B/R MLB Rivalry Series: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
Welcome to the second edition of Bleacher Report's MLB rivalry series.
In the weeks to come, we'll be highlighting some of the biggest head-to-head rivalries in our national pastime and shining light on the past, present and future of those matchups.
We kicked things off with a look at the famed Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees rivalry, and now we turn our attention to the National League side, where the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have a long history of their own.
Their rivalry began when both teams resided in New York and continued when they simultaneously moved across the country to California. Recent battles for the NL West crown have kept the feud alive and kicking.
The following provides a look at notable numbers and notes from the rivalry, a detailed breakdown of the rivalry's origins, an overview of memorable regular-season moments, a rundown of pennant-race clashes between the two clubs and finally, a preview of the future outlook of both franchises.
Rivalry Numbers and Notes
Head-to-Head Record (Regular Season)
- 1,227-1,196 (adv. SF)
Head-to-Head Postseason Meetings
- 1889 World Series (NYG 6, BKN 3)
- 6/22/1891: Tom Lovett, BKN
- 7/31/1891: Amos Rusie, NYG
- 4/15/1915: Rube Marquard, NYG
- 9/9/1948: Rex Barney, BKN
- 5/12/1956: Carl Erskine, BKN
- 5/11/1963: Sandy Koufax, LAD
- 6/27/1980: Jerry Reuss, LAD
- 8/17/1992: Kevin Gross, LAD
- 5/29/1928: Bill Terry, NYG
- 9/2/1944: Dixie Walker, BKN
- 4/13/2009: Orlando Hudson, LAD
Notable Players Who Made an Impact on Both Sides
- OF Dusty Baker
- OF Brett Butler
- SP Freddie Fitzsimmons
- SP Orel Hershiser
- 2B Jeff Kent
- SP Rube Marquard
- RP Brian Wilson
The rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants was born from both teams residing in New York during their inception, but it stretched beyond geographic convenience.
Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times explained the stark differences between the two franchises during the time they called the state of New York home:
Before Red Sox-Yankees, there was Dodgers-Giants -- two teams ripe for rivalry because, while they played in the same league and same city, they couldn't have represented neighborhoods that were more different.
The Giants were from glitzy, urbane Manhattan while the Dodgers -- the lovable bums -- were from gritty, blue-collar Brooklyn.
From that yin and yang grew one of the best rivalries in MLB history. When it came time for the Dodgers to make the move to Los Angeles, the Giants were close behind in their own exodus from the Big Apple.
Following the 1957 season, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley made the decision to move his club to Los Angeles. In the process, he managed to convince Giants owner Horace Stoneham—who was contemplating a move of his own—to follow him to California.
Just like that, the Yankees were left by themselves in New York and the Dodgers-Giants rivalry was alive and well on the other side of the country.
Digging even further back into the history of the two franchises, some might credit a feud between Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets and Giants manager John McGraw at the turn of the century for turning the rivalry into more than just a byproduct of location.
Notable Regular-Season Rivalry Moments
Jackie Robinson retires rather than joining the Giants
Following the 1956 season, the Dodgers traded Jackie Robinson to the Giants in exchange for Dick Littlefield and $30,000, but Robinson opted to retire rather than switch sides in the rivalry.
The trade was voided and the 37-year-old Robinson, who was suffering from diabetes and had seen a dip in his production as a result, called it a career.
Aug. 22, 1965: Juan Marichal vs. Johnny Roseboro
In one of the more gruesome fights in MLB history, Giants ace Juan Marichal struck Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro in the head with a bat.
With warnings already issued earlier in the game, Dodgers starter Sandy Koufax wasn't going to throw at a batter and risk being ejected. Roseboro took matters into his own hands when Marichal stepped into the batter's box, whizzing a return throw to Koufax right by the future Hall of Famer's head and sparking an exchange that led to one of the most shocking on-field moments in the sport's history.
The two would become friends after clearing the air post-retirement, but it stands as an enduring moment of how heated the rivalry has been at times.
Sept. 18, 1997: Brian Johnson's walk-off home run
As the Dodgers were clinging to a two-game lead in the NL West with 11 games to play, they traveled to San Francisco for a two-game series against a Giants team that was directly behind them in the standings.
The Giants won the first game, 2-1, cutting the Dodgers' division lead in half. The second game went 12 innings before Giants catcher Brian Johnson delivered a walk-off home run against reliever Mark Guthrie to pull his team into a tie atop the standings.
The Giants would go 6-3 the rest of the way to claim the division title by two games over the Dodgers.
Oct. 5, 2001: Barry Bonds hits No. 71 vs. Dodgers
Roger Maris held the single-season home run record for an impressive 37 years before Mark McGwire surpassed him in 1998. It would take just three more seasons before Barry Bonds became the new home run king, launching 73 long balls in 2001.
The record-breaking No. 71 came off Dodgers starter Chan Ho Park in the bottom of the first inning on Oct. 5. Bonds took Park deep again in the bottom of the third inning, but the Dodgers wound up winning, 11-10.
Notable Pennant-Race Clashes
Asked his opinion about the Dodgers going into the 1934 season, Giants manager Bill Terry responded, "I haven't heard anything from them; are they still in the league?"
The Dodgers would finish a distant sixth in the NL standings with a 71-81 record, but Terry would eat his words. The Giants entered the final two games of the regular season tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL pennant, but the Dodgers beat them both times to play the role of spoiler.
The first major pennant race between the two rivals would prove to be one of the most memorable in baseball history.
The Dodgers held a 13.5-game lead over the Giants on Aug. 11, but the Giants put together an impressive second-half push and the two teams ended the season tied atop the NL standings.
That forced a three-game playoff to determine the NL pennant winner, and Bobby Thomson delivered his famous "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in the third game to give the Giants the walk-off winner and their first pennant since 1937.
Another tie in the NL standings set up another three-game playoff for the NL pennant just 11 years later, and the Giants once again came out on top with a victory in the third game.
A four-run top of the ninth inning proved to be the difference in the clincher, as Dodgers reliever Ed Roebuck loaded the bases and allowed a run and fellow relievers Stan Williams and Ron Perranoski were unable to pitch out of the jam.
However, just like in 1951, the Giants would come up short in the World Series. This would mark the final time that a three-game playoff was used to determine the division/pennant winner, as the league shifted to a single-game format.
The two rivals engaged in another season-ending three-game series in 1982, this time as part of the regular-season schedule. Both teams entered the series tied for second in the NL West, with each trailing the Atlanta Braves by one game.
The Dodgers won the first two games to eliminate the Giants from the playoffs, but the Giants returned the favor on the final day of the season. Joe Morgan hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to give San Francisco a 5-3 victory, which eliminated the Dodgers from playoff contention and gave the Atlanta Braves the division by one game.
The 1991 season proved to be almost a mirror image of the 1982 race.
This time, the Giants took two of three from the Dodgers, eliminating them from the playoffs on the second-to-last day of the regular season behind a two-hit shutout from Trevor Wilson.
The Dodgers won the final game of the regular season, 2-0, but the Braves would once again win the NL West title by one game.
In the final season before the wild-card format was implemented, the Giants won 103 games but failed to make it to the postseason.
The Giants had won the first three contests during a season-ending four-game series in Los Angeles, but they were once again chasing the Braves entering the final day of the season.
The Dodgers put an end to the Giants' playoff hopes with a 12-1 victory, as catcher Mike Piazza went 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI, while Kevin Gross twirled a complete game on the mound.
The 2004 season ended with the two teams squaring off in a three-game series in Los Angeles and the Dodgers holding a three-game lead in the division.
Steve Finley's walk-off grand slam gave the Dodgers a 7-3 victory in the second game after they trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, clinching the NL West title for them.
The Giants were still alive in the wild-card race heading into the final game of the year, and ace Jason Schmidt threw six shutout innings in a 10-0 rout, but a Houston Astros victory officially eliminated the Giants from the postseason.
The Present and Future of the Rivalry
The Dodgers and Giants remain bitter rivals as the two prominent teams in the NL West, with the Giants holding a 6.5-game lead in the NL West standings at the All-Star break.
Since the 2008 season, one of the two clubs has claimed the NL West title every year aside from the 2011 season, when the Arizona Diamondbacks came out on top.
The Giants have won five NL pennants and three World Series titles since the last time the Dodgers appeared in the Fall Classic in 1988, when they topped the heavily favored Oakland Athletics in five games.
Along with winning three titles in the past five years, the present also looks incredibly bright for the Giants.
The offseason additions of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have given them a formidable starting rotation, and the offense has continued to produce even after losing Hunter Pence, Joe Panik, Matt Duffy and a handful of others to injury.
While the Giants may hold the advantage in 2016, there's plenty of reason for excitement about the Dodgers' future.
The Dodgers' farm system, headlined by 19-year-old phenom Julio Urias, took the No. 2 spot in our farm system rankings following the June draft.
Joining Urias are fellow pitchers Jose De Leon, Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas atop the current organizational rankings, and the team has added a wealth of lower-level talent with huge upside on the international market in recent years.
That crop of young talent, coupled with the Dodgers' seemingly endless supply of money to put toward the MLB payroll, gives them as bright a long-term outlook as any team in the league.
Meanwhile, the Giants' farm system checked in at No. 22, as the homegrown pipeline is starting to run dry.
Shortstop Christian Arroyo and right-handers Phil Bickford and Tyler Beede give them a trio of top-tier prospects, but they don't have anywhere near the depth of the Dodgers.
Regardless, both teams look like legitimate contenders in 2016 and there's no clear sign of an impending drop-off on either side.
The rivalry is alive and well, and with the Dodgers' pitching staff finally approaching full health, another September clash for the division title is not out of the question.
All stats and records courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.