This rivalry predates every living baseball fan, beginning before the teams even played in the same league! In 1899, the National League champion New York Giants and American Association-leading Brooklyn Bridegrooms agreed to an experimental best-of-11 series. The Giants prevailed, six games to three, and Brooklyn joined the NL the following season. Both clubs have competed there ever since.
The longtime major league player begins what would a 30-year tenure in New York. McGraw immediately turned around a struggling team, leading them to a franchise-record 106 wins in 1904, just his second full season as manager. They would consistently contend for the National League pennant over the next several decades.
In Dan Fost's book, "Giants: Past & Present," he explains how Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets crossed a line by hiring Wilbert Robinson—a former teammate of McGraw's—to be his manager. Robinson and McGraw would compete directly against one another through the 1931 season.
The Dodgers and Giants finished the regular season with identical 96-58 records. That forced a best-of-three tiebreaker series to determine who would represent the NL in the World Series. In the deciding game, the Giants rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning, ultimately winning on Bobby Thomson's dramatic home run.
I revisited this and other classic MLB tiebreaker games in a recent column for Hero Habit: http://bit.ly/HH_tiebreakers
Unsatisfied with living in the shadow of the dominant New York Yankees, Dodgers' owner Walter O'Malley reached out to the city of Los Angeles about a potential move to California. Around the same time, San Francisco mayor George Christopher entered negotiations to bring the Giants out west also. During the summer of 1957, both franchises announced their intentions to relocate, allowing the rivalry to continue uninterrupted.
During a matchup at Candlestick Park, Giants pitcher Juan Marichal came up to bat after already hitting two Dodgers batters with pitches earlier in the game. Even though Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax didn't retaliate, Marichal was upset with catcher Johnny Roseboro for throws to the mound that Marichal claimed came dangerously close to his head. As Marichal and Roseboro began to argue, Marichal hit him on the head with his bat and a bench-clearing brawl ensued.
The rivalry became very one-sided with Lasorda leading the Dodgers. His two decades in charge were highlighted by eight postseason appearances and two World Series titles, compared to just two appearances for the Giants (and zero rings). The Dodgers also pitched two no-hitters against their rivals during that period, one each in 1980 and 1992.
Occasionally, fans can lose sight of the fact that the rivalry is only meant to exist on the field, with horrible consequences. Brian Stow (pictured) was one of several baseball fans affected by recent attacks that have taken place at Dodgers-Giants games. The two men responsible for his 2011 injuries plead guilty in 2014 and each received prison time.
These teams have combined to win eight of the past nine NL West division titles. While the Giants can boast about capturing three more championships during that stretch, the Dodgers have won more regular season games in four straight seasons. Both teams expect to contend again in 2017.
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