Top Ten DS Moments:8: Russell’s Walk-Off Wins 1978 NLCS


In honor of the sacred 50th anniversary of our Beloved Dodger Stadium, I will be releasing my top ten moments of Dodger Stadium history. Currently the Dodgers are casting a special vote on what the top ten moments of the last 50 years at the Ravine are. These are my top ten however. Please note these are mine, and mine alone. These are the top ten moments according to me, a lifelong fanatical Dodger fan, who has grown up in southern California. There are so many memories it is almost too hard to choose just ten. I will count down each one per day, leading up to the Dodger’s Opening day game April 5th in San Diego. Each one of these moments will make you smile, laugh, and will bring chills down your spine. Some of them may even take your breath away. Without further adieu, I give you the number eight moment in Dodger Stadium history….Bill Russell’s walk-off hit to win the 1978 NLCS for the Dodgers…..

The 1977 and 1978 regular seasons were almost exact carbon copies of each other. In both years, the Dodgers won the NL West title, beating out their division rivals the Cincinnati Reds. In both years, the Dodgers won over 95 games to cruise to the division title. 1978 wasn’t as easy, though the Dodgers still finished with a record of 95-67 and two and a half games in front of the Reds. Their opponent both years in the NLCS was the Philadelphia Phillies. The Dodgers have played the Phillies five times in the NLCS, winning in only these two years of 1977-1978. In the 77 NLCS, the Dodgers defeated the Phillies 3 games to 1. In game 3 known as the “Black Friday” game, Bill Russell drove in what would be the winning run, at the time giving the Dodgers the series lead. The following season, Bill Russell’s walk-off single would clinch the pennant for the Dodgers, this time at Dodger Stadium.

On October 7th 1978, the Dodgers were leading the best of five NLCS two games to one. Game four’s pitching match-up featured a battle of lefties Randy Lerch for the Phillies, and the Dodgers countering with Doug Rau.

The Dodgers hit first, with a double by Ron Cey in the second followed by an RBI single from Dusty Baker. The Phillies took the lead back when Greg Luzinski blasted a two run homer in the third. The Dodgers would rally to tie, then took the lead off a solo home run from Cey in the fourth and another solo home run, this time from Steve Garvey. That was Garvey’s fourth home run of the series, which tied the record previously set by Bob Robertson in 1971.

With the Dodgers up 3-2 in the 7th, Blake McBride tied the game at three with a solo home run for the Phillies. The game remained tied until the bottom of the 10th inning. With Tug Mcgraw on the mound for Philadelphia, the Dodgers started another two out rally. The Dodgers were a well oiled machine back in those days. With two outs, Cey walks. Baker flies to center, for what would have been the third out, but center-fielder Garry Maddox misjudged the ball or lost it in the sun. The ball glanced off his glove for an error, and put runners at first and second. This brought up Bill Russell with another chance the second year in a row to have a game winning hit.

This time, Russell’s hit won the pennant for the Dodgers. Russell lines a base hit to center, Maddox charged but the ball skips past him. Cey scores the winning run and the Dodgers are National League champions for the second season in a row.

55, 124 Dodger fans celebrated that day. However, unfortunately the World Series ring was not meant to be that year. Once again, 1978 was a carbon copy of 1977. The Dodgers lost to those damn Yankees in back- to-back fall classics, both in six games. The Dodgers would get their revenge on the Yankees a fews years later.

Tags: Bill Russell Davey Lopes Dodgers Doug Rau Ron Cey Steve Garvey