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World Series hero, Moriah native, dies

WITHERBEE Johnny Podres was a World Series legend to most of the country, but in his hometown of Moriah hell always be remembered best as a friend and neighbor. Podres, who pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series title in 1955, died Jan. 13 at the age of 75. He never forgot where he came from, Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. He was a great person with a big heart. Theres a deep sense of loss in the community. Podres grew up on Lamos Place in Witherbee. He graduated from Mineville High School in 1950 before joining the Dodgers. After a long career as a pitcher and later as a pitching coach, Podres retired to Queensbury. He always told people, I live in Queensbury, but Witherbee is my home, Scozzafava recalled. The supervisor recalled Podres always carried baseball cards and balls that he signed for fans, young and old. In fact, an autographed Podres baseball sits on Scozzafavas desk. Johnny was an icon, a hero to many generations mine, my fathers and my childrens, Scozzafava said. Podres did the unthinkable he led the Brooklyn Dodgers past the New York Yankees for their one and only World Series championship. The Witherbee native was named the 1955 World Series Most Valuable Player after winning two games, including the decisive seventh game, 2-0. He was also Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year that season Podres ended a legendary sports drought. The Dodgers had lost the World Series to their cross-town rival Yankees five straight times. The day after the final game the New York Post published a full-page photo of the Dodger ace with the headline: PODRES! (Need We Say More?"). As the story goes, Podres told his teammates to get him just one run and the Dodgers would win Game 7. They got him two, and the franchise celebrated its first and only championship while playing in Brooklyn. The celebration in Brooklyn following the World Series victory was said to be greater than at the end of World War II. Moriah celebrated, too. Shortly after winning the World Series, Podres returned home for a huge parade and celebration. Tommy Byrne, the losing pitcher in that game, died Dec. 20. Podres pitched 15 years in the major leagues with the Dodgers, Padres and Tigers, posting a 148-116 record with 3.67 earned run average. The southpaw appeared in three All-Star Games and was 4-1 in World Series play (1953, 1955, 1959 and 1963) with a 2.11 ERA. Podres also served as a pitching coach when he was older, helping develop Frank Viola when he was with the Minnesota Twins and Curt Schilling when he was on the Philadelphia Phillies staff. In 2005 Podres was grand marshall of the Moriah Labor Day parade in 2005 as the community celebrated the 50th anniversary of him being named World Series MVP. In 2006 he was inducted into the Lake Placid hall of Fame.

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