Rivalry Remembered: The 5 Most Intense Moments in Giants-Dodgers History

Hope Schwartz@@HopeSchwartz16Contributor IMay 8, 2013

The Giants opened the 2013 season with a three-game series in Los Angeles.
The Giants opened the 2013 season with a three-game series in Los Angeles.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" 

It’s music to Giants fans' ears and the most despised call in Dodger history. No sound so exemplifies the age-old rivalry that started in the East and blossomed in the West.

From New York to California, the two teams have been dueling it out on the field since their first game in 1884, and the rivalry continued when the Giants swept a three-game series against the Dodgers last weekend.

Although the 1951 “Shot Heard 'Round the World” marks the most well-known moment of the rivalry, intensity between these two teams have thrived since their creation. In 1957—under pressure from Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley—Giants’ majority owner Horace Stoneham followed his rival to the West Coast in the move to San Francisco.

Since then, the Dodgers have won the National League pennant nine times to the Giants’ five. The Dodgers have not had a championship season since 1988, while the Giants picked up victories in 2010 and 2012.

The rivalry is often considered secondary to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry because the two teams haven’t traditionally been good at the same time. However, since Frank McCourt ran the Dodgers into bankruptcy in 2012, the Dodgers’ new ownership group has shown that it has deep pockets and is willing to spend. 

With both teams heating up over the last several seasons, this rivalry is not going anywhere fast. From the 19th century to the 21st, here are the five most intense historical moments between the two franchises.

1. 1889 World Series

Before the American League came into existence, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms took on the New York Giants in a best-of-11 series to end the 1889 series. The Bridegrooms went up 3-1, but the Giants came back strong and swept the next five games to emerge victorious.

But more important to the rivalry was the circumstances under which the games were won. Giants shortstop John Montgomery Ward was locked in a longstanding conflict with umpire John Gaffney.

Ward had previously given Gaffney a black eye, and legend has it that the enmity was the reason Gaffney called a couple games early due to lack of daylight. Ward went on to be the most important player in the series.


2. 1951 Sal Maglie versus Jackie Robinson 

Maglie and Robinson may have had the most confrontational relationship in baseball during the 1950s. The Giants’ ace—known as “the Barber” for his tendency to pitch inside—selected Robinson as one of his favored targets. 

On April 30, 1951, the two engaged in a memorable collision that fanned the fire of the Giants and Dodgers rivalry.

Robinson stepped to the plate and was promptly knocked to the ground by a pitch straight at his head. On the next pitch, Robinson bunted down the first base line. As Maglie came over to field the ball, the Dodger picked up speed and collided hard with the pitcher, sending him sprawling in the infield.

In response to Dodgers manager Leo Durocher’s claim that it was a bush-league play, Robinson replied, “if it was a bush stunt, he is a bush manager because he taught me how to do it.”


3. 1951 Shot Heard 'Round the World

The formative moment in the rivalry, “the Shot” inspired generations of animosity between the two teams.

On October 3, 1951, the Giants and the Dodgers were locked in a down-to-the-wire pennant race. Both teams had won one game of the three-game series, and the third and deciding game started poorly for the Giants when the Dodgers went up 1-0 in the top of the first inning.

With Sal “the Barber” Maglie on the mound, the Dodgers went up 4-1 in the top of the eighth, and it looked like the game—and the season—was all but over for the Giants.

But two singles and a double later, the Dodgers went to the bullpen and brought in Ralph Branca with Bobby Thomson on deck. Thomson wasted no time in ripping the second pitch he saw into the left field bleachers, clinching the pennant for the Giants. 

As Thomson rounded the bases, his teammates rushed onto the field and lifted him on their shoulders, as Russ Hodges made history with his “the Giants win the pennant” radio call.

Although the Giants lost to the Yankees in the World Series and were later found to have been stealing signs from their opponents, the three-run home run lives as the biggest moment of the rivalry.


4. 1965 Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Fight

On August 22, 1965, tensions came to a head in one of the bloodiest fights in baseball. It started at Candlestick Park in a battle of aces Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal. 

With Marichal up to bat and catcher John Roseboro in the squat, Koufax made his pitch. Low and inside, Marichal watched the pitch sail by. But when Roseboro went to return the ball to Koufax, his throw came uncomfortably close to Marichal’s head.

In the ensuing chaos, Marichal whipped around as Roseboro got to his feet with fists clenched. Marichal took his bat to the catcher’s head twice, drawing blood before players, umpires, and the third base coach rushed the plate to break up the fight.

A series of minor injuries and 15 minutes later, Marichal was ejected and the game continued. The Giants went on to win the game and cut the Dodgers lead to half a game.


5. 1982 Little Shot Heard 'Round the World 

Both teams were locked in a three-way race with the Atlanta Braves. On the second-to-last day of the season, the Dodgers spoiled the Giants shot at the title with a 15-2 victory at Candlestick Park.

But a day later, the Giants got their retribution. Locked in a 2-2 tie going into the eighth, Joe Morgan smashed a three-run homer to open up a 5-2 lead. Reminiscent of Bobby Thomson’s famous home run, the shot contributed to a 5-3 victory that eliminated the Dodgers from the race.


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