Ex-Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine delivers on past World Series

In a wildly unpredictable series that featured 12 pitchers each for Houstonand Los Angeles, one sure thing Wednesday night was that the Dodgers wouldn't turn to their last man on the mound from the two times they previously hosted Game 7 of the World Series.

Carl Erskine, who turns 91 in December, was the final Dodgers pitcher to appear in Game 7 of the 1952 and '56 World Series, at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, and though he didn't allow a run either time, his team lost both games to the New York Yankees.

"Our problem was we played against one of the great teams of all time," Erskine told ESPN by phone Wednesday, from his home in Indiana, more than 2,000 miles from Dodger Stadium.

Erskine said the 9-0 defeat to close out the 1956 World Series was especially disappointing because Brooklyn was defending the world title it had won for the first time the year before, also against the Yankees.

"What was unreal was not so much the runs the Yankees scored but that we were shut out at home," he said, adding, "It was an aberration to come to the seventh game and get stomped."

Erskine chuckled in recounting the World Series share of $9,768.21 that he and each of his teammates got for winning it all in 1955.

"I was sitting next to Joe Torre at a dinner after he managed the Yankees to a World Series title (more than 40 years later) and I kidded him about his team's winner's share (of $300,000-plus)," he said. "I told him we got six figures, too, but you had to count the change.

"I've never been jealous or envious; the pot's bigger now and the players should get it."

The right-hander, who had a 122-78 record as a career-long Dodger (from 1948 to 1957 in Brooklyn and 1958-59 in L.A.), said his pick to win Wednesday's Game 7 was the Dodgers, though he expressed admiration for the Astros. Houston went on to win the game, 5-1.

Erskine, who pitched in five World Series altogether, said this one has been a classic. He's seen most of the action on TV, excluding the conclusion of the 13-12 Game 5 five-hour marathon that Houston won on Sunday night -- "I was in bed by then."

The Dodgers lost 4-2 to the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1952 World Series, despite two scoreless innings from Erskine in a game that lasted 2 hours, 54 minutes. He pitched a perfect inning in the 1956 Game 7 that the Yankees won for the title, and that one lasted just 2:19.

While plenty has changed beyond the lengths of games since Erskine pitched, there's one thing about a Game 7 that he says is a constant.

"It is a payoff for the whole season, 200-plus games going back to spring training, and you feel that," he said.

"For tonight's game, I even feel it at home in Indiana. It's payoff time."
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