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Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers are a Major League Baseball team based in Los Angeles, California, USA. The team is in the Western Division of the National League. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known as the Brooklyn Dodgers, before moving to Los Angeles before the 1958 season. The Dodgers are the current National League West champions.

Team History

Early Brooklyn baseball

Brooklyn was home to numerous baseball clubs in the mid-1850s. Eight of 16 participants in the first convention were from Brooklyn, including the Atlantic, Eckford and Excelsior clubs that combined to dominate play for most of the 1860s. Brooklyn helped make baseball commercial, as the locale of the first paid admission games, a series of three all star contests matching New York and Brooklyn in 1858. Brooklyn also featured the first two enclosed baseball grounds, the Union Grounds and the Capitoline Grounds; enclosed, dedicated ballparks accelerated the evolution from amateurism to professionalism.

Despite the success of Brooklyn clubs in the first Association, officially amateur until 1869, they fielded weak teams in the succeeding National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, the first professional league formed in 1871. The Excelsiors no longer challenged for the amateur championship after the war and never entered the professional NA. The Eckfords and Atlantics declined to join until 1872 and thereby lost their best players; Eckford survived only one season and Atlantic four, with losing teams.

The National League replaced the NA in 1876 and granted exclusive territories to its eight members, excluding the Atlantics in favor of the New York Mutuals who had shared the same home grounds. When the Mutuals were expelled by the League, the Hartford Dark Blues club moved in, changed its name to The Brooklyn Hartfords and played its home games at Union Grounds in 1877 before disbanding. They were also the Brooklyn Superbas during the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Rivalry with the Giants

The historic and heated rivalry between the Dodgers and the Giants is more than a century old, and is the longest rivalry in baseball history, having begun when both clubs played in New York City (the Dodgers in Brooklyn and the Giants in Manhattan). When both franchises moved to California in 1958, the rivalry was easily transplanted with them, as the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have long been rivals in economic, cultural, and political arenas throughout the history of the State of California.

“Uncle Robbie” and the “Daffiness Boys”

Manager Wilbert Robinson, another former Oriole, popularly known as “Uncle Robbie,” restored the Brooklyn team to respectability, with his “Brooklyn Robins” winning pennants to reach the 1916 and 1920 World Series, losing both, but contending perennially for several seasons. Charles Ebbetts and Ed McKeever died within a week in 1925, and Robbie was named president while still field manager. Upon assuming the title of president, however, Robinson’s ability to focus on the field declined, and the teams of the late 1920s were often fondly referred to as the “Daffiness Boys” for their distracted, error-ridden style of play. Outfielder Babe Herman was the leader both in hitting and in zaniness. After his removal as club president, Robinson returned to managing, and the club’s performance rebounded somewhat.

When Robinson retired in 1931, he was replaced as manager by Max Carey. Although some suggested renaming the "Robins" the "Brooklyn Canaries," after Carey (whose last name was originally "Carnarius"), the name "Brooklyn Dodgers" returned to stay following Robinson's retirement. It was during this era that Willard Mullin, a noted sports cartoonist, fixed the Brooklyn team with the lovable nickname of “Dem Bums.” After hearing his cab driver ask "So how did those bums do today?" Mullin decided to sketch an exaggerated version of famed circus clown Emmett Kelly to represent the Dodgers in his much-praised cartoons in the New York World-Telegram. Both the image and the nickname caught on, so much so that many a Dodger yearbook cover, from 1951 through 1957, featured a Willard Mullin illustration with the Brooklyn Bum.

Perhaps the highlight of the Daffiness Boys era came after Wilbert Robinson had left the dugout. In 1934, Giants player/manager Bill Terry was asked about the Dodgers’ chances in the coming pennant race and cracked infamously, “Is Brooklyn still in the league?” Managed now by Casey Stengel (who played for the Dodgers in the 1910s and would go on to greatness managing the New York Yankees), the 1934 Dodgers were determined to make their presence felt. As it happened, the season ended with the Giants tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the pennant, with the Giants’ remaining games against the Dodgers. Stengel led his Bums to the Polo Grounds for the showdown and they beat the Giants twice to knock them out of the pennant race. The “Gashouse Gang” Cardinals nailed the pennant by beating the Cincinnati Reds those same two days.

One key development during this era was the 1938 appointment of Leland Stanford MacPhail — better known as Larry MacPhail — as the Dodgers' general manager. MacPhail, who brought night baseball to MLB as general manager of the Reds, also introduced Brooklyn to night baseball and ordered the successful refurbishing of Ebbets Field. He also brought Reds voice Red Barber to Brooklyn as the Dodgers' lead announcer in 1939, just after MacPhail broke the New York baseball executives' agreement to ban live baseball broadcasts, enacted because of the fear of what effect the radio calls would have on the home teams' attendance.

MacPhail remained with the Dodgers until 1942, when he returned to the Armed Forces for World War II. (He later became one of the New York Yankees' co-owners, bidding unsuccessfully for Barber to join him in the Bronx as announcer.) MacPhail's surviving son Leland Jr. (Lee MacPhail) and surviving grandson Andy MacPhail also became MLB execs.

The first major-league baseball game to be televised was Brooklyn’s 6-1 victory over Cincinnati at Ebbets Field on August 26, 1939. Batting helmets were introduced to Major League Baseball by the Dodgers in 1941.

Breaking the color barrier

For most of the first half of the 20th century, no Major League Baseball team employed an African American player. A parallel system of Negro Leagues developed, but most of the Negro League players were denied a chance to prove their skill before a national audience. Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play for a Major League Baseball team when he played his first major league game on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It happened mainly due to General Manager Branch Rickey's efforts. The deeply religious Rickey's motivation appears to have been primarily moral although business considerations were also present. Rickey was a member of The Methodist Church, the antecedent denomination to The United Methodist Church of today, which was a strong advocate for social justice and active later in the Civil Rights movement. (The New York Times: "Branch Rickey, 83, Dies in Missouri". .)

This event was the harbinger of the integration of sports in the United States, the concomitant demise of the Negro Leagues, and is regarded as a key moment in the history of the American Civil Rights movement. Robinson was an exceptional player, a speedy runner who sparked the whole team with his intensity, and was given the inaugural Rookie of the Year award, which is now named the Jackie Robinson award in his honor. Robinson would eventually go on to become the first African-American elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

“Wait ’til next year!”

After the wilderness years of the 1920s and 1930s, the Dodgers were rebuilt into a contending club first by general manager Larry MacPhail and then the legendary Branch Rickey. Led by Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges in the infield, Duke Snider in center field, Roy Campanella behind the plate, and Don Newcombe on the pitcher's mound, the Dodgers won pennants in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953, only to fall to the New York Yankees in all five of the subsequent World Series. The annual ritual of building excitement, followed in the end by disappointment, became a common pattern to the long suffering fans, and “Wait ’til next year!” became an unofficial Dodger slogan.

While the Dodgers generally enjoyed some success during this period, in 1951 they fell victim to one of the largest collapses in the history of baseball. On August 11, Brooklyn led the National League by an enormous 13½ games over their archrivals, the Giants. However, while the Dodgers went 26-22 from that time until the end of the season, the Giants went on an absolute tear, winning an amazing 37 of their last 44 games, including their last seven in a row. At the conclusion of the season, the Dodgers and the Giants were tied for first place, forcing a three-game playoff for the pennant. The Giants took Game 1 by a score of 3-1 before being shut out by the Dodgers' Clem Labine in Game 2, 10-0. It all came down to the final game, and Brooklyn seemed to have the pennant locked up, holding a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. However, Giants third baseman Bobby Thomson hit a stunning three-run walk-off home run off the Dodgers' Ralph Branca to secure the NL Championship for New York. Today, this home run is known as the Shot Heard 'Round The World.

In 1955, by which time the core of the Dodger team was beginning to age, “next year” finally came. The fabled “Boys of Summer” shot down the "Bronx Bombers" in seven games, led by the first-class pitching of young left-hander Johnny Podres, whose key pitch was a changeup known as “pulling down the lampshade” because of the arm motion used right when the ball was released. Podres won two Series games, including the deciding seventh. The turning point of Game 7 was a spectacular double play that began with left fielder Sandy Amoros running down Yogi Berra’s long fly, then throwing to shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who doubled up a surprised Gil McDougald at first base to preserve the Dodger lead. The Dodgers won 2-0.

Although the Dodgers lost the World Series to the Yankees in 1956 (during which the Yankees pitcher Don Larsen pitched the only postseason perfect game in baseball history), it hardly seemed to matter. Brooklyn fans had their memory of triumph, and soon that would be all they were left with – a victory that decades later would be remembered in the Billy Joel single "We Didn't Start the Fire," which included the line, "Brooklyn's got a winning team."

Move to California

Real estate businessman Walter O'Malley had acquired majority ownership of the Dodgers in 1950, when he bought the shares of his co-owners, the estate of the late John L. Smith and Branch Rickey. Before long he was working to buy new land in Brooklyn to build a more accessible and better arrayed ballpark than Ebbets Field. Beloved as it was, Ebbets Field had grown old and was not well served by infrastructure, to the point where the Dodgers could not sell the park out even in the heat of a pennant race (despite largely dominating the league from 1946 to 1957).

New York City Construction Coordinator Robert Moses, however, sought to force O'Malley into using a site in Flushing Meadows, Queens – the site for what eventually became Shea Stadium. Moses' vision involved a city-built, city-owned park, which was greatly at odds with O'Malley's real-estate savvy. When it became clear to O'Malley that he was not going to be allowed to buy any suitable land in Brooklyn, he began thinking elsewhere.

Meanwhile, non-stop transcontinental air travel had become routine during the years since the Second World War, and teams were no longer bound by much slower railroad timetables. Because of these transportation advances, it became possible to locate teams further apart – as far west as California – while maintaining the same game schedules.

When Los Angeles officials attended the 1956 World Series looking to entice a team to move to the City of Angels, they were not even thinking of the Dodgers. Their original target had been the Washington Senators (who would in fact move to Bloomington, Minnesota to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961). At the same time, O'Malley was looking for a contingency in case Moses and other New York politicians refused to let him build the Brooklyn stadium he wanted, and sent word to the Los Angeles officials that he was interested in talking. Los Angeles offered him what New York would not: a chance to buy land suitable for building a ballpark, and own that ballpark, giving him complete control over all its revenue streams.

Meanwhile, Giants owner Horace Stoneham was having similar difficulty finding a replacement for his team's antiquated home stadium, the Polo Grounds. Stoneham was considering moving the Giants to Minneapolis, but was persuaded instead to move them to San Francisco, ensuring that the Dodgers would have a National League rival closer than St. Louis. So the two arch-rival teams, the Dodgers and Giants, moved out to the West Coast together after the 1957 season.

The Brooklyn Dodgers played their final game at Ebbets Field on September 24, 1957, which the Dodgers won 2-0 over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On April 18, 1958, the Los Angeles Dodgers played their first game in LA, defeating the former New York and now new San Francisco Giants, 6-5, before 78,672 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

A 2007 HBO film, Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush, is a documentary covering the Dodgers history from early days to the beginning of the Los Angeles era.

New start

The process of building Walter O'Malley's dream stadium soon began in semi-rural Chavez Ravine, in the hills just north of downtown L.A. There was some political controversy, as the residents of the ravine, mostly Hispanic and mostly poor, resisted the eminent domain removal of their homes (land which had been previously condemned for a public housing project, Elysian Park Heights) and gained some public sympathy. Still, O'Malley and the city government were determined, and construction proceeded. The resistance of the residents against their removal was known as the Battle of Chavez Ravine. In the meantime, the Dodgers played their home games from 1958 to 1961 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a gargantuan football and track-and-field stadium that had been built built in 1923, and then expanded to host the 1932 Summer Olympics. The Coliseum's dimensions were not optimal for baseball, and the best way to fit a baseball diamond into the oval-shaped stadium was to lay the third-base line parallel to the short axis of the oval, and the first-base parallel to the long axis. This resulted in a left-field fence that was only about 250 feet from home plate. A 40-foot high screen was erected to prevent home runs from becoming too trivial to hit. Still, the 1958 season saw 182 home runs hit to left field in the home games, whereas just three were hit to center field, and only eight to right field. The Dodgers outfielder Wally Moon, newly acquired for the 1959 season, became adept at launching lazy fly balls over or onto the screen, which became known as "Moon shots." He lead the National League with triples in 1959.

In 1959, the season ended in a tie between the Dodgers and the Milwaukee Braves. The Dodgers won the tie-breaking playoff. 1959 also saw a team other than the Yankees win the A.L. pennant, one of only two such years in the 16-year stretch from 1949 through 1964. In a lively World Series, the Dodgers defeated the "Go-Go" White Sox in six games, thoroughly cementing the bond between the baseball team and its new Southern California fans.

Commemorating its 50th year in Los Angeles, the Dodgers team again played one more game in the Memorial Coliseum on March 29, 2008 - an exhibition game to benefit a cancer research charity. The crowd of 115,300, the largest in baseball history in any country, any league, saw the Dodgers lose to the Boston Red Sox by a score of 7 - 4. Due to intervening renovations, the Coliseum's left field corner was shortened to only 190 feet, calling for an even-taller left-field fence of 60 feet. Kevin Cash of the Red Sox and James Loney of the Dodgers did hit home runs over that fence, but there were unexpectedly-few home runs in the game.

Despite the passage of 50 plus years since departing from Brooklyn, many in the borough, and the nation, continue efforts to encourage a move back east. Many of these efforts take the shape of letter writing campaigns, online petitions and nostalgic articles. Brooklyn Dodgers merchandise is still popular among fans as well. Major League Baseball estimates $9 million in sales every year. The Baseball Hall of Fame reports that Brooklyn photos and broadcasts are the museum's second biggest sellers behind the Yankees, Ebay lists close to 1,000 items a day relating to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the Library of Congress has over 100 books on Brooklyn Dodger teams, third only to the Yankees and Red Sox.

The 1960s: Pitching, defense, and speed

Construction on Dodger Stadium was completed in time for Opening Day 1962. With its clean, simple lines and its picturesque setting amid hills and palm trees, the ballpark quickly became an icon of the Dodgers and their new California lifestyle, and it remains one of the most highly-regarded stadiums in baseball even today. Despite the fact that the Dodgers have played in Dodger Stadium longer than they had played in Ebbett's Field, the stadium remains surprisingly fresh. O'Malley was determined that there would not be a bad seat in the house, achieving this by cantilevered grandstands that have since been widely imitated. More importantly for the team, the stadium's spacious dimensions, along with other factors, gave defense an advantage over offense, and the Dodgers moved to take advantage of this by assembling a team that would excel with its pitching.

The core of the team's success in the 1960s was the dominant pitching tandem of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, who combined to win 4 of the 5 Cy Young Awards from 1962 to 1966, during a time in which only one award was given to the top pitcher from either of the two major leagues. Top pitching also came from Claude Osteen, an aging Johnny Podres, and reliever Ron Perranoski. The hitting attack, on the other hand, was not impressive, and much of the offensive spark came from the exploits of speedy shortstop Maury Wills, who led the league in stolen bases every year from 1960 to 1965, and set a modern record with 104 thefts in 1962. The Dodgers' strategy was once described as follows: "Wills hits a single, steals second, and takes third on a grounder. A sacrifice fly brings him home. Koufax or Drysdale pitches a shutout, and the Dodgers win 1-0." Although few games followed this model exactly, the Dodgers nevertheless tallied a high proportion of wins in a low-scoring manner that relied on their pitching and defense rather than their offense - with the exception of a few seasons. For example, in 1962, Tommy Davis lead the Major Leagues with 153 RBI, and he lead the National League in batting average and in hits. Seasons of over 150 RBI are quite rare by a player in modern-day pro baseball. Davis led the league in batting twice for the Dodgers.

The 1962 pennant race ended in a tie, and the Dodgers were defeated by the archrival Giants in the tie-breaking playoff, but the Dodgers proceeded to win the pennant in three of the next four years. The 1963 World Series was a four-game sweep of the Yankees, in which the Dodgers were so dominant that the vaunted Bronx Bombers never even took a lead against Koufax, Podres, and Drysdale. After an injury-plagued 1964, the Dodgers bounced back to win the 1965 World Series in a seven games against the Minnesota Twins. Game one happened to fall on the Yom Kippur holy day, and Koufax (who is Jewish) refused to pitch on that day, a decision for which he was widely praised. The Dodgers rebounded from losing the first two games, with Koufax pitching shutouts in Games five and seven (with only two days rest in between) to win the crown and the World Series MVP Award.

The Dodgers again won the pennant in 1966, but the team was running out of gas, and it was swept in the World Series by the upstart Baltimore Orioles. Koufax retired that winter, with his career cut short by arthritis in the elbow of his pitching arm, and Maury Wills was traded away. Don Drysdale continued to be effective, setting a record with six consecutive shutouts in 1968, but he finished with just a 14 - 12 record due to the Dodgers' poor hitting that year.

While the Dodgers were sub-par for several seasons thereafter, a new core of young talent was developing in their farm system. They won another pennant in 1974, and although they were quickly dismissed by the dynastic Oakland Athletics in the World Series, it was a sign of good things to come.

The late 1970s: The early Lasorda years

For 23 years, beginning in 1954, the Dodgers had been managed by Walter Alston, a quiet and unflappable man who commanded great respect from his players. Alston's tenure is the third-longest in baseball history for a manager with a single team, after Connie Mack and John McGraw. His retirement near the end of the 1976 season, after winning 7 pennants and 4 World Series titles over his career, cleared the way for an entirely different personality to take the helm of the Dodgers.

Tommy Lasorda was a 49-year-old former minor-league pitcher who had been the team's top coach under Alston, and before that had been manager of the Dodgers' top minor league team. He was colorful and gregarious, an enthusiastic cheerleader in contrast to Alston's taciturn demeanor. He quickly became a larger-than-life personality, associating with Frank Sinatra and other celebrities, with a penchant for eating Italian food in large volumes. He became well-known for sayings such as, "If you cut me, I bleed Dodger blue," and for referring to God as "the Great Dodger in the sky." Although some considered his persona to be a schtick and found it wearing, his enthusiasm won him a reputation as an "ambassador for baseball," and it is impossible to think of the Dodgers from the late '70s to the early '90s without thinking of Lasorda.

Another transition had recently occurred, higher up in the Dodgers management. Walter O'Malley passed control of the team to his son Peter, who would continue to oversee the Dodgers on his family's behalf through 1998.

New blood had also been injected into the team on the field. The core of the team was now the infield, composed of Steve Garvey (1B), Davey Lopes (2B), Bill Russell (SS), and Ron Cey (3B). These four remained in the starting lineup together from 1973 to 1981, longer than any other infield foursome in baseball history. The pitching staff remained strong, anchored by Don Sutton and Tommy John. The Dodgers won NL West titles in both 1977 and 1978, and defeated the Philadelphia Phillies both years in the National League Championship Series, only to be defeated in the World Series both years by the Yankees. In 1980, they swept a three game series from the Houston Astros in the final weekend of the regular season (including Don Sutton's brilliant save) and were in a first place tie in the National League West, but lost to the Astros 7-1 in the one-game playoff.

The 1980s: Fernandomania and the Bulldog

The Opening Day starting pitcher for 1981 was a 20-year-old rookie from Mexico: Fernando Valenzuela. Pressed into service due to an injury to Jerry Reuss, Valenzuela pitched a shutout that day, and proceeded to win his first 8 decisions through mid-May. The youthful left-hander, speaking only Spanish but sporting a devastating screwball, became a sensation. “Fernandomania” gripped both Southern California, where huge crowds turned out to see him pitch, as well as in his home country of Mexico, where the number of radio stations that carried Dodger games increased that year from three stations to 17. Valenzuela became the only pitcher ever to be named Rookie of the Year and win the Cy Young Award in the same season. The Dodgers' torrid start assured them of a playoff berth in the strike-shortened split season. After defeating the Montreal Expos with the help of a ninth-inning two-out home run by Rick Monday in the fifth and deciding game of the National League Championship Series they proceeded to defeat the Yankees in the World Series in six games, with the World Series MVP award split three ways among Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager.

The Dodgers won NL West titles in 1983 and 1985, but lost in the NLCS both those years (to the Phillies and Cardinals, respectively). The 1985 NLCS was particularly memorable for Game 6, in which the Dodgers were protecting a 5-4 lead in the ninth inning, hoping to force a deciding seventh game. With two runners on and first base open, Lasorda elected not to walk Cards slugger Jack Clark, who proceeded to hit a home run off Tom Niedenfuer and send St. Louis to the World Series.

After seven years of high strikeout totals, and a 21-win season in 1986, Valenzuela sat out for most of the 1988 season. Plagued by arm troubles that were widely blamed on his being overused by Lasorda, his effectiveness faded before he turned 30. The new anchor of the pitching staff was a right-hander named Orel Hershiser. He had been given the nickname "Bulldog" by Lasorda, more as a hopeful motivational tool than an objective description of his personality, but by 1988 he had matured into one of baseball's most effective pitchers. That year he won 23 games and the Cy Young Award, and broke Don Drysdale's major league record by tossing 59 consecutive scoreless innings, ending with a 10-inning shutout on his final start of the season.

1988 World Series Championship Team

The 1988 Championship won by the Dodgers is all the more magical for the fact that the Dodgers were not expected to compete. They enjoyed career years from several players, and were inspired by the fiery intensity of newcomer Kirk Gibson (the league's Most Valuable Player that year), as well as the quiet but steady Hershiser and the always ebullient Lasorda. Although they entered the NLCS as decided underdogs to the powerful New York Mets, who they were 1-10 against during the regular season, the Dodgers prevailed in a back-and-forth series that went the entire seven games and saw Hershiser come on for the save in game 4. The World Series matched them with an even more powerful opponent, the Oakland Athletics, who owned baseball's best regular-season record with 104 wins against only 58 defeats. Featuring the "Bash Brothers" duo of Mark McGwire and José Canseco, the A's took an early lead in Game 1 on a grand slam by Canseco, and led 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. With two outs, pinch-hitter Mike Davis drew a base on balls from formidable closer Dennis Eckersley. During Davis' at-bat, Lasorda had the light-hitting infielder Dave Anderson on deck so the Athletics would pitch to Davis more carefully. Then, Gibson, hobbled by injuries to both his legs that included a strained MCL and a severely pulled hamstring, came in to pinch hit. After fighting off several pitches and working the count full, Gibson got the backdoor slider he was looking for and pulled it into the right field pavilion for a two-run, walk-off home run, winning the game for the Dodgers, 5-4. Widely considered one of the most memorable and improbable home runs in baseball history, Gibson's dramatic home run was his only appearance of the entire series, and it set the tone for the following four games. Hershiser dominated the Athletics in Games 2 and 5, and was on the mound when the Dodgers completed their stunning 4 games to 1 upset of the A's, capping off an incredible personal season by being named the Series MVP. Few remember that the Dodgers were so injury riddled during their World Series appearance. They won the Series in Game 5 with lifetime reserves Danny Heep and Mickey Hatcher in the starting lineup.

The 1990s: Rookies and the Fox Era

After 1988, the Dodgers did not win another postseason game until 2004, though they did reach the playoffs in 1995 and 1996, narrowly missed in 1991 and 1997, and led the NL West when the end of the 1994 season was cancelled by a strike. Hershiser, like Valenzuela before him, suffered an arm injury in 1990, and he never regained the production he had earlier in his career. From 1992 to 1996, five consecutive Dodgers were named Rookie of the Year: Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raúl Mondesí, Hideo Nomo, and Todd Hollandsworth, which is a record. After nearly 20 years at the helm, Lasorda retired in 1996, though he still remained with the Dodgers as an executive vice-president. He was replaced as manager by longtime Dodgers shortstop Bill Russell.

Nearly a half-century of unusual stability (only two managers 1954–1996, owned by a single family 1950-1998) finally came to an end. After L.A. city officials rejected a proposal to bring an NFL stadium and franchise to Chavez Ravine in 1998, the O'Malley family sold the Dodgers to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, owner of the Fox network (which also owns broadcast rights to MLB games) and 20th Century Fox. Among the new ownership's early moves were trading away popular catcher Piazza, and replacing Russell with veteran manager Davey Johnson. Johnson's volatile tenure ended two years later, and he was followed as manager by Jim Tracy. Fox made the first changes to the home uniform since the club moved from Brooklyn and introduced the team's first alternate jersey and cap, adding silver to the team's official colors (although they have rarely been used since). The team became more steady on the field in the early 2000s, with four consecutive winning seasons under the leadership of manager Tracy, starting pitcher Chan Ho Park, slugger Shawn Green, third baseman Adrián Beltré, and catcher Paul Lo Duca. The 2002 season was marked by the emergence of Éric Gagné as one of baseball's top relief pitchers. Gagné later won the Cy Young Award in 2003, converting all 55 of his save opportunities that year, and holding the league to a 1.20 ERA and striking out 137 batters in 82 1/3 innings. Gagné would later establish a new major league record for consecutive saves, with 84 saves spanning parts of the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons.

The Sabermetric Experiment

In 2004, the Dodgers were returned to family ownership, as News Corp sold the team to Boston real estate developer Frank McCourt. McCourt immediately hired Paul DePodesta as his new general manager, replacing Dan Evans. As an assistant general manager in Oakland under Billy Beane, DePodesta favored a highly statistical approach to evaluating prospects and potential free-agents. This sabermetric approach, widely publicized in the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis, led many to believe that new owner McCourt was unwilling to pay for high priced talent, and would thus reduce the Dodgers to a status similar to small-market teams such as Oakland. With a team largely assembled by DePodesta's predecessors, and augmented by some acquisitions of his own, DePodesta saw the Dodgers near the top of the standings through much of 2004. In an effort to put the team over the top that year, DePodesta pulled off a number of mid-season trades, including sending away three key players (including popular team leader LoDuca), while obtaining several new players. The Dodgers did manage to win the NL West in 2004, but bowed out quickly in four games in the Division Series to the eventual National League champion St. Louis Cardinals.

During the winter of 2004-05, the team parted ways with several more longtime players, including Beltré and Green. Their replacements included starting pitcher Derek Lowe, outfielder J. D. Drew, and the run-producing, but aging second baseman Jeff Kent. DePodesta's radical overhaul did not bear fruit in 2005, as the Dodgers suffered from clubhouse strife and stifling injuries, finishing with their second-worst record in Los Angeles history. The club also faced an overwhelming number of injuries that quickly scuttled the team's hopes of repeating as division champions. Among them were Drew's broken wrist, All-Star shortstop Cesar Izturis's injury that required Tommy John Surgery, and closer Gagné's deteriorating elbow condition that would also require surgery and force him to miss much of the 2005 season. Manager Jim Tracy also parted ways with the team at the end of the 2005 season, citing irreconcilable differences with DePodesta. However, DePodesta himself was fired by McCourt less than a month later, with McCourt later citing DePodesta's lack of leadership and personal skills. Ned Colletti was hired as the new Dodger GM on November 16, 2005.

Colletti and Little

Newly hired Ned Colletti was responsible for a tangible change in attitude and guided the Dodgers' resurgence in the 2006 season. He hired former Red Sox manager Grady Little to lead the team and also traded oft-troubled Milton Bradley for rookie phenom Andre Ethier. His off season acquisitions also included former Atlanta Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal and former Red Sox third baseman Bill Mueller. Coletti also signed former All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, even though the team already had two other former All-Star shortstops (Furcal and the then-injured Cesar Izturis). Garciaparra agreed to play first base and adjusted quite well in the field and remained productive at the plate, producing several key hits in Dodger victories.

Due to the crowded infield, untimely injuries and several players' lack of production, the team was rebuilt during the season. The flurry of trading saw Cesar Izturis go to the Chicago Cubs for Greg Maddux while Willy Aybar and Danys Baez went to Atlanta for Wilson Betemit. A series of rookies were called up and provided substantial everyday contributions. Among them were catcher Russell Martin, who won the starting catching job after being called up in May and starting pitcher Chad Billingsley, who had several quality starts in August and September. Andre Ethier led the team in batting with a .308 batting average as the team's everyday left fielder through much of the season. Rookie first baseman James Loney hit very well in his short time with the team, tying Gil Hodges’ 56-year-old Dodgers record with 9 RBI in one game on September 28. Another key move was handing the closer's role to rookie (but Japanese League veteran) Takashi Saito, where he flourished, notching 24 saves in 26 opportunities while posting a 2.07 ERA.

After a heated pennant race, in which the most memorable moment occurred when the Dodgers hit four consecutive home runs on September 18 to tie the score in the ninth inning and then won the game on a tenth-inning walk-off homer by Nomar Garciaparra, the Dodgers entered the 2006 playoffs in the National League's Wild Card spot, having tied the San Diego Padres for the division lead but having lost 13 of 18 head-to-head meetings with the Padres. They were eventually swept, 3-0, by the New York Mets in the 2006 National League Division Series.

In 2007, the Los Angeles Dodgers sent three players (Brad Penny, Takashi Saito, and Russell Martin) to the all-star game, and at one point, the Dodgers had a record of 54-41, which was then the best record in the National League. After a hitting slump, the Dodgers fell to 60-59, and seven games out of first place in the N.L. West. The Dodgers were able to rebound, however, and had a 79-69 record with three weeks left in the season. At this point, the Dodgers trailed the San Diego Padres by 1 1/2 games in the wild card slot, and the Arizona Diamondbacks by 3 1/2 games. However, the Dodgers lost 10 of their next 11 games, which eliminated the Dodgers from post season play, and would finish the season with a disappointing 82-80 record. The last few weeks of the season were disrupted further by public complaints in the media by some of the veteran ballplayers about the lack of respect afforded them by some of the younger players on the team. This led to a divided clubhouse, as younger players consistently got more playing time at the expense of the veterans. After the season and weeks of media speculation, Grady Little resigned as manager, citing personal reasons A few days later, on November 1, 2007, the Dodgers announced the hiring of former New York Yankees skipper Joe Torre to be the team's new manager.

The Dodgers Today: Torre, the Youth Movement, and Manny-mania

At the start of the season, Joe Torre found himself with a whole new team, including new players Andruw Jones and Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. To add to his troubles, Don Mattingly was unable to perform his hitting coach duties, and third basemen Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche were out with injuries, leaving the only third-base candidate to rookie Blake DeWitt. DeWitt stepped up early, when Nomar went down again with a calf injury. The team suffered a serious blow when star player Rafael Furcal was injured in the midst of the best start of his career. Many substitutions were used, including rookies Chin-Lung Hu and Luis Maza, but could not duplicate Furcal's offense. Staff ace Brad Penny and slugger Jones began to underperform, leading to trips to the DL for both. Despite the problems with the roster, as well as their record, the Dodgers were only behind first-place Arizona by one game at the All-Star break. To bolster a lineup of mostly young players, Ned Colleti made trades for shortstop Angel Berroa, third-baseman Casey Blake, and on July 31, 2008 the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired outfielder Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox in a 3-way deal that sent third baseman Andy LaRoche and single-A prospect pitcher Bryan Morris to the Pittsburgh Pirates and all-star outfielder Jason Bay to the Red Sox. The season saw progress in the teams prospects, including a call-up for top prospect Clayton Kershaw, as well as comebacks from veteran pitchers, most notably Chan Ho Park. Chad Billingsley quickly grew to be the team's ace, being one of the leaders in strikeouts and ERA and being the first pitcher on the Dodgers to get double-digit wins. For the majority of the season, the club has hovered around a .500 record. When Brad Penny struggled after coming off the DL, the club re-acquired Greg Maddux from San Diego. After playing more than 140 games of catch-up, the Dodgers swept Arizona to take first place in the last series of the season for the two teams on September 7 after being 4 games behind the week before. The team has had to deal with injuries for the bulk of the season, including Furcal and Penny as well as All-Star closer Takashi Saito and Jeff Kent. The Dodgers clinched the 2008 National League Western Division title on September 25 as the Arizona Diamondbacks were eliminated by losing to the St. Louis Cardinals 12-3. On October 4, 2008 they beat the Cubs 3-0 to sweep the 2008 NLDS and move on to the NLCS, In which they are facing the Philadelphia Phillies.

Other historical notes

Historical Statistics

  • First MLB team to employ a black player in the 20th century (Jackie Robinson)
  • First baseball team to win championships in different leagues in consecutive years (1890)
  • First TV broadcast (1939)
  • First use of batting helmets (1941)
  • First team to start an African-American player (1947)
  • First West Coast team (1958)
  • First MLB team to open an office in Asia (1998)
  • Largest home-opener crowd (78,762 in 1958)
  • Largest attendance (93,103 in 1959)
  • Largest attendance (115,300 in 2008)

Tournament of Roses Parade

On January 1, 2008, The Dodgers kicked off their 50th year in Los Angeles by building a float for the 119th annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. The riders on the float contained past and current Dodgers, including Tom Lasorda, Nomar Garciaparra, Don Newcombe, Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Garvey, Eric Karros, James Loney, Takashi Saito, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Brad Penny. Also on the float was Vin Scully, the Dodgers announcer of 59 years and the Dodgers organist, Nancy Bea Hefley.

Asian Players

The Dodgers have been groundbreaking in their signing of players from Asia; namely, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Former owner Peter O'Malley began reaching out in 1980 by starting clinics in China and Korea, building baseball fields in two Chinese cities, and in 1998 becoming the first major league team to open an office in Asia. The Dodgers were the first team to start a Japanese player in recent history, pitcher Hideo Nomo, a Korean player, pitcher Chan Ho Park, and the first Taiwanese player, Chin-Feng Chen. In addition, they were the first team to send out three Asian pitchers, from different Asian countries, in one game, Chan Ho Park, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Takashi Saito. In the 2008 season the Dodgers currently have the most Asian players on its roster of any major league team with five. They include Japanese pitchers Takashi Saito and Hiroki Kuroda; Korean pitcher Chan Ho Park; and Taiwanese pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo and infielder Chin-Lung Hu.

Uniforms

The Dodgers uniforms have remained relatively unchanged for almost 70 years. The home jersey is white with Dodgers written in script across the chest in blue. Since 1952 the team has had a red uniform number under the Dodgers script. The road jersey is gray with Los Angeles written in script across the chest in blue. The road jerseys also have a red uniform number under the script. The Dodgers have worn the current uniforms on the field since 1939 with only minor cosmetic changes. The most obvious of these is the removal of "Brooklyn" from the road jerseys and the replacement of the stylized "B" with the interlocking "L.A." on the caps in 1958. In 1970 the Dodgers removed the city name from the road jerseys and had Dodgers on both the home and away uniforms. The city script returned to the road jerseys in 1999. Also in 1999 the tradition rich Dodgers flirted with an alternate uniform for the first time since 1944 (when all blue satin uniforms were introduced). These 1999 alternate jerseys had a royal blue top with the Dodgers script in white across the chest and the red number on the front. These were worn with white pants and a new Dodger cap complete with a silver brim, silver top button and silver Dodger logo. These alternates proved unpopular and the team abandoned them after only one season.

Fan Support

Attendance

The Dodgers were the first MLB team to attract more than 3 million fans in a season (in 1978), and accomplished that feat 6 more times before any other franchise did it once. On July 3, 2007, Dodgers management announced that total franchise attendance, dating back to 1901, had reached 175 million, a record for all professional sports.

The Dodgers also recently set the world record for the greatest attendance for a single baseball game during an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in honor of the Dodgers 50th anniversary in Los Angeles with over 115,000 fans in attendance. All proceeds from the game benefitted the official charity of the Dodgers, ThinkCure! which supports cancer research at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and City of Hope.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully began broadcasting for the then Brooklyn ball club during the 1950 season and is a beloved figure among the fans to this very day. In 1976, he was selected by Dodgers fans as the Most Memorable Personality (on the field or off) in the team's history. He is also a recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters (inducted in 1982). He currently is in his 59th year with the team.

Radio and television

As noted above, Vin Scully has called Dodgers games since 1950. His longtime partners were Jerry Doggett (1956-1987) and Ross Porter (1977-2004). Unlike the modern style in which multiple sportscasters have an on-air conversation (usually with one functioning as play-by-play announcer and the other(s) as color commentator), Scully and Doggett and Porter generally called games solo, trading with each other inning-by-inning. In the 1980s and 90s, Scully would call the entire radio broadcast except for the 3rd and 7th inning; allowing the other Dodger commentators to broadcast an inning.

Scully continues to call Dodgers games without a color commentator.

When Doggett retired after the 1987 season, he was replaced by Hall-of-Fame Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale, who previously broadcast games for the crosstown California Angels. Drysdale died in his hotel room following a heart attack before a game in 1993, resulting in a very difficult broadcast for Scully and Porter, who were told of the death but could not mention in on-air until Drysdale' family had been notified and the official announcement of the death made. He was replaced by former Dodgers outfielder Rick Monday. Porter's tenure was terminated somewhat controversially after the 2004 season, after which the current format of play-by-play announcers and color commentators was installed, led by newcomer Charley Steiner as well as Scully and Monday.

Today, Scully calls a limited schedule of games (all home games and road games in NL West ballparks) for both flagship radio station KABC and television outlets KCAL-TV and FSN Prime Ticket. Scully is simulcast for the first three innings of each of his appearances, then announces only for the TV audience.

If Scully is calling the game, Charley Steiner takes over play-by-play on radio beginning with the fourth inning, with Rick Monday as color commentator. If Scully is not calling the game, Steiner and Steve Lyons call the entire game on television while Monday (now as play-by-play) and Jerry Reuss do the same on radio.

In the event the Dodgers are in post-season play, Vin will call the first three and last three innings of the radio broadcast alone; with Charley Steiner and Rick Monday handling the middle innings.

The Dodgers also broadcast on radio in Spanish, and the play-by-play is handled by another Ford C. Frick Award winner, Jaime Jarrin. Jarrin has been with the Dodgers since 1959. The color analyst for some games is former Dodger pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, for whom Jarrin once translated postgame interviews. The Spanish-language flagship is KHJ.

Live traffic reports pertaining to Dodger Stadium are broadcast from the Dodgers Transportation Center inside the ballpark. KABC radio's Captain Jorge Jarrin (son of Dodger broadcaster Jaime Jarrin) and Doug Dunlap handle those duties during the pre-game and post-game shows as well as during Dodger Talk following the game.

In 2006 the Dodgers introduced an on demand channel on Time Warner Cable called "Dodgers on Demand", hosted by Tony Kinkela.

Public Address Announcers

From the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958, the Dodgers employed a handful of well-known public address announcers; the most famous of which was John Ramsey, who served as the PA voice of the Dodgers from 1958 until his retirement in 1982; as well as announcing at other venerable Los Angeles venues, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena, and the Forum. Ramsey died in 1990.

Dennis Packer, Nick Nickson, Pete Arbogast and Mike Carlucci also served as Dodger Stadium announcers following Ramsey's retirement. Packer was an emulator of John Ramsey, using the same style of announcing Ramsey was famous for.

The current Dodgers public address announcer is Eric Smith, who also works in the same capacity for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Quick facts

Founded: 1855, as a member of the National Association of Baseball Players and minor Inter-State League. The team moved up to the American Association in 1884 and transferred to the National League in 1890.
Chairman: Frank McCourt
Vice Chairman and President: Jamie McCourt
Special Advisor to the Chairman: Tommy Lasorda
Chief Operating Officer:
General Manager: Ned Colletti
Logo design: cursive "Dodgers" superimposed over a red streaming baseball
Uniform: Cap is "Dodger blue" with white "LA" (letters overlapped) centered on front of cap; home is "Dodger blue" on "wedding gown" white, jersey has cursive "Dodgers" (similar to logo but without baseball) across chest; away is "Dodger blue" on gray, jersey has similar cursive "Los Angeles" across chest; names were printed on back of home or away jerseys from circa 1970 to 2004. The names on the back are restored as of the 2007 season, after a two-year absence.
Radio: KABC
Local Television: FSN Prime Ticket (Formerly FSN West 2), KCAL-TV
Spring Training Facility: Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, FL (moving to Glendale, AZ in 2009)
World Series Wins: 6 (1 Brooklyn, 5 Los Angeles)
Rivals: San Francisco Giants Arch-Rivals in both New York City and California. (Division), San Diego Padres SoCal N.L. Clubs (Division) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Crosstown Rival (Interleague), New York Yankees Numerous World Series Meetings (Interleague)

Baseball Hall of Famers

 

 

Retired numbers


Pee Wee Reese
SS, Coach
July 1, 1984

Tommy Lasorda
P, M, GM
Aug 15, 1997

Duke Snider
OF
July 6, 1980

Jim Gilliam
2B, 3B, Coach
Oct 10, 1978

Don Sutton
P
Aug 14, 1998

Walter Alston
Manager
June 5, 1977

Sandy Koufax
P
June 4, 1972

Roy Campanella
C
June 4, 1972

Jackie Robinson
2B
June 4, 1972

Don Drysdale
P
July 1, 1984

Since 1997, Robinson's #42 has been retired throughout Major League Baseball in honor of his breaking the color barrier in 1947. Robinson is the only major league baseball player to have this honor bestowed upon him. He spent his entire career with the Dodgers, who retired his number in 1972.

Because the MLB decided to grandfather the use of the number 42 out of the game, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera still wears the number as he is the only active player who wore the number before it was retired across all of Major League Baseball.

Koufax, Campanella, and Robinson were the first Dodgers to have their numbers retired. They were all retired in a ceremony at Dodger Stadium on June 4, 1972.

Gilliam died suddenly in 1978 at the age of 49, after a 28-year career with the Dodgers organization. The Dodgers retired his number two days after his death, prior to Game 1 of the 1978 World Series, making him the only non-Hall-of-Famer to have his number retired by the Dodgers.

The Dodgers have not issued #34 since the departure of Fernando Valenzuela in 1991, although it has not been officially retired.

Presidents

Managers

Since 1884, the Dodgers have used a total of 29 Managers. Joe Torre, the current Manager of the Dodgers, has held the position since 2008.

The managers of the Los Angeles Dodgers (1958-present) are as follows:

General Managers

Current roster

Minor league affiliations

Minor league rosters

Los Angeles Dodgers minor league rosters

Further reading

  • Red Barber, style="font-style : italic;">Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat
  • Stanley Cohen, Dodgers! The First 100 Years
  • Robert W. Creamer, style="font-style : italic;">Stengel: His Life and Times
  • D'Agostino, Dennis; Bonnie Crosby (2007). Through a Blue Lens: The Brooklyn Dodgers Photographs of Barney Stein, 1937-1957. Triumph Books. ISBN 1572439521.
  • Steve Delsohn, True Blue: The Dramatic History of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Told By the Men Who Lived It
  • Carl Erskine and Vin Scully, Tales From the Dodger Dugout: Extra Innings
  • Harvey Froemmer, New York City Baseball
  • Cliff Gewecke, Day by Day in Dodgers History
  • Andrew Goldblatt, The Giants and the Dodgers: Four Cities, Two Teams, One Rivalry
  • Peter Golenbock, Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir
  • Frank Graham, The Brooklyn Dodgers: An Informal History
  • Orel Hershiser with Jerry B. Jenkins, Out Of The Blue
  • Donald Honig, The Los Angeles Dodgers: Their First Quarter Century
  • Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer
  • Roger Kahn, The Era 1947-1957: When the Yankees, the Giants and the Dodgers Ruled the World
  • Mark Langill, The Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Tommy Lasorda with David Fisher, The Artful Dodger
  • Jane Leavy, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy
  • Joseph McCauley, Ebbets Field: Brooklyn's Baseball Shrine
  • William McNeil, The Dodgers Encyclopedia
  • Tom Meany (editor), The Artful Dodgers
  • Andrew Paul Mele, A Brooklyn Dodgers Reader
  • John J. Monteleone (editor), Branch Rickey's Little Blue Book
  • Thomas Oliphant, Praying for Gil Hodges: A Memoir of the 1955 World Series and One Family's Love of the Brooklyn Dodgers
  • David Plaut, Chasing October: The Dodgers-Giants Pennant Race of 1962
  • Carl E. Prince, Brooklyn's Dodgers: The Bums, The Borough and The Best of Baseball
  • Jackie Robinson, I Never Had It Made
  • Gene Schoor, The Complete Dodgers Record Book
  • Gene Schoor, The Pee Wee Reese Story
  • Duke Snider with Bill Gilbert, The Duke of Flatbush
  • Michael Shapiro, The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, The Dodgers, and Their Final Pennant Race Together
  • Glen Stout, The Dodgers: 120 Years of Dodgers Baseball
  • Neil J. Sullivan, The Dodgers Move West
  • Jules Tygiel, Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy
  • John Weaver, Los Angeles: The Enormous Village, 1781-1981

See also

References

External links

  • Los Angeles Team Building - Dodger's Mentoring
  • Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball Reference
  • Article on the 1960s Los Angeles Dodgers in The Hardball Times.
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