Most Memorable Moments of the Giants vs. Dodgers Rivalry
Most Memorable Moments of the Giants vs. Dodgers Rivalry
There are rivalries, and then there are Rivalries. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers fall squarely into the capital "R" category.
The rivalry has spanned coasts, generations and centuries. And like any long-term relationship, it has featured more than its share of memorable moments.
As we continue with B/R's Rivalry Week, let's examine some of the most unforgettable episodes in the history of these historic, intertwined franchises.
There will be pivotal home runs. There will be tight postseason races. There will be brawls. And, as ever, there will be the Orange and Black against the Blue.
The 1957 Move West
This one didn't happen on a baseball field, but it was as big as any game, series or season. On May 28, 1957, National League owners voted to allow the Giants and Dodgers to pack their bats and balls and move from New York to the West Coast. The vote was contingent on the two clubs moving together; one would not have been allowed to relocate without the other.
The Giants went from the Polo Grounds in Manhattan to Seals Stadium in San Francisco's Mission District. The Dodgers ditched the cozy confines of Brooklyn's Ebbets Field for the 100,000-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Giants later moved to Candlestick Park and then to the waterfront yard now known as Oracle Park, while the Dodgers settled at Dodger Stadium adjacent to Chavez Ravine.
Without this simultaneous cross-country trek, the rivalry might have fizzled. Instead, it opened a whole new chapter in Giants-Dodgers lore.
Barry Bonds vs. Eric Gagne
Let's get the performance-enhancing drug stuff out of the way. Giants left fielder Barry Bonds and Dodgers closer Eric Gagne were both linked to PEDs. Attach asterisks to their achievements if you want.
But as hitter-pitcher battles go, you can't get much better than this one.
On April 16, 2004, Bonds stepped to the plate against Gagne with a runner on first and the Giants trailing 3-0. Gagne was the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, a rare feat for a relief pitcher. Bonds was the reigning NL MVP.
Both players brought their A-game. Gagne pumped heat bordering on triple digits. Bonds worked the count after falling behind 0-2, drawing two balls and fouling off two pitches, including one that landed in the water wide of the right-field foul pole.
Then, on a 2-2 heater, Bonds slammed one into the center field seats, and the San Francisco crowd erupted.
"I'm not sure which guy is from the other planet, but that was incredible," Giants color commentator Mike Krukow exclaimed as Bonds rounded the bases.
The Giants lost, 3-2. But that was merely a footnote to one of the most impressive displays of power vs. power we're ever likely to see.
Madison Bumgarner vs. Yasiel Puig
This is actually a series of moments that encapsulate a contentious rivalry within a rivalry between former Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner and former Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig.
It started May 9, 2014, when Puig hit a home run off Bumgarner and flipped his bat. Bumgarner took issue and had words with Puig, though he claimed in postgame remarks he was simply congratulating Puig on his "really good hit."
On Sept. 23 of the same year, Bumgarner hit Puig with a pitch, and Puig yelled at Bumgarner, though the two were separated well before they came to blows. Later in the game, Bumgarner launched a home run over Puig's head in left-center field and pumped his fist.
The feud reared its head again Sept. 19, 2016, when Puig grounded out to Bumgarner. After the play, the pair locked eyes, and Bumgarner appeared to say, "Don't look at me."
Puig and his teammates then had some antagonistic fun by printing #DontLookAtMe T-shirts.
Now, Bumgarner is a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Puig is a free agent who has been linked to the Giants, including by Francys Romero. Puig in San Francisco would be an intriguing twist indeed.
Juan Marichal vs. John Roseboro
On Aug. 22, 1965, the Dodgers and Giants met at Candlestick Park. The pitching matchup was top-notch, with future Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal squaring off. But the game will be remembered for what Marichal did with a bat in his hands.
After Marichal threw a high-and-in fastball that knocked down Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills, Koufax responded by throwing one over Giants center fielder Willie Mays' head. Marichal then threw inside to Dodgers right fielder Ron Fairly, and both benches were warned.
When Marichal came to bat in the bottom of the third, Dodgers catcher John Roseboro buzzed the Giants pitcher's head with a return throw to the mound. Marichal wheeled around, the two players began shouting, and Marichal clubbed Roseboro in the head with his bat. A brawl, predictably, ensued.
Roseboro required 14 stitches, and Marichal was suspended for eight game days and fined $1,750, the highest allowable amount at the time, per ESPN's Jim Caple.
Years later, the pair buried the hatchet.
"There were no hard feelings on my part, and I thought if that was made public, people would believe that this was really over with," Roseboro said in 1990, per Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. "So I saw him at a Dodger old-timers' game and we posed for pictures together and I actually visited him in the Dominican."
Added the former Dodgers backstop, "Hey, over the years, you learn to forget things."
That may be true. But it's safe to say this incident remains seared in the memories of Dodgers and Giants fans alike.
Brian Johnson's Pivotal Home Run
In 1997, the Dodgers had a hefty payroll and a roster stacked with talent (sound familiar?). Over the previous five seasons, they'd had five players win NL Rookie of the Year honors.
The Giants, meanwhile, were coming off a 94-loss campaign and had traded All-Star third baseman Matt Williams in November.
Yet despite finishing the '97 season with a minus-nine run differential, the Giants won the NL West.
The emotional turning point came Sept. 18 at Candlestick Park. The Giants entered trailing the Dodgers by one game. In the bottom of the 12th inning, catcher Brian Johnson stepped to the plate.
Acquired in a little-regarded July trade with the Detroit Tigers, Johnson wasn't the likeliest hero. But he played the role that day, launching a walk-off blast that moved San Francisco into a first-place tie and gave it enough momentum to win the West by two games over Los Angeles.
The 1982 Race
After winning the NL West in 1971, the Giants went 16 seasons before making it back to the playoffs. In 1982, however, they got to play spoilers to the Dodgers in exciting fashion.
In the final game of the '82 campaign, the Dodgers faced the Giants at Candlestick Park, needing a win to tie the Atlanta Braves for the division lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the score tied 2-2, the Giants put two runners on for veteran second baseman and future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.
The 39-year-old Morgan was past his prime, but he came up big with a two-out, three-run homer to put San Francisco up.
The Giants won 5-3 and dashed L.A.'s playoff hopes—the next best thing to making the dance themselves.
The 1993 Race
In 1992, the Giants were on the verge of moving from the City by the Bay to St. Petersburg, Florida. An eleventh-hour intervention by an ownership group led by Peter Magowan saved the team for San Francisco.
The Giants promptly signed Barry Bonds, hired rookie manager Dusty Baker and morphed into a contender. Unfortunately for San Francisco, their magical 1993 run ended in bitter disappointment at the hands of the Dodgers.
Entering the season's final day, the Giants had won an impressive 103 games. But they needed one more to tie the 104-win Braves and force a one-game playoff for the division crown.
The Dodgers had other plans. Los Angeles teed off on first-year right-hander Salomon Torres and a parade of Giants relievers, cruising to a 12-1 victory.
Despite finishing with the second-best record in baseball, the Giants missed the postseason. To add insult to injury, MLB instituted the wild card the following year.
Steve Finley's Grand Slam
On Oct. 2, 2004, the Dodgers and Giants met on the season's penultimate day. Los Angeles owned a two-game lead over San Francisco and needed just one win to clinch the NL West.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, San Francisco held a 3-0 edge. With one out, the Dodgers cut the gap to 3-2 on a bases-load walk and an error. Left fielder Jayson Werth then singled home the tying run.
That brought up center fielder Steve Finley, whom the Dodgers had acquired from the Diamondbacks that July.
After falling behind 0-1 to Giants reliever Wayne Franklin, the 39-year-old Finley launched one into the right field seats and sent L.A. to the postseason.
"I was dreaming about it, and it happened," Finley told reporters after the game. "I wanted it. I knew I was going to get it done. When I walked to the plate, I knew the game was over. I even had a smile on my face, if I remember."
So did Dodgers nation.
Barry Bonds Sets Single-Season Home Run Record
In 2001, Barry Bonds broke Mark McGwire's single-season home run record. The accomplishment came in the wake of 9/11 and under a cloud of PED suspicion. Needless to say, it wasn't universally celebrated.
Still, it was a historic day when Bonds launched home run No. 71 to pass McGwire and claim an MLB record that might stand for a long, long time.
Befitting the rivalry, Bonds hit his 71st dinger at home against the Dodgers.
It came in the first inning off right-hander Chan Ho Park, and Bonds rounded the bases to fireworks and a flashing "71" on the scoreboard. He added an exclamation mark by hitting No. 72 off Park in the third inning.
Bonds extended the record to 73 two days later off Dodgers righty Dennis Springer, forever joining Los Angeles (however begrudgingly) to one of professional sports' most impressive and controversial achievements.
The 1962 Three-Game Playoff
The Giants and Dodgers have never met in the postseason, but they have played a pair of best-of-three series to break ties atop the NL. While those games counted in the regular-season standings, they were imbued with electric playoff atmospheres.
One of them came in 1962 when San Francisco and Los Angeles finished with 101-61 records. The Giants defeated ace Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers 8-0 in the opener of the tiebreaker series. Los Angeles came back to win Game 2, 8-7, on a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth by Ron Fairly.
That set up Game 3, which the Giants won in come-from-behind fashion, 6-4, by scoring four runs in the top of the ninth inning.
It proved to be the high point of the season for San Francisco, which lost the Fall Classic in seven games to the New York Yankees.
The Shot Heard 'Round the World
The other best-of-three tiebreaker playoff between the Giants and Dodgers ended on one of the most famous home runs in baseball history.
On Aug. 11, 1951, the Dodgers held a commanding 13-game lead in the NL. But New York went on a late-season tear as Brooklyn piled up losses, and the two clubs finished tied atop the Senior Circuit.
The Giants won Game 1, 3-1 at Ebbets Field. The Dodgers returned the favor in Game 2 at the Polo Grounds with a 10-0 blowout.
In Game 3, also held at the Polo Grounds, the Dodgers took a 4-1 lead with three runs in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants rallied with two singles and a double to make it 4-2 and bring third baseman Bobby Thomson to the plate.
Thomson connected on an 0-1 fastball from Brooklyn right-hander Ralph Branca, smashing a line-drive home run over the left field fence, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and prompting Giants announcer Russ Hodges to make his iconic call: "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"
As in '62, the Giants lost the World Series to the Yankees. But nearly 70 years later, Thomson's homer remains the signature moment in one of the game's greatest, most enduring rivalries.