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On This Day In History | 1978

October 17, 2012

“The Bronx Zoo” celebrates a championship (Sports Illustrated)

On this day 34 years ago the Yankees won their 22nd World Series title, 7-2, in a rematch of the 1977 Fall Classic. Leading up to game 6 the Bombers were poised for the kill.  After dropping the first 2 games of the series, the Yanks used 3 straight games in Yankee Stadium to propel themselves to a 3-2 series advantage.  Now, in a return trip to the City of Angels, they hoped they could reverse their recent fortunes in Dodger Stadium.

Things looked promising with future Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter on the mound who, though in the twilight of his career, was still capable of baffling opposing bats, but a leadoff home run by Davy Lopes sent the 55,985 Dodger faithful into a frenzy.  The Yanks silenced the raucous crowd in the 2nd, touching Don Sutton for 3 runs on a Brian Doyle double and a Bucky Dent single.  The Dodgers tacked on a 2nd run in the 3rd on a Lopes single, but it would be the last one yielded by Hunter and Goose Gossage.

The Yanks padded their lead as Doyle and Dent, the bottom of the Yankee order, struck again with back-to-back singles that pushed the lead to 5-2.  In the 7th Reggie Jackson put the game out of reach, sending the first pitch he saw from Bob Welch deep into the California night, scoring Roy White for a 7-2 lead.

It had been a remarkable season for the team dubbed “The Bronx Zoo.”  In July they trailed the Boston Red Sox by 14 1/2 games in the AL East race, miraculously coming back to tie them on the season’s final day.  After winning a 1-game playoff in Fenway Park, the Bombers dispatched the Kansas City Royals in 4 games in the ALCS, and swept the last 4 games of the World Series to repeat as Champions.  They accomplished all this despite infighting among players, coaches, and management and a mid-season coaching change from Billy Martin (his first of 4 firings by George Steinbrenner) to Bob Lemon.  They overcame every obstacle and remarkably, inexplicably came out on top.

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