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8 Most Intense Moments in the Dodgers-Giants Rivalry

Seth VictorContributor IIIMay 9, 2013

8 Most Intense Moments in the Dodgers-Giants Rivalry

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    With another episode of Dodgers-Giants in the rearview mirror, it’s a good time to take a look back at the history of the greatest rivalry in baseball.

    The Giants followed the Dodgers to the West Coast prior to the 1958 season, and although the two were rivals in New York prior to the move, being the only teams west of St. Louis drove the rivalry to new heights.

    The hatred between the two teams and their fanbases is well known, and there have been some violent and crazy moments in this rivalry.  The rankings for this list are based on level of violence, newsworthiness and late-season impact. 

Honorable Mention

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    According to urban legend, Jackie Robinson retired rather than accept a trade to the hated Giants.  However, this is largely untrue.

Finley’s Grand Slam

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    Entering the final series of the 2004 season, the Dodgers and Giants each had a chance to win the NL West and clinch a playoff berth.  The Giants needed to sweep, while the Dodgers needed just one win.  After a victory in the first game of the series, the Giants took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth.  With closer Dustin Hermanson on the mound, victory looked imminent, and the season would come down to the final game.

    However, the Dodgers were able to load the bases, and, after a series of walks, hits, and an error, Steve Finley came to bat needing to plate just one run to win the game and the division.  He would hit a grand slam, killing the Giants’ division chances and narrowing their playoff odds to basically zero.

Watered-Down Basepaths

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    In 1962, Maury Wills broke Ty Cobb’s single-season stolen base mark.  On the way to his eventual total of 104, Wills and the Dodgers went to San Francisco with a five-game lead over the Giants.  Manager Alvin Dark, in an attempt to neutralize the speed of Wills and Willie Davis, had the basepath around first base watered down prior to the August 11 game.  The Dodgers would lose the game, and the Giants would come back later that season to tie the Dodgers in the standings and force a playoff. 

Smith Goes into the Stands

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    In September, 1981, Dodgers outfielder Reggie Smith was taunted by Giants fan Michael Dooley during a game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  After Dooley threw a batting helmet at Smith, Smith went into the stands and proceeded to beat up Dooley, sending him to the hospital.  Giants manager Frank Robinson blamed Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda for not being able to keep his team under control.

Bryan Stow

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    The rivalry took a violent and brutal turn in 2011, when Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten by Dodgers fans following an Opening Day 2-1 victory by the Dodgers.  It was a shocking event that highlighted the negative aspects of the rivalry.

    It also increased the dislike of Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt, who had cut back on security and has gotten some of the blame for the incident.

End of the 1982 Season

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    In 1982, the Dodgers and the Giants each finished within two games of the National League West title.

    Heading into the last weekend, though, the teams were each one game behind Atlanta and each had a chance to win the division.  However, each team knocked the other out, with the Giants eliminating the Dodgers after a Joe Morgan home run on the last day of the season.

1962 Playoff

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    1962 was the year of one of the most epic races the two rivals have ever had.  They finished the year with 101 wins each, triggering a three-game playoff series in which the winner went to the World Series and the loser’s season was over.

    The Dodgers and Giants split the first two games.  The third game was winner-take-all, and the Dodgers took a 4-2 lead into the ninth.  They choked it away, though, and the Giants went on to win 6-4 and earned a spot in the World Series against the Yankees.

Shot Heard ‘Round the World

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    One of the most famous home runs in baseball history, Bobby Thompson’s home run in 1951 clinched a spot in the World Series for the Giants.

    The Dodgers had a 13.5 game lead over the Giants in August, but the Giants went on a 37-7 run to end the season and forced a three-game playoff.

    Still, the Dodgers had a chance to put the Giants away.  In the deciding third game, Dodgers starter Don Newcombe had a 4-1 lead in the ninth.  After he put a couple baserunners on, Ralph Branca replaced him, and Thomson hit his home run.

    Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges made the call

Marichal/Roseboro

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    Juan Marichal’s shocking violence in 1965 is one of the most brutal single acts to ever occur on a baseball field.

    After a seemingly innocuous return throw from Dodger catcher John Roseboro to pitcher Sandy Koufax, Marichal—who was batting at the time—turned and "hit Roseboro on the top of the head at least twice and opened a two-inch cut that bled profusely".

    The two teams were already rivals, but this incident cemented the permanent animosity that exists between the two clubs and their respective fan bases.

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