The rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants can stand up against any rivalry in sports. It has been a fairly balanced war, with each team enjoying much success over the years. The Yanks/Sox rivalry has its charm, but nothing can compare with the evenly balanced and highly compelling rivalry that the Dodgers and Giants offer. Here are a few moments in time that have helped shape this historic battle.
- The first unofficial contest between these two teams was at the New York Polo Grounds on October 18, 1889. It was essentially a “World Series” pitting the AA (American Association) Champion Brooklyn against the NL Champion New York. The games were considered to be merely exhibitions, but the series was won by New York, six games to three.
- The first official game takes place that following year after Brooklyn joins the NL and defeats New York 7-3.
- The first dispute was seen in 1890 as Darby O’Brien, third-base coach for Brooklyn, pretends to be a base runner to draw a throw to third base.
- The first media spat is born between Dodgers (known as the Robins then) Manager Wilbert Robinson and Giants Manager John McGraw. Robinson had been a Giants coach and was fired by McGraw, ending a two-decade friendship.
- The Dodgers defeat the Giants in the last week of the 1927 season to end New York’s chances at a pennant.
- The phrase “Nice guys finish last” was coined by Dodger Manager Leo Durocher, in reference to Giants Manager Mel Ott. Two years later, Durocher’s team was struggling early on, and he was fired by the team. Later that same season, Ott was let go by the Giants and replaced with, you guessed it, Leo Durocher.
- In 1951, Bobby Thomson’s historic home run is dubbed the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” It culminated a season that saw the Giants come back from a deficit of 13 ½ games on August 11th to force a playoff. A playoff they would win on Thomson’s home run, known as the greatest homer in the history of the game.
- One of baseball’s most violent moments occurs in 1965 between the clubs. Giants hurler Juan Marichal brushes back two Dodger hitters early in the game. Dodger backstop John Roseboro then buzzes a few return throws to the pitcher past Marichal’s ear. Marichal proceeds to turn around and bash Roseboro on the melon with his bat.
- In 1978, Dodger fielder Reggie Smith goes into the Candlestick Park stands to fight a fan who was throwing objects at him. He did it again in 1981. I wonder if it was the same fan.
- The Giants squash the Dodgers postseason hopes by sweeping a series late in the 1990 season. They did it again the following year by defeating L.A. on the second to last day of the year. The Dodgers did the same to the Giants in 1993, on the last day of the season.
- The winter of 2001 saw a Wall Street Journal article that disclosed the methods the Giants used to steal signs during their historic 1951 comeback, and subsequent playoff win over the Dodgers. The Giants asked the Dodgers to participate in an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Thomson’s home run. Not surprisingly, the Dodgers gave them a big fat no.
- The next to last day of the 2004 season saw the Dodgers score seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Giants and take the Western Division title.
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- Mock Draft of News, Notes and Rumors on Cleveland.com/DSN radio show (fryingpansports.com)