One of the things that I really miss during the COVID-19 crisis, and in the past have always taken for granted, is the start of the baseball season.
My beloved Giants would have played three games to open the 2020 season. And, as hope springs eternal at the beginning of each baseball season, I always hoped for a clean sweep against the Dodgers, so I could “trash talk” all my Dodger fan friends on Facebook.
As a life-long Giants fan I must admit that I have a strong dislike for the Dodgers. So, you may ask, how can a guy who has lived in L.A. for almost 39 years continue to feel that strongly about the team in the city in which he lives? Well, when you are born a Giants fan, it is almost a genetic trait to have a dislike for the boys from “Smogville”! (By the way, L.A. doesn’t have the smog problem that it once had, especially during this time of the shelter-in-place mandate)
I saw my first live baseball game at the age of 9, at the newly opened Candlestick Park. The Giants lost 3-2 that day but Willie Mays made a great leaping catch in centerfield. I saw the catch close up since we were sitting in bleachers in left field. Thus began my love affair with the Giants!
In the City, anyone who wears a Dodger cap is regarded the same as a person wearing a MAGA hat in West LA. He or she is asking for verbal abuse and may even be subject to physical abuse! (I certainly do not condone that kind of behavior, though!)
I dislike the Dodgers so much that I have never had a Dodger on my fantasy baseball team. If one of my players was traded to the Dodgers mid-season, I immediately dropped the player. I want no Dodgers on my team!
On the family scene, I am married to a Dodger fan and, like politics and religion, we try to avoid the topic as much as possible. My younger son Colin, like his old man, is a diehard Giants fan. Derek, my older son, is unfortunately a Dodgers fan. (Every family has a black sheep! Ha! Ha!)
Through the years the Giants/Dodger rivalry has produced quite a few memorable and controversial incidents. No baseball fan can forget Bobby Thompson and “The Shot Heard Around the World.” The shot, of course, referred to his home run off Ralph Branca that gave the Giants the 1951 pennant.
An ugly incident is Juan Marichal hitting John Roseboro with a bat. It was a black eye for baseball. In later years, Roseboro forgave Marichal and they became friends. Marichal, in fact, served as an honorary pallbearer at Roseboro’s funeral.
Who can forget Dodger Reggie Smith having batteries thrown at him from the left-field bleachers at Candlestick Park, thus earning the Giants fans the nickname of the “battery chuckers”? In one 1981 incident, Smith went after a fan in the stands. The next year Smith would sign on as a free agent with the Giants.
As a fan of the hated ones (a Vic the Brick reference), I too have been verbally abused from time to time for wearing my Giants gear at Dodger Stadium.
Is there anything I like about the Dodgers? Well, I do like Dodger Stadium…it’s a great place to watch a ballgame. In addition to that, a ballgame is not a ballgame without a Dodger Dog.And having lived for so long in L.A., listening to Vin Scully was always a joy! But remember, Scully grew up a Giants fan.
Unfortunately, one of my best in-person baseball memories was supplied by a Dodger. I saw Jerry Reuss pitch a no-hitter at Candlestick Park on June 27,1980. It was almost a perfect game except for a Bill Russell error. It was only one of 10 games in Major League Baseball history where a no-hitter did not have a walk or hit batter.
I am embarrassed to admit that in the ninth inning of that game, my best friend Warren Kubota and I were standing and cheering for the Dodger Jerry Reuss to pitch a no-hitter. (Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I feel a little better.)
Another Dodger memory involves Tommy Lasorda. We had seats at the stadium level and we saw Tommy walking down the hall. Colin had a baseball and a pen, so he ran after Tommy for his autograph. Now the baseball was unique in that it had the San Francisco Giants logo on it. Well, Tommy signed it on the sweet spot despite that and gave my son, the die-hard Giants fan, a smile!
Tommy may bleed Dodger Blue, but he provided a wonderful memory for a young Giants fan.
I will continue to bleed “Orange and Black”! Go Giants!!!
Bill Yee is a retired Alhambra High School history teacher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.