In December of 1956, Jackie Robinson was traded from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants baseball club. Instead of playing for the Giants, Jackie Robinson retired in January of 1957 before the start of the season.
The historical and heated rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants stretches as far back as the 1880s. In what is considered the first duel of the longest standing rivalries, the Brooklyn “Bridegroom’s” met the New York Giants in a 1889 World Series matchup. Unlike the seven games series we see today, the 1889 World Series was a best out of eleven match-up where the New York Giants won the series six games to three.
When the Bridegrooms officially moved to the National League in 1890, the rivalry would eventually become one of the most competitive in the history of baseball. Since 1901, both teams have split the overall head to head record at just about 50% (The Dodgers have won 1121 games to the Giants 1145). Since 1903, the Giant have won eight World Series Championship and three of them since they moved to San Francisco in 1957. The Dodgers on the other have won six World Series Championships and appeared in eleven World Series Championships since their move to the West Coast during the same year as the Giants.
The rivalry continued with the inception of the National League West Division, which was created in 1969. The division title has been captured by the Giants or the Dodgers twenty times. The Giants have won the division eight times, where the Dodgers have won the division twelve times. The Dodgers have won the National League West Division the past three seasons, which is a first for the Organization . With nine out of the remaining 38 games in the season against the Giants, it appears the Dodgers are in order for what appears to be another exciting National League West Division finale.
Let us take a look at memorable head-to-head games between the two clubs:
1951 Pennant Race
For baseball fans, 1951 was an exciting year not just for the Dodgers and Giants fans but for all fans around the league. However, for this storied rivalry, the finale of 1951 stamped itself in the history books as one of the most memorable finishes in sports.
With the Giants trailing the Brooklyn Dodgers 13.5 games in mid-august of the 1951 season, it was believed that the Giants were out of the playoff race. The Giants went on a 16 game winning streak, winning 37 of their last 44 games only to tie the Dodgers and force a 3 game tie-breaker series .
The Giants won the first game 3-1. The Dodgers rebounded and shutout the Giants in the second game winning 10-0. Game three was held at the Polo Grounds before 34,000 attendees. The Giants found themselves in a similar position where many believed the game was over by the 9th inning. The Dodgers were leading 4-1 when White Lockman drove in another run to cut the lead to 4-2. With two men on based and Willie Mays on deck, relief pitcher Dodger Ralph Branca faced third baseman Bobby Thomson. On the second pitch, Thomson delivered a three-run home run shot into left-field stands. The rest is history. See and hear the call for yourself:
Dodgers play in 1988 World Series, Giants play in the Next
Both clubs keep a close eye on the other and nothing more says more than the seasons of 1988 and 1989. In 1988, the Dodgers finished first in the West while the Giants finished fourth, eleven and a half games behind the division leaders. In 1989, the Giants finished first in the Division. The Dodgers finished fourth, fourteen games behind the top divisional spot. The 1988 World Series provided the iconic monstrous one-legged home run by pinch-hitter Kirk Gibson to win Game 1 against one of the top closers in baseball, Dennis Eckersley. Enjoy the call:
The Giants reached 1988 World Series after defeating the San Diego Padres four to one in the National League Conference Series. Facing a determined Oakland Athletics club, the Giants were down 2-0 going into game three when an destructing earthquake struck northern California. The Giants were swept by the Athletics 4-0 in a series remembered most by the devastating tragedy. Check out the call yourself:
Generally, a rivalry is associated with the amount of head to head wins, championships and the trash talking between both clubs. However, the Dodgers were in no position to backup their performance after a dismal 1992 season and slightly improved 1993 season record 81 wins, 81 losses.
However, that did not stop the 1993 Dodgers from eliminating an 103-win Giants ball club from reaching the postseason. With the Atlanta Braves tied for first place in the Division, the Giants had a chance to reach the post season and tie Atlanta with 104 wins. With a thrashing 12 to 1 win over the Giants, the 1993 season would go down as one of the worst for San Francisco.
2004 Walk off Grand Slam
On Saturday October 2, 2004, the Dodgers held a two game lead over the Giants with two games remaining in the season. Later that day, the Dodgers found themselves trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth when Shaw Green started a comeback for the boys in blue. Followed by an Giants error and then a run-tying single by Jayson Werth, the Dodgers had come back to set the stage for one of the most remarkable Grand Slams in Dodgers history. Steve Finley stepped up to bat to face Giants pitcher, Wayner Franklin and crushed a high fastball to right field. The grand slam officially ended the Giants chances of a post season run and sent the Division Champion Los Angeles Dodgers into the playoffs. It was a wonderful moment:
Are we set for another Old Fashioned National League West Finish in 2017?
In the last decade, seven of the Division winners have been the Dodgers or the Giants. The Giants have won three of their World Series Championships, winning their first since moving to San Francisco from New York. As we are awaiting the 2017 season, we can’t wait to see how both teams are setting up their sweet and bitter rivalry that has thrown fans into a frenzy for decades.