Introduction to the Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are an American professional baseball team. They are members of the National League West division of Major League Baseball. Like many other major league baseball teams, the Dodgers have had their share of ups and downs, victories and defeats, injuries, trades, and star players that have made them one of American baseball’s illustrious teams. Read on about the highlights of the Dodgers’ history.
Years-long stint in New York as the Brooklyn Dodgers (1883-1957)
Before they moved to their current home state of California, the Dodgers originally came from the East Coast. They were first formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1883; the city was then home to many baseball clubs in the mid-19th century. Their team, called the Brooklyn Dodgers, joined as a member of the Inter-State Association of Professional Baseball Clubs which was a minor baseball league. The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to the American Association (where they would win the pennant in 1889) and eventually to the National League when it debuted in 1890.
While in their very first year at the National League, the Brooklyn Dodgers decided to rename themselves as the Bridegrooms (because seven of the players had just been married around the same time). The Bridegrooms started the National League on a quite positive note with an 86-43 win-loss card.
The franchise eventually went on to use a variety of other names like the Grays, the Grooms, the Brooklyn Superbas, and the Robins. These names weren’t used officially, but were only monikers handed to them by fans and sportscasters. The team’s official name was the Brooklyn Baseball Club. They arrived at the name the “Trolley Dodgers” in reference to the complex maze of trolleys that crossed their way in the Brooklyn streets. The name was later shortened to just “Dodgers,” which was used throughout this period, along with other nicknames such as Ward’s Wonders, Foutz’s Fillies, and Hanlon’s Superbas, and several other monikers.
Rivalries with other teams, and the Dodgers early performance in the World Series
The long-standing rivalry between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants (who were based in Manhattan) began way back in 1889. When both teams moved to California, the rivalry was easily transported, as Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, as both cities had been strong rivals in many aspects from the economy down to arts and culture.
In 1916, the franchise, then as the Robins, debuted in the World Series facing the Boston Red Sox. A young pitcher by the name of Babe Ruth led the Red Sox to victory. Ruth would eventually join the Dodgers as a first-base coach during the late 1930s, which were to be his last years in the professional league. In 1920, the team, now known as the Dodgers, returned to the World Series but lost yet again, this time to Cleveland Indians. In 1941, The Dodgers won their third National League pennant, but they lost again to the New York Yankees in the World Series. This marked the beginning of the classic Dodgers-Yankees rivalry as they would face each other in their next six World Series appearances.
Jackie Robinson: the first African-American baseball player in history
In 1947, an African-American player Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers. This made the Dodgers the first team to break the color barrier and racial segregation that had relegated black baseball players to the (now-defunct) Negro league for decades. Robinson made history not only as the first black man to play for the major league in the modern era, but also by his playing.
Like many black people during that era, Robisnon experienced intense discrimination. He received racial slurs not only from the opposing teams, but also from his teammates themselves who even insinuated that they’d rather sit out than play alongside Robinson. Some players even threatened to beat him up if he played. But he also had strong support from his other teammates and the Dodgers’ management, who strongly stood by in its position in letting him play for the team.
Through it all, Robinson’s performance won him Rookie of the Year in 1947, and two years later he captured the Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first black major league baseball player to have that honor.
Winning their first-ever World Series crown
Since hiring Robinson, the Dodgers had begun spring training for the players. They settled with Vero Beach in Florida and began to have a long association with the venue as their spring training home.
The Brooklyn Dodgers also signed another black player, National League MVP Roy Campanella, into their own roster. With contributions from him and Robinson, the Dodgers finally conquered the Yankees in seven games, winning their first-ever World Series title in 1955. Hall of Famers Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider also made significant contributions to their victory.
The team’s last season as the Brooklyn Dodgers
The team made another significant step in their own history as they played their last season as the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1957. A real estate businessman by the name of Walter O’Malley announced that after 68 seasons in Brooklyn, the Dodgers would be moving to Los Angeles, California. Around the same period, the once-New York Giants also moved to the West Coast becoming the San Francisco Giants. This move would also transfer the long-standing Dodgers-Giants rivalry from the East Coast to the West Coast. This move was intended to bring baseball to all parts of the United States.
In 1953, Walter Alston became the team manager. For the next 24 years the quiet, unflappable Alston directed the Dodgers to their four World Series Championships.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles..
O’Malley, who was first appointed as the Dodgers’ lawyer in 1942, went on to acquire a major part of the team’s ownership in 1950, and had long wanted to build a new, more modern and state-of-the-art stadium for the team in Brooklyn. However, New York City officials had refused to provide him the land where he would build his new stadium. That’s where Los Angeles came into the picture.
Los Angeles officials, on the other hand, had been looking for baseball team prospects to play on the West Coast. However, they weren’t even considering the Dodgers but their original target was the Washington Senators. When O’Malley heard the news he didn’t waste any more time, and talked to LA officials about his interest. Los Angeles offered him something New York had refused, which was the land suitable for building a stadium. The move meant O’Malley would have total control of the revenues. When New York officials heard of this they attempted, rather feebly, to talk the Dodgers into having their own stadium in Brooklyn. But O’Malley was completely decided with the LA deal, and the Dodgers were definitely heading for Hollywood.
Becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers (1958-present)
In 1958, the franchise became the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was the first major league baseball team ever to play in the City of Angels. On April 15 that year, the new Dodgers played their first game after moving from Brooklyn, losing out to the Giants. Three days later the Dodgers played their first home game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, this time defeating the Giants.
Unveiling the Dodgers’ homecourt, the Dodgers Stadium
As the Los Angeles Dodgers, they won their first World Series championship, defeating the Chicago White Sox four games to two, in October 1959.
On April 10, 1962 the new Dodgers Stadium was finally unveiled to the public after almost three years of planning and construction. The stadium has cantilevered grandstands that have since been imitated by other stadiums since. The spacious stadium also gave the Dodgers a better playing advantage. Years later, in 1980, the Dodgers Stadium became the venue of the All-Star game for the first time; it also marked the debut of the newly unveiled Diamond Vision board in the outfield.
Since becoming the LA Dodgers the team has won several more National League and World Series championships. In 1963, the Dodgers won the WS crown against the Yankees again (4-0), and won the National League pennant that same year. In 1965, the Dodgers proved their dominance by winning both the World Series (over the Minnesota Twins) and the National League once again. The team won yet another NL pennant the following year. The team’s success n the 1960s was attributed to the dominant pitching tandem of Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, and also the powerful pitching from Claude Osteen, Johnny Podres and Ron Perranoski.
Signing players of different races
In 1970, O’Malley’s son Peter was appointed as the Dodger’s president, and nine years later he went on to become the team owner. The Dodgers kept on their groundbreaking tradition of signing baseball players of different races. They hired players mostly coming from Asia: Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Peter O’Malley even established clinics in China and South Korea in the early 1980s, and built baseball stadiums in China. The Dodgers also became the first team to open an office outside the US (China). Hideo Nomo made his mark as the first Japanese-born (e.g., not born in other countries) Japanese player to have a major league career in the US baseball. He opened the doors for other Japanese players to enter American Major League Baseball.
The team’s later management history
In 1976, Alston resigned as manager with former minor leaguer Tommy Lasorda taking over the helm. In his first two seasons as manager Lasorda led the team to win National League pennants, making the only second National League manager to score this feat. For the next 19 years Lasorda managed the team until his retirement in 1996 due to health reasons.
In 1981, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their fifth World Series championship against another one of their fierce rivals, the New York Yankees. This marked the two teams’ third meeting in a World Series final.
The team hasn’t been without its share of controversy, however. Former Brooklyn Dodgers player and the team’s general manager at that time, Al Campanis, was fired in April 1987. Campanis, who had also played alongside Jackie Robinson with whom he had been close to, let out racial remarks on his interview on ABC’s Nightline. This set off a controversy that led to Campanis’ ultimate dismissal.
Transfers of ownership
In 1997, Peter O’Malley announced that his family put up the Dodgers franchise for sale. The following year he relinquished both of his positions as the Dodgers’ president and team owner. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Group bought the Dodgers franchise from the O’Malleys for $350 million. The price tag also included the Dodger Stadium as well as the team’s training complexes in Florida’s Vero Beach, and the Dominican Republic. In 2012, Guggenheim Partners’ sports arm Guggenheim Baseball Management acquired the Dodgers to the tune of $2.15 billion, and up to the present Guggenheim still owns the team.
The Dodgers’ star quality
The Dodgers are known to be one of the teams with a very loyal fan base, drawing the most fans of any other major league franchise. Since the Dodgers’ home court is just close to Hollywood, it’s not a question that many of the Dodgers’ loyal fan base consists of the top celebrities rooting for them. The Dodgers set the world record for having the biggest attendance in a single ballgame. That occurred on March 28, 2008 at the Coliseum, in an exhibition match versus the Boston Red Sox in honor of the Dodgers’ 50th anniversary. The event was attended by 115,300 paying fans.
The Dodgers have given one of the most remarkable stories in American baseball. Aside from their victories and losses, and despite some controversies, the Dodgers also have made significant highlights, groundbreaking achievements in and out of the field, This has led to their star power that has made them one of Major League Baseball’s illustrious teams.