Los Angeles Dodgers

Fri, 07 Nov 2008 19:54

The history of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Information about the MLB team Los Angeles Dodgers.

Based in Los Angeles, the LA Dodgers are a Major League Baseball team that was established in 1883. They belong to the National League’s Western Division. They were originally based in Brooklyn but later on moved to Los Angeles in 1958

The LA Dodgers in the 1950s

Walter O’Malley was the majority owner of the Dodgers back in the 50s, while the team was still in Brooklyn. As such, he sought to get a better ballpark for the team than Ebbets Field, where the team was then based. Ebbets Field had become dilapidated and this was affecting ticket sales.

However, the Construction Coordinator of New York Robert Moses wanted to force a site in Flushing Meadows, Queens (now the site of Shea Stadium) instead. At the same time, Moses envisioned a city-owned park, which went against what O’Malley wanted.

By 1956, when it was becoming apparent that Moses would not budge from his position, O’Malley sent a letter of intent to Los Angeles officials, who were shopping around for major league teams back then. Their original target was the Washington Senators but with talks ongoing, they eventually came to an agreement with the Dodgers owner.

Oddly, alongside the Dodgers' transfer to Los Angeles was the move of their long-time rival the Giants to San Francisco. This ensured the continued fierce competition between the two teams.

The Dodgers played their last game as a New York team on September 24, 1957. By April 18, 1958, they were the Los Angeles Dodgers and played their first game against their long-time rivals the Giants (now the San Francisco Giants). The LA Dodgers won 6-5. Although this seemed like a good start for the season, they finished with a disappointing 71-83 record.

In 1959, the LA Dodgers had powerful batters in Duke Snider and Gil Hodges. Don Drysdale was their pitching powerhouse. Toward the end of the season, Roger Craig would step in and help the team snag key games. The LA Dodgers were able to tie for first place, at 86-68, with the Milwaukee Braves. At the 1959 playoffs, they won their first West Coast pennant and would soon face the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.

At the World Series, they were first met with an 11-0 loss against the White Sox. They rallied in the second series game with homers by Charlie Neal and Chuck Essegian. Larry Sherry later came on and held on to the lead. This tied the series 1-1. For game 3, they played in front of 92,294 people and won again. The clincher was game 4, where Gil Hodges hit a home run in the 8th inning. The LA Dodgers won the World Series with 9-3 and Larry Sherry was World Series MVP.

The LA Dodgers in the 1960s

In 1960 and 1961, the LA Dodgers failed to make it to the NL Pennant playoffs. They were down by 13 games in 1960, while they lacked four games in 1961.

By 1962, O’Malleys stadium was finally ready, aptly named The Dodgers Stadium. It was also that year when player Jackie Robinson became the first black player to make it to the hall of fame. The Dodgers played a great series in their stadium. They were led by Maury Wills, who was to be the first player in the 20th century history to steal 100 bases in one season. Together with key players like Don Drysdale, they made it to the pennant playoffs against their rival the San Francisco Giants. The teams split the first two games. Unfortunately, the Dodgers lost on the fifth game, with a bases-loaded walk.

The LA Dodgers made it to the World Series in 1963, this time against the venerable New York Yankees. Pitcher Sandy Koufax was the key player for the series – he would later be named Player of the Decade and receive three Cy Young Awards and several Most Valuable Player awards. The Yankees won the series, although against a very forceful Dodgers.

The year 1964 was dismal with some key players out because of injuries. The Dodgers went back into great playing games in 1965, winning the World Series against the Minnesota Twins – this, even when Koufax refused to play during game one because it was the Yom Kippur holy day. In 1966, the Dodgers won the pennant but failed to snag the World Series from newbies Baltimore Orioles. It was on winter that year when Koufax retired because of arthritis in his pitching arm’s elbow. Maury Wills was also traded, leading to a dismal 1967 series. It was somehow the same in 1968, even when Don Drysdale was still effective in his game. Drysdale would also soon retire. 1969 was better for the team with Rookie of the Year EB Ted Sizemore. The LA Dodgers finished fourth in the struggle for the pennant.

The LA Dodgers in the 1970s

The Dodgers failed to make the playoffs from 1970 to 1973. They faced the Giants again in 1971 for the NL Wet pennant and struggled to the bitter end, only to lose by one game. Likewise, in 1973, they were in the NL West pennant playoffs again, this time against the Cincinnati Reds. They lost with a commendable 95-66 record.

In 1974, they met the Reds again and came out as winners with a 102-60 record. The LA Dodgers were led by 1B Steve Garvey, pitcher Mike Marshall (who earned the CY Young Award that year) and OF Jimmy Wynn. They vied against the Oakland Athletics at the World Series, losing to them in five games.

In 1976, Dodgers Manager Walter Alston retired from the team, after 23 years. He was to be replaced by Tommy Lasorda, who would then stay on the team for 20 seasons.

The year 1977 was the first full year with Lasorda as manager. This was also the year that Dodgers made history with 30 or more home runs by their team members: 33 by Steve Garvey, 32 by Reggie Smith, 30 by Ron Cey, and 30 by Dusty Baker. They won the NLCS title to make it to the World Series and face the New York Yankees again. They lost to the Yankees in game six. They faced the Yankees again in the World Series of 1978. And again, the Dodgers would lose after six games.

The LA Dodgers: 1980s

The 80s was the time when Fernando Valenzuela took baseball by storm – the craze then was known as Fernandomania. Valenzuela won the Cy Young award as well as Rookie of the Year in 1981. He also led the Dodgers in another World Series face-off against the New York Yankees, the third time within five years. This time around, they came off victorious, winning games three to six of the series. The Dodgers also made another baseball history with a tri-MVP win for players Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, and Steve Yeager.  

The rest of the decade was a struggle for the LA Dodgers. It had to contend with injuries and losing players to free agent deals. They had a pretty good showing in 1985 but failed to make it to the World Series after losing to the St. Louis Cardinals.

This changed in 1988, when they signed Kirk Gibson. Gibson rallied the team to win the NLCS against the New York Mets. By the last game of the playoffs, the Mets were blanked at 6-0 by Orel Hershiser, who won MVP for that year’s NLCS playoffs.

However, as they entered the World Series, it was apparent that they needed to play without Gibson, who by then suffered from two bad knees and could barely walk. They were up against the Oakland Athletics this time. In the crucial ninth inning of the last game, Gibson convinced Lasorda to let him bat. While he grimaced with pain on the first pitch, he hit the second ball with so much power to win the game by 5-4.

LA Dodgers: The 1990s till today

Since the 1988 win, the Dodgers would not get to the World Series again until 2004. The 1990s were marked with rookie players and the retirement of long-time manager Lasorda. Lasorda was replaced by Bill Russell, who was a Dodgers shortstop. O’Malley would also sell the team to the Rupert Murdoch News Corporation (owner of Fox Network). Russell was replaced by the new owners with Davey Johnson, and then Jim Tracey.  It was only in 2000 when the team reached some stability. In the 2004 World Series, they faced and lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.