BATTLE BY THE BAY

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Then, it was borough against borough. Now, it is city against city.

Then, it was for a pennant. Now, it is for a division title.

Then, it was Coogan's Bluff and Flatbush Avenue. Now it is the Ravine and the Stick.

But it is always the same. From Durocher and the Duke, the Say-Hey Kid and Sal the Barber, down to Koufax and Drysdale, and Marichal and Cepeda, and Barry and Dusty, and Chan Ho and Hideo, it is the Dodgers and the Giants, one of the century's longest, most bitter sports rivalries.

The current editions of these clubs don't need any historic ties to inflame their passions. The fact that they have been running within reach of each other for weeks now in their race for the National League West title, first one on top, then the other, is reason enough.

Now, with the finish line in sight, they will meet in a two-game showdown series beginning here tonight.

It was only natural that teams representing the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan would become furious rivals in New York in the first half of this century, when baseball was king.

Recreating that rivalry on the West Coast, where those teams relocated in 1958, required two cities that already had little or no regard for one another.

Los Angeles and San Francisco were perfect.

Carmen Policy, president of the San Francisco 49ers, enumerated a few differences while discussing the fierceness of the old 49er-Los Angeles Ram rivalry.

"San Franciscans consider themselves to be stable, solid, articulate, classy and substantive people," Policy said. "Whereas L.A. is viewed to be tinsel, pizazz, Hollywood, trendy and less real."

Trying to get a response from most Angelenos about their northern neighbors is difficult. Most don't think poorly of San Francisco. As a matter of fact, they don't think about the city at all, unless they are planning a vacation there.

But ask those who have been around the Dodgers for many years about the Giants and there is no problem getting a response.

Six members of the Dodger family were asked to pick their most memorable Dodger-Giant game.

DON NEWCOMBE, Former Dodger pitcher, Cy Young Award winner and now the team's director of community relations

He picked the third and final game of a 1951 playoff series between the Dodgers and Giants at New York's Polo Grounds, a game won by the Giants' Bobby Thomson with a ninth-inning home run off Ralph Branca.

"I started that game," Newcombe said. "I remember after I came out in the ninth inning, I was in the shower in the Dodger clubhouse. Now, in the old Polo Grounds, the two clubhouses were next to each other.

"There was a group of reporters waiting outside our clubhouse to interview us when it appeared we were going to win.

"When Bobby Thomson hit the home run, I didn't know it. But when I heard the stampede of reporters running from our clubhouse to theirs, I knew we had lost. I didn't have to ask. I just stayed in the shower for about 45 minutes.

"I remember coming out and here was Ralph Branca sitting on some steps with his head between his legs, crying. I remember looking at him and thinking, 'My God, what baseball does to people.' I didn't realize what you had to do to win a championship.

"It was real competition between the Dodgers and the Giants, but we understood. I remember one time I was told I had to throw at Willie Mays with my first pitch or it would cost me $50.

"I warned him, 'I've got to throw that first pitch at you.'

"He said to me, 'That's OK, I can hit the second pitch.' "

VIN SCULLY, Dodger announcer

He also picked the 1951 game.

Said Scully, "One thing I always remember about that day is seeing a guy down in the stands at the Polo Grounds who had a big horseshoe of flowers that he was holding. And across it was a ribbon that read, 'GIANTS, R.I.P.' for rest in peace.

"I often wonder, when the Giants came back to win, what that guy did with that horseshoe of flowers. That's not something you can hide.

"When it was over, Branca, who was a personal friend of mine, was stretched out on some steps in the clubhouse. And I remember Pee Wee Reese saying, 'The one thing I'll never understand is how this game hasn't made me crazy.' "

BILL RUSSELL, Dodger manager and longtime shortstop

He picked the final day of the 1982 season when Joe Morgan, then a Giant, hit a home run off Dodger Terry Forster at Candlestick Park to eliminate the Dodgers from postseason play.

Said Russell, "I remember watching that ball go over the fence. It was sad, one of the saddest things I've seen on a field.

"The reason I think the rivalry stayed so strong in the years when I played was because we were battling each other for so long in the minors before we ever came to the big leagues. In those days, we were at Spokane and the Giant minor leaguers were at Phoenix. And then we'd face each other as Dodgers and Giants.

FRED CLAIRE, Dodger executive vice president

He chose the last game of the regular season in 1993 when the Dodgers eliminated the Giants from postseason play for a change.

Said Claire, "That game may not seem as important to anyone else from the Dodgers' standpoint, but it was important to me. That game allowed us to finish at .500 for the season after coming off a year in which we lost 99 games.

"I truly believe that we used that game as foundation for what we have accomplished since then. We used that game as a platform for the future.

"I remember Raul Mondesi hitting a home run in that game and then high-fiving everybody in the dugout and then going into the clubhouse, still high-fiving everybody he ran into.

"The rivalry has always been there and it always will be there. It has nothing to do with the attendance. It has nothing to do with the standings, It's the Dodgers and the Giants."

TOM LASORDA, Former Dodger manager and now a vice president

He also picked that last game of the 1993 season.

"That turned things around for us and got us started for the next year," he said.

"You couldn't compare anything with New York, but it's amazing how they carried this rivalry 3,000 miles. When they knocked us out of contention, they'd be jumping for joy, dancing in the streets. So when we beat them in 1993, it was just a payback. We wanted them to know that we were dancing in the streets.

"But, you know, this rivalry between the Dodgers and the Giants starts down in the rookie league. I remember when I managed at Ogden, Utah, we used to have a sign in the clubhouse that said, 'You've got to love the Angels hate the Giants.'

"It was Ogden against Salt Lake, a Giant farm team, and then it was Spokane versus Phoenix, and then Albuquerque versus Phoenix.

"I would tell my players, 'You are going to carry that rivalry with you as long as you are going to be with the Dodgers.' "

"I think the world of [San Francisco Manager] Dusty [Baker], who played for me, and Peter Magowan is an outstanding owner and a good friend, but I still love the rivalry.

"The Giant fans up there hate anything about Los Angeles. Not just the Dodgers. They hate Los Angeles, period. You could get 14,000 to come out on a Thursday for the Atlanta Braves, but 35,000 would come on Friday for the Dodgers.

"When I would walk from the clubhouse to the dugout up there, none of players wanted to walk with me because of the way the fans booed. I would take my hat off and blow them kisses and get them madder. It was all in fun. It was great."

JOHN ROSEBORO, Former Dodger catcher who now works for National League

He picked the 1965 game in which Giant pitcher Juan Marichal attacked him with a bat.

"Marichal had knocked down a couple of our guys, [Maury] Wills and [Ron] Fairly, so we had to retaliate," Roseboro said.

"When Marichal came up to bat, I tried a knockdown from behind the plate, throwing the ball close to his nose when I returned it to the pitcher.

"I expected Marichal to attack me in some way. If he had said anything to me, I had studied karate, and I was ready to annihilate him.

"But once I got hit by the bat, I lost my karate instructions and I haven't used them since.

"Once everybody came out, I remember turning into a street fighter. I remember trying to get to Marichal. He was at the mound using his bat as a sword to hold people off.

"I remember a gash on the side of my head and blood in my eye.

"I remember Willie Mays telling to me to stop fighting, because my eye was out.

"I remember walking across the field, and the fans yelling out to me, and a police escort to the Dodger plane.

"I remember, when we got to New York, going on a show with Howard Cosell and him telling me what a terrible thing had happened. And then later, Marichal went on Cosell's show and he said the same things to him and took Marichal's side.

"But I don't think the Giants and the Dodgers are the same anymore. These are teams made up of guys from other teams. They may have heard of the rivalry, but they don't have the same feeling as guys who played against each other in this rivalry year after year. They could not have the same feeling.

"The Giants went to such extremes in those days. They would let the grass grow long up there to slow balls down, and they would wet down the area around first base so Wills couldn't use his speed.

"Add that to all the wind and the fog and the cold, and those nights up there were among the worst nights of your life."

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