By BILL YEE
It should be rocking and a rolling at Oracle Park and Dodger Stadium in the next week as the Giants play the Dodgers for a trip to the NLCS and the World Series. It will be the first time in the history of this storied rivalry that they will be playing in a playoff series.
From the time he or she comes into this world, a child in San Francisco grows up hating the Dodgers and his or her first words are “Beat L.A., Beat L.A., Beat L.A.!”
As a life-long Giants fan, I grew up hating the Dodgers. In my youth I hated Sandy Koufax and Maury Wills because their efforts would beat my Giants on a consistent basis.
The groundskeeper at Candlestick Park would wet the base paths to prevent Wills from stealing a base. Unfortunately, that strategy did not work and with Koufax on the mound and Wills stealing second and Jim Gilliam hitting a single, the Dodgers would beat my Giants.
The Giants did win the pennant at the expense of the Dodgers in 1962.
As a child, I hated that scenario. I hated the Dodgers so much that I would not collect the baseball cards of Dodger players.
I would never get a tattoo, but if I did to show how much I hate the Dodgers, the tattoo would say, “Beat L.A.”
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!
In the City, anyone who wears a Dodger cap is regarded the same as a person wearing a MAGA hat in West L.A. 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!)
Every red-blooded Giants fan, even if he or she is not old enough, remembers “The Shot Heard Around the World.” Bobby Thompson hitting the home run off of Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca, and Russ Hodges’ famous call, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”
It took place Oct. 3, 1951. The Giants came back to win the pennant after being 13½ games behind in August. Thirty years later my wife and I would get married on Oct. 3, 1981.
On the family scene, I am married to a Dodgers 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 die-hard Giants fan. Derek, my older son, is unfortunately a Dodgers fan. (Every family has a black sheep! Ha! Ha!)
Through the years, the Giants/Dodgers rivalry has produced quite a few memorable and controversial incidents. Again, no baseball fan can forget Bobby Thompson and “The Shot Heard Around the World.” But I remember coming back from Palm Springs on Oct. 3, 1982. We were celebrating our first wedding anniversary.
Listening to Vin Scully as Joe Morgan hit the homer that eliminated the Dodgers from the playoffs, I almost jumped out of my car and my new bride was not very happy with me.
An ugly incident was 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 “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 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.
By the way Tommy would get the fans going at Candlestick Park as he walked down the first-base line on the way to the Dodger locker room, taunting the fans. It drove the Giants faithful crazy.
Finally, there is a family irony to the rivalry. Since 2020 my son Colin has been one of the engineers for the Dodger radio broadcast on KLAC. So, it is a die-hard Giants fan in part bringing Dodger fans their games.
Starting Friday night, the rivalry begins another chapter. Here’s hoping the Giants prevail! It time to add another ring to the collection! 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.