Monday, January 14, 2008

Johnny Podres Dies at 75

Former major league baseball star Johnny Podres died Sunday at Glens Falls Hospital (N.Y.). He was 75, and had been ill for several years.

Podres a Dodgers legend best known for helping lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series championship in 1955. He spent 15 years as a player in the major leagues, and spent decades after that working as a pitching coach for a number of teams. As the pitching coach with the Twins , Podres is credited for teaching former Met Frank Viola his circle change, a pitch that helped Viola turn his career around. He also won another World Series ring with Philadelphia in '93.

Podres spent time with the Dodgers, Tigers and Padres before retiring in 1969 at age 36. He had a career record of 148-116 and an ERA of 3.68. In 1957, the Dodgers last year in Brooklyn, Podres led the National League with a 2.66 ERA and six shutouts. Podres was given the first ever World Series MVP Award by Sport Magazine. It was a red two-seater Corvette. Later he was honored as the Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustraed magazine.

Podres won World Series titles with the Dodgers in 1955, 1959 and 1963. The lefty's most famous performance was a complete-game shutout in Game 7 against the hated Yankees in the '55 Series to end their reign of terror over Brooklyn, giving the borough its only World Series title.