California Baseball

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Something old and something new highlighted major league baseball in 1958. A familiar development occurred when the New York Yankees regained the world championship.
The new look found the Brooklyn Dodgers becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Giants becoming the San Francisco Giants as these major league teams shifted to California. While both teams awaited the removal of various barriers necessary to pave the way for construction of new stadiums, the Dodgers performed in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Giants in Seals stadium. The Coliseum, more adapted to football and track than to baseball, was the object of considerable controversy because of its short home run target in left field. However, the matter re-solved itself as a total of 193 home runs were hit in the Coliseum during the season.

The two teams in New York competed fiercely, and they were often the two best teams in the National League. Great players emerged from this rivalry, as the teams had to constantly recruit better and better teams to match each other. It also aroused a great interest in the sport in New York. The rivalry was very beneficial for baseball in many ways, but it was never really the same in California.
This move to California was very much a turning point for baseball. It gave the Yankees dominance of New York in popularity, defused the long standing New York rivalry, and disgruntled millions of Dodgers and Giants fans in New York City. Now, only baseball old-timers will remember the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.

The Dodgers led the geographic expansion of baseball west of the Mississippi, starting the 1958 season at the Los Angeles Coliseum. They moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Some of the veterans of the Ebbets Field era were wearing out and the team was rebuilt around an incomparable pitching staff led by Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and veterans Claude Osteen and Ron Perranoski.
Koufax, whose career was cut short by an arthritic elbow, might well have put together the best six-year span any pitcher has ever had. From 1961-66 he went 129-47, leading the league in wins in 1963, 65-66, ERA from 1962-66, and strikeouts in 1961, 63, 65-66. The Dodgers rode this era of pitching and defense to world titles in 1959, 63 and 65, plus the pennant in 1966. Their next trip to the World Series came in 1974, but they lost to Oakland. Walter Alston, who had managed the team for 23 seasons, retired in 1976 and handed the reins to Tommy Lasorda. Supported by a star-studded infield (Steve Garvey, Dave Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey) that played together for eight seasons, longest in the game's history, and along with sluggers Reggie Smith and Dusty Baker, the Dodgers won consecutive pennants in 1977-78 but lost to the Yankees in the World Series.


Even with a surprising 2010 world championship the Giants have not enjoyed the success in California they had in New York, winning only four pennants (1962, 1989, 2002 and 2010). They did flex considerable muscle during their first decade out west. Sluggers such as Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Jim Ray Hart, Bobby Bonds and Harvey Kuenn joined Mays in slamming baseballs all over windswept Candlestick Park. High-kicking mound ace Juan Marichal kept the Giants in contention almost every season. The 1962 team featured Mays (49 home runs, 141 runs batted in, .304) and Cepeda (35 home runs, 114 runs batted in, .306) in their prime, although they lost a seven-game squeaker of a Series to the Yankees. The 1989 team, managed by Roger Craig and led by Kevin Mitchell's big bat (47 home runs, 125 runs batted in, .281), were swept by Oakland in a Series remembered more for an earthquake than for the games themselves. The Giants brought in free agent Barry Bonds in 1993, and his big 2002 season (46 home runs, 110 runs batted in and a league leading .370 average) propelled the Giants to the wild card slot and the pennant. The Giants again found disappointment in the World Series, however. They led the California Angles three games to two, only to blow a late 5-0 lead in Game Six and lose Game Seven 4-1.

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--> This is a picture on the site. It is the former logo of the New York Giants.

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--> This is a picture on the site. It is the Dodgers logo.