into terminator mode. Koufax retired 12 Twins in a row, with the first and only blip on the radar being Harmon Killebrew's one-out single in the ninth. Killer's hit was for nothing, and Los Angeles took Game Seven at Metropolitan Stadium by a score of 2-0.
For the Dodgers, it was another in a long line of World Series appearances. It was their third time to the Fall Classic since their move to Los Angeles in 1958, and they'd won all three series. But for the Twins it was their first appearance in the World Series since their move to Minnesota in 1961 and the first for the franchise in 32 years. They wouldn't reach it again for another 22.
The Twins have now gone at least 22 years without a World Series appearance, having last won the AL pennant in 1991. In one sense, that makes this the longest World Series drought in Twins history; but in franchise history, we still have another ten years to go. I'm optimistic that we won't have to wait that long to get back there again.
Below, you'll find the broadcast of Game Seven, called by the venerable Vin Scully and Ray Scott.