Personal list of greatest Giants-Dodgers hits

Friday, July 27

SAN FRANCISCO — The Dodgers are in town. And with the Giants leading the National League West standings by three games over Los Angeles, this three-game series bears obvious significance for the division race.

But if you’re a true fan of either team — heck, if you’re a true fan, period — it always means something when these teams clash.

Perhaps I’m romanticizing the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, or what’s left of it. The intensity their games generate seems to have steadily diminished, with the exception of occasional plateaus when both teams are in contention.

Then I guess I’m a hopeless romantic, because I’ll always believe in the potential for the energy, juice, or electricity that the Giants and Dodgers potentially can generate.

Every time I walk into the visitors’ clubhouse at Dodger Stadium — every time — I imagine what it must have been like when Mays, McCovey, Marichal and Perry dressed there, preparing for another critical game before another sellout crowd and against another outstanding pitcher.

Sometimes when I reflect on what I love about baseball, I recall the first time I listened to a Giants-Dodgers game. Searching for KSFO’s broadcast on my cheap little transistor radio, I passed over a frequency where I heard nothing but static. As it turned out, that was the broadcast, and the sound was the hubbub of crowd noise. Finally I heard either Russ Hodges or Lon Simmons say, “I don’t think that’s Alston.” Translation: All that was happening was a trip to the mound by a Dodgers coach, not manager Walter Alston, and thousands of people were hollering.

Anything generating that kind of excitement when nothing was going on was worth following.

That’s just one reason I remain a Giants-Dodgers junkie.

Here are a dozen others — a list, in chronological order, of the most memorable Giants-Dodgers games I either attended or covered. Telecasts don’t count. Sorry; I wasn’t around for the Joe Morgan game or the Brian Johnson game. And though my age begins with a “5,” I didn’t get interested in baseball early enough to see Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale pitch.

Still, I treasure this list, along with the sound and the fury it awakens internally (thanks to baseball-reference.com for the factual help).

May 15, 1971 — Giants 1, Dodgers 0. This remains a personal favorite. Juan Marichal pitched a six-hitter (shame on you for wondering whether it was a complete game), and Willie Mays scored the only run when he lined a seventh-inning double and scored on Dick Dietz’s single.

July 2, 1972 — Giants 9, Dodgers 3. Willie McCovey hit a grand slam. Enough said.

Sept. 3, 1973 — Giants 11, Dodgers 8. I was struck by how many people remembered this one when I blogged about it a while back. Los Angeles owned an 8-1 lead when the Giants scored six runs in the seventh inning. Bobby Bonds completed the Giants’ comeback with a ninth-inning grand slam. Unreal.

June 26-29, 1975 — Giants 2-10-2-5, Dodgers 0-5-1-2. The downtrodden Giants swept the elite Dodgers in a four-game series at Candlestick. An early lesson in how anything can happen in baseball. I believe I attended the first and last games of this series.

April 11, 1976 — Giants 6, Dodgers 4. I couldn’t make it for Opening Day, which amounted to a celebration of the Giants’ staying in San Francisco after they appeared bound for Toronto. After Saturday’s game was rained out, I made sure to be at Candlestick on Sunday, when the Giants overcame a 4-2 deficit with four runs in the eighth inning.

May 28, 1978 — Giants 6, Dodgers 5. Mike Ivie’s pinch-hit grand slam off Don Sutton wiped out a 3-1 Dodgers lead and sent a then-record Candlestick crowd of 56,103 into a frenzy.

June 27, 1980 — Dodgers 8, Giants 0. Jerry Reuss pitched a no-hitter. Hey, I didn’t promise these would all be stirring Giants victories. A no-hitter is a no-hitter!

June 29, 1980 — Giants 4, Dodgers 3. The venerable warrior slays the formidable enemy one final time. McCovey, who a couple of weeks earlier announced his retirement effective early July, clobbers a pinch-hit, tiebreaking double in the ninth inning to beat the Dodgers in the first game of a Candlestick doubleheader. The ovation for McCovey lasted nearly the entire between-games period.

April 16, 2006 — Giants 2, Dodgers 0. Omar Vizquel, who belongs in the Hall of Fame, proved what made him such a singular shortstop by unexpectedly throwing behind a runner (Cody Ross!) rounding third base to douse a Dodgers rally. Brilliant baseball.

July 20, 2010 — Giants 7, Dodgers 5. The Bruce Bochy game. San Francisco’s manager noticed that acting Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly doubled back on a trip to the mound, necessitating the removal of closer Jonathan Broxton (never mind that the umpires misinterpreted the rule). The Giants proceeded to hammer the next reliever, George Sherrill.

July 31, 2010 — Giants 2, Dodgers 1. The Pat Burrell game. Burrell’s two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning erased Los Angeles’ 1-0 lead. Though the Giants still had to survive the ninth inning, Burrell’s drive had the feel of a walkoff hit.

Sept. 4, 2010 — Giants 5, Dodgers 4. Another conversation piece from the World Series season. San Francisco trailed 4-0 through six innings and looked listless. Then Buster Posey homered in the seventh, Edgar Renteria and Burrell went deep in the eighth and Juan Uribe added a two-run homer in the ninth. Just another Giants-Dodgers game.

Chris Haft

14 Comments

Chris, although my age begins with a “5″ as well, I’m old enough to remember Koufax and Drysdale — and the Johnny Roseboro-Juan Marichal incident — from the 60s. This is probably because I used to be a Dodgers fan (hey, don’t blame me, I grew up there!) and didn’t become a full-fledged Giants fan until after 1981, after the Dodgers beat the Yanks in the strike season (although I did think Gibson’s home run was kinda cool, since I hated the As more in those days). Anyway, I thank you for this, because I always thought this rivalry was WAY better than the Red Sox and the Yankees (who I see are also playing each other this weekend, which must mean ESPN will show two of the games), but then, I’ve always been a west coast guy.

And now to go to the site to see Pablo’s fate. Can I sneak in here that the one move I disagreed with all year was sending down Brett Pill? I thought (think) he has a lot of promise, so I hope Bochy and Sabean reconsider. Thanks, as always, for your posts!

Joe

Thank you very much, Joe. Keep rooting!

July 20, 2010. From then on I’ve always thought of him as Donnie “Two Times” Mattingly.

I’ll weigh in on the Brian Johnson game then, since I was lucky enough to be there. I still consider it the single most exciting regular season game I’ve ever attended – and I have season tix (and am in my 40s), so I’ve been to maybe a thousand games. What I remember the most is the air raid sirens sounding repeatedly at Candlestick after the big blast. The crowd was ALREADY ballistic, so that only made it pandemonium. Everyone remembers the fog horns at the Stick – but that siren was a far bigger crowd pleaser than the water cannons on the Cove will ever be.

GREAT list, Chris!

Thank you, Papa J. This gives me an opportunity to mention a Giants-Dodgers game I omitted: Monday, July 26, 1982; Giants 6, Dodgers 1. I was working in Twin Falls, Idaho, at the time — my first full-time professional newspaper job — and I arrived at Candlestick after driving all night from the Gem State. Bill Laskey pitched the game of his life, a three-hitter, and Tom O’Malley drove in four runs, three coming on a bases-loaded double off Fernando Valenzuela, who always seemed to dominate the Giants.

Um, the Brian Johnson Game???? September 18, 1997??? Hello?

One more time: I only listed games I attended or covered. I believe I mentioned that in the blog.

We were there for the Pat Burrell game, July 31, 2010. It still gives me chills thinking about the roar of the crowd when Burrell hit that ball out. The other great part about that game, in terms of the LA / SF rivalry, was that Brian Wilson was not available. I’m pretty sure that Guillermo Mota, the former Dodger, had to pitch the 8th and 9th to close it out. Awesome stuff. Good memories! Thanks Chris!

Mike, Rancho Cordova, CA

THANK YOU! Nicely done .

How could you forget the Brian Johnson game?

I didn’t forget the Brian Johnson game; I wasn’t there. I only cited games I attended or covered.

McCovey, McCovey, McCovey:Pinch hitting, first game of a doubleheader, I was sitting about where the football press box is now. Rennie Stennett on first. McCovey ROPES a doubleinto the right field gap, as only McCovey can do, lopes his way to second and Stennet just keeps on running and running and running, til he scores to win the game. Everybody runs to second a pound McCovey. Then, he retires to the dugout, gets to the clubhouse, and 58,000 plus are on their feet, chanting in unison: WE WANT WILLIE, WE WANT WILLIE! Announcer Linsay Nelson says “We are going to stay right here. It takes about 10 minutes, but finally ‘Stretch’ comes out of the dugout and waves his cap. More delirium from the crowd. I’m a Willie McCovey fan for life!!!!!!

That was pretty awesome, wasn’t it?

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