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Will the Dodgers Fold Again?

Aug. 26, 1963 - Will the Dodgers fold again in this year’s National League pennant race? Those are fighting words to manager Walter Alston and his players. Alston’s standard reply is that the Dodgers did not “collapse” last year but were victimized by Sandy Koufax’s finger injury. This year, the strikeout king is sailing along with 19 wins and 5 defeats, and the finger is fine. Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Podres, and a strong bullpen appear to guarantee the Dodgers stout pitching in the final five weeks. Alston believes this year’s team is much like the 1959 Dodger world champions — few offensive stars and a good bench — but that the pitching on this year’s squad is superior. But can they win with a team batting average of .251? Only Tommy Davis, last year’s batting champion, with .329, and Maury Wills, .301, are hitting consistently. “If our pitchers stay healthy, we should do it,” says Alston. “But our hitting is off. We can’t go on just getting one and two runs a game.” By all odds, the pressure should be on the Giants, who now trail Los Angeles by 6½ games. But the defending champions hold a 6-5 edge over the Dodgers this season, and memories of 1962 may yet pop up to haunt Alston’s men. The Dodgers have 20 games left with first-division clubs, while the Giants have only 13.


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