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Giants-Dodgers Covers a Lot of Ground

Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page H05

The Dodgers-Giants rivalry is one for the ages. And the distances.

These two first went at it in 1889, specifically on Friday, Oct. 18, when the New York Giants of the National League met the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the American Association in Game 1 of an early version of the World Series. The Giants won six of the nine games, and the teams have been at it ever since.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal (27) swings a bat at Los Angeles Dodgers catcher John Roseboro as Sandy Koufax tries to intervene during a game at Candlestick Park in 1965. Roseboro needed 14 stitches after being hit in the head. (Robert H. Houston -- AP)

The Giants were the favorites of Manhattan, and some of the team's supporters looked down on the recent immigrants who made up part of the Brooklyn fan base. Indeed, Brooklyn got its moniker from Giants fans who derisively referred to their rival's fans as Trolley Dodgers.

The rivalry got a jolt of bitterness in 1914, when Wilbert Robinson, recently fired as a Giants coach, was hired to manage Brooklyn. The man who fired him was Giants Manager John McGraw, ending a 22-year friendship that began when they were Baltimore Orioles teammates. The Giants' Little Napoleon and the Dodgers' Uncle Wilbert went at it tooth and nail through the 1931 season.

Bill Terry did a lot to help the Giants over the years, hitting .341 in a Hall of Fame playing career and winning three pennants as a manager. But in 1934, he did them a little harm. Coming off a World Series championship in 1933, Terry said of the Dodgers: "Brooklyn? Are they still in the league?" The Dodgers took umbrage, and waited for their chance to shove the words down Terry's throat. Sure enough, the Giants went up against the Dodgers in the final weekend of the season and lost two games, thereby finishing two games behind the Gashouse Gang Cardinals for the NL title.

Another manager figured prominently in the rivalry in 1948. Brooklyn's Leo Durocher was fired by Branch Rickey midway through the season (his ninth as the Dodgers' skipper), and was quickly hired by the Giants, a sequence of events that shocked fans of both teams. The Dodgers had been the more successful franchise over the previous 10 years, but it took Durocher and the Giants only a few seasons to catch up, just until 1951.

The Shot Heard 'Round the World, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca. It is one of the storied moments in baseball history. The game-ending home run sent the Giants to the World Series as the winner of a three-game playoff for the NL pennant, after the Dodgers had held a 13 1/2 game lead in August.

Although Wilbert Robinson was willing to change sides, Jackie Robinson was not. Traded from Brooklyn to New York after the 1956 season, he opted to retire and the trade was negated.

After the 1957 season, a couple of big moves did go through. The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, and the New York Giants moved to San Francisco. The rivalry had crossed the continent.

Eleven years after the playoff ended by Thomson, the teams had another three-game set to determine the 1962 NL champion. Again, the Giants had rallied to catch the Dodgers, this time overcoming a four-game deficit with seven games to play. Again, the Giants won the playoff, this time scoring four runs in the ninth inning of Game 3 to win, 6-4.

The Dodgers and Giants have had many bitter moments, and one very bloody one. That came on Aug. 22, 1965. While batting in the third inning, Giants ace Juan Marichal felt that catcher John Roseboro's throws to pitcher Sandy Koufax were coming too close to his head. He also felt it was intentional, a response to Marichal knocking down a Giants hitter.

Marichal said something to Roseboro. Roseboro stood up and removed his mask. Marichal hit Roseboro on the head with his bat. The brawl lasted 14 minutes, and Roseboro needed 14 stitches to close a gash. Marichal's suspension cost him only two starts, but the Dodgers beat out the Giants for the pennant -- by two games.

It was the ugliest moment in the rivalry -- so far.

-- Donald Beard

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