The Los Angeles Dodgers won the 1981 World Series, taking the title over the New York Yankees, four games to two.
This Series was a rematch of sorts of both the 1977 and 1978 World Series, when these two teams also squared off for all the marbles. In both of those late 1970s Fall Classics, though, it was the Yankees who took home titles, both times ALSO in six games.
So the 1981 World Series gave the Dodgers a chance for revenge against their long-time October rivals, and they took care of business.
Here is how the 1981 World Series between the Dodgers and Yankees played out, game by game.
Game 1: Yankees 5, Dodgers 3
Bob Watson gave the Yankees the lead out of the gate, collecting on a two-out, three-run home run off Dodgers starter Jerry Reuss in the bottom of the first. The Yanks would tack a couple more runs later in the game, and though the Dodgers rallied with two tallies in the eighth, they were pretty much toast from the beginning.
Game 2: Yankees 3, Dodgers 0
New York scraped together a few late-inning runs while Tommy John and Goose Gossage shut out the Dodgers on a just four hits and a single walk. This win sent the Series back to Los Angeles with the Yanks feeling pretty smug, up two games to none.
Game 3: Dodgers 5, Yankees 4
Ron Cey answered Watson’s earlier heroics, opening up home scoring with a three-run bomb in the bottom of the first. Watson would hit another long ball later in the game, but Los Angeles finally got off the snide with a victory at Dodger Stadium
Game 4: Dodgers 8, Yankees 7
This was a seesaw battle that featured home runs by Willie Randolph and Reggie Jackson (Yankees), and by Jay Johnstone (Dodgers). The teams traded punches all through the game, with the Dodgers taking the lead for good by small-balling a couple of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Yankees managed one more run in the top of the eighth and got two men on in the ninth before Steve Howe coaxed a flyball out to center from Randolph.
Game 5: Dodgers 2, Yankees 1
With the Series knotted at two games apiece, Jerry Reuss and Ron Guidry locked in a pitchers’ duel. New York eeked out a run in the second, but the game remained otherwise scoreless … until Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager hit back-to-back homers against Gator in the seventh inning.
Game 6: Dodgers 9, Yankees 2
With their backs to the wall, facing elimination at home, the Yankees struck first in Game 6, courtesy of a Willie Randolph solo home run in the bottom of the third inning. That 1-0 lead was short-lived, though, as the Dodgers tied the score in the top of the fourth. They’d add three more in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Each team scored just one more run from that point on, and the Dodgers celebrated their World Series championship after Watson flied to center field for the final out in the bottom of the ninth.
1981 World Series MVPs
The Dodgers’ big boppers split the end-of-series hardware: Pedro Guerrero, Ron Cey, and Steve Yeager were named co-co-co-MVPs of the 1981 World Series.
History in Stone
Through 2021, the 1981 World Series represents the last in the historic series of Yankees-Dodgers matchups in the Fall Classics.
In all, the Dodgers and Yankees have played against each other in 11 World Series, with the Yankees taking eight of those and the Dodgers just three.
Stay tuned, though, as you know these two teams are destined to meet again!