Looking back on the ’57 West Coast exodus, some disgruntled fans- of the Dodgers and Giants both- detected something like a conspiracy. While the clandestine nature may have been imagined, there was a very real communication between Dodger’s top-man Walter O’Malley and his opposite number at the Giants, Horace Stoneham. The Giants were, like the Dodgers considering a move for a variety of reasons, though of course, financial causes were paramount. The Giants’ plans for relocation were tentatively focused on Minnesota, whereas the Dodgers were heading for sunny Los Angeles. The gifted O’Malley managed to talk Stoneham round to a course of action that made for wonderful sporting drama; instead of Minnesota, why not head west, too? If both teams relocated, the Great Rivalry could continue, a unique twist to an already singular tale of sporting competitiveness.
Crossing a Continent
Despite the neatness of the two old rivals sticking together in their continental traverse, fans were cut to their core, and many never forgave the hurt. But time heals all wounds, and both clubs have remained remarkably well-supported. As the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, the old teams found new life, refreshed in their new identities. LA and San Francisco had long been rival cities themselves in many ways, and the baseball rivalry was a natural fit.
The way the contest between the two franchises managed to survive such a radical shift is without a real parallel in baseball; in fact, you would struggle to find any comparable case in any competitive sport. It stands compactly above the crowds of sporting grudges, in an estate thoroughly its own.
Pennants Past- and Future?
The figures back up the tale and provide abundant proof that the rivalry is far from one-sided. It is one of the most finely-tuned, sustained duels in sports history: looking back to the East Coast, the Dodgers took a dozen pennants, with a further ten coming to them in LA. In their early Eastern days, the Giants claimed 17 pennants, with a further half dozen during their Western tenure.
What of this season? The Dodgers, as of this writing, are in terrific form, 10 of 12 and only looking likely to press home their high morale for further results. The Giants? It’s only fair to say they are facing a challenge this season; there were problems as early as pre-season training, and things have only gotten worse. But if history has taught us anything, it is that neither the Dodgers or the Giants can be written off.
Originally published at No Halftime.