Never in professional baseball has a team so endured its fan base. Debuting in the National League in 1890, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms surprised the league with an 86-43 record and won the National League Pennant. The name Bridegrooms came from the fact that seven members of the team were married very close together in 1888. The next name incarnation, “Trolley Dodgers” was used to describe the team because of the complex maze of trolley cars that made their way through Brooklyn, New York. Other names that also stuck with the team were Foutz’s Fillies, Hanlon’s Suberbas and Ward’s Wonders. The name Dodgers was used permanently by the time the team moved to the National League in the American Association in 1890. They officially became the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932
The next championships for the Dodgers came before and after the turn of the century as the team won the National League Pennant in 1899 and 1900. There would be a 16-season gap before the Dodgers were again crowned champions. In between that period of time, a host of exciting players have graced Dodger blue. Some of the names include Pitcher Nap Rucker who was nicknamed Napoleon and who played with Ty Cobb on the Ashville Tourists team in the South Atlantic League. Another exciting player was Zach Wheat who still leads the club with most games played at 2,322.
The team was relocated to Ebbets Field in 1913 which was located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Owned by the Dodgers, the field also attracted professional football as both the New York Brickley Giants and the Brooklyn Lions used the field in 1921 and 1926 respectively. In 1914, the Dodgers landed Wilbert Robinson (Uncle Robbie) and he would stay on through the 1931 season. When 1916 rolled around, the Dodgers (now also known as the Brooklyn Robins) found themselves in their first true World Series as Casey Stengel (Casey at the Bat) faced Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers/Robins would lose the series four games to one. It would be four seasons before the Dodgers returned to championship baseball.
The 1920 World Series (Cleveland Indians Vs Brooklyn Dodgers) was famous for a few reasons; the only World Series Triple Play, the first World Series Grand Slam and the first World Series Home Run by a Pitcher all happened in game 5 of the 7-game series. The Dodgers would lose as the Indians as they were playing for the memory of a teammate, Ray Chapman, who was killed by an errant pitch to the head earlier in the season. It would be another 21 seasons before the franchise would gain play for a piece of the pennant.
The 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers were led by manager Leo Durocher and compiled a record of 100-54 en route to their first NL pennant in 21 years. It was also the first time the Dodgers would meet their soon to be rival New York Yankees for the World Series title. This team featured stars like National League MVP Pete Reiser (who led the league in 5 categories), Whit Wyatt and Kirby Higbe. The Yankees would win the series in five games and captured their 9th title. Nickname the “Subway Series” the two teams will go on to meet 11 times in future World Series events.
With WWII taking its toll on the men of the United States, baseball also felt the full effects and many Dodger players would be called to military duty. After the war, the Dodgers reassembled and came back with a vengeance posting a 96-60 record in 1945. This record tied the St. Louis Cardinals and the first ever playoff series was held with the Cardinals coming out on top. Two seasons later, the Dodgers would beat out the Cards and were led by Jackie Robinson. They would meet the New York Yankees and would again fall in seven games. The Dodgers would return to the Fall Classic in ’49, winning their third pennant of the decade. That same season, Robinson was named the N.L. MVP and Pitcher Don Newcombe won Rookie of the Year honors.
The Dodger franchise, long rumored to be planning a move to the West Coast, did so at the end of the 1957 season as they packed up and headed to Los Angles. In the wake of the relocation, three PCL teams were also forced to move. The New York Giants moved to San Francisco ( to keep the heated Dodger/Giants rivalry alive), The Hollywood Stars moved to Salt Lake City, the Los Angeles Angels moved to Spokane, Washington and the San Francisco Seals moved to Phoenix, Arizona.
Championships in Los Angles would come within two seasons as the Dodgers posted an 88-68 record and met up against the Chicago White Sox (94-60). The series would last six games with the Dodgers coming out on top to claim their 2nd World Series. They would return to the big game in 1963 and again faced the New York Yankees sweeping them in four games for their 3rd World Series Title and were led by Sandy Koufax.
The 1965 season for the Dodgers featured a team that posted a 97-67 record and also boasted a double headed pitching monster in Koufax and Don Drysdale along with a bullpen that touted Ron Perranoski (101 saves and 54 wins with the Dodgers in six seasons). Other players included hitters Tommy Davis, Willie Davis and Frank Howard. The team also featured All Star Catcher John Roseboro. The World Series featured the Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins and the Twins went seven games before succumbing to the Dodgers. The Dodgers would repeat as NL Champions and compete in the 1966 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles who took the 1966 crown.
The decade of the ‘70’s were fruitful for the Dodgers as they won three NL pennants, made three World Series Appearances en route to winning 910 games. Players on those rosters included the likes of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russel, Ron Cey, Steve Yeager, Don Sutton, Tommy John, Dusty Baker, Claude Olsteen, Andy Messersmith, Burt Hooton and Jim Brewer. Even with this collection of future Hall of Fame Players, the Dodgers failed to take home a World Series Title.
When pitching Fernando Valenzuela joined the team in 1981, little did the Dodger faithful or even the Dodger coaches know what they had. After being pressed into service in relief of the injured Jerry Reuss, Valenzuela pitched a shutout on his way to 8 straight wins. A legend was born and Southern California and his home country of Mexico all caught Fernando Fever. Valenzuela would go on to win be named Rookie of the Year and won the Cy Young Award, a first for a pitcher. After defeating the Montreal Expos in the 1981 NLCS, the Dodgers proceeded on to beat the New York Yankees in six games to claim the World Series crown. The league split the series MVP three ways with Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager. The Dodgers went on to win two more NL West titles in 1983 and 1985 but both times lost in the NLCS. In 1988, Valenzuela again won the Cy Young Award by breaking legend Don Drysdale’s MLB record, tossing 59 consecutive scoreless innings. To get to the 1988 World Series, the Dodgers had to go through the power house team of the New York Mets in the NLCS and it took seven games to do so. They moved on to face the even more powerful team of the Oakland Athletics which featured Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. The team featured league MVP rookie Kirk Gibson, who injury was ridden by the time the Series came up. It was Gibson who, as a pinch hitter, pulled off a two-run walk off home run to win the series 5-4. Gibson was sporting an assortment of injuries to include a strained MCL on one leg and a pulled hamstring on the other. The Dodgers would not win another post-season game again until 2004.
In 2004, team owners News Corp sold the team to a Boston Real Estate guru Frank McCourt who hired on Paul DePosesta as the teams new GM. The Dodgers would win 93 games and capture the NL West title for the first time in 9 seasons but would not get past the eventual NLCS Champion St. Louis Cardinals. In 2007, the Dodgers hired on Joe Torre as the teams new manager and by 2008, had an almost entirely new team with players such as Kiroki Kuroda and Andrew Jones. Top prospects made their way up the ladder to include Clayton Kersheaw and the team also made a series of trades to try and improve their roster. One such deal sent 3B Andy LaRoche and P Bryan Morris to the Pirates and Jason Bay to the Red Sox in exchange for OF Manny Ramirez. The team would clinch the NLWD title in late September and faced the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS which they swept in three games. In the NLCS, the Dodgers faced the Philadelphia Phillies, losing to them four to one.
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