The Dodgers-Giants rivalry has had everything — except, until now, a postseason meeting

Dodgers' Steve Finley celebrates with teammates after hitting a grand slam.
Dodgers’ Steve Finley celebrates with teammates after hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the San Francisco and clinch the National League West on Oct. 2, 2004, at Dodger Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Dodgers-Giants sparring has begun.

Over semantics.

A small furor broke out on social media not long after the Dodgers’ thrilling 3-1 walkoff win over the St. Louis Cardinals to advance to a National League Division Series against San Francisco. At issue is whether this will be the first postseason series between the Dodgers and Giants. The two arch-foes have twice faced each other in a tiebreaker series, most famously in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard Round the World to send the Giants to the World Series. But a playoff and a postseason are not always the same thing, and the 1951 and ’62 Dodgers-Giants tiebreaker series are counted as regular-season playoffs, which gave the winner entrée into the postseason.

Got that?

Not at issue is the magnitude of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry. Here’s a look at some of the most memorable shared history between the two franchises.



Bill Terry, player-manager of the New York Giants, is shown in posed action in New York, Sept. 14, 1933.
New York Giants player-manager Bill Terry in 1933
(Associated Press)

Before the season, a reporter asks New York Giants Manager Bill Terry to sum up the competition. Terry neglects to mention the perennial league doormat and is asked, “What about Brooklyn?”

Terry’s response: “Brooklyn? Are they still in the league?”

With two games to go in the season, the Giants are tied with St. Louis and their Gashouse Gang for first place. Both of the Giants’ games are against Brooklyn, who enter the series 69-81 and 23 1/2 games out of first. The Dodgers win both games, proving they were indeed still in the league, and the Giants finish two games short of the pennant.



While not a postseason series (see above), it had all the drama of one. The Dodgers and Giants end the season with identical 96-58 records, necessitating a best-of-three series to determine the pennant.

Game 1: The Giants win 3-1 with the key blow a two-run home run by Bobby Thomson off of Ralph Branca in the fourth inning.


Game 2: The Dodgers win a 10-0 rout as they get homers from Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Andy Pafko and Rube Walker.

The October Dodgers are back and will now meet those gawd-awful San Francisco Giants in a postseason series for the first time in the teams’ 131-year rivalry.

Oct. 6, 2021

Game 3: The Dodgers take a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. The Giants’ Alvin Dark and Don Mueller lead off with singles. Monte Irvin pops to first and Whitey Lockman doubles to left-center, scoring Dark with Mueller going to third. Dodger manager Chuck Dressen has two pitchers warming up in the bullpen, Carl Erskine and Branca, the Game 1 starter. When he calls to the bullpen, coach Clyde Sukeforth informs him, “They’re both ready, however Erskine is bouncing his overhand curve.”

So Dressen goes with Branca to replace Don Newcombe. On Branca’s second pitch, Bobby Thomson homers to left for the victory. In 2017, MLB names it the most iconic home run in baseball history.



Giants manager Alvin Dark, left, and Dodgers manager Walter Alston shake hands.
Giants manager Alvin Dark, left, and Dodgers manager Walter Alston shake hands before the start of a National League pennant playoff game Oct. 1, 1962, at Candlestick Park.
(Sal Veder / Associated Press)


Another three-game playoff series to determine the NL champion.

Game 1: The Dodgers’ main threat is Maury Wills, who stole a record 104 bases that season. Before Game 1, the Giants heavily water the dirt around first base to stop Wills from stealing. The Giants win, 8-0, defeating Sandy Koufax.

Game 2: Tied 7-7 going into the bottom of the ninth, Wills leads off with a walk, followed by a walk to Jim Gilliam. Daryl Spencer hit for Duke Snider and laid down a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners. Tommy Davis was walked intentionally, then Ron Fairly hit a sacrifice fly to win the game.

Game 3: Another heart-breaking ending. The Dodgers lead 6-4 going into the top of the ninth. Ed Roebuck is pitching for the Dodgers, not Ralph Branca, but the result is similar. Matty Alou leads off with a single and is forced at second on Harvey Kuenn’s grounder. Willie McCovey and Felipe Alou walk to load the bases. Willie Mays singles to center, scoring Kuenn.

That leads to a controversial moment. Dodgers manager Walter Alston has Stan Williams and Don Drysdale ready to pitch. Drysdale is the Dodgers’ ace who would go on to win the Cy Young Award that season. But Alston tells Drysdale, “I’m saving you to start Game 1 against the Yankees.” Duke Snider talks about it in the book “True Blue” by Steve Delsohn.


Their roster is more unsung than the Dodgers’, but the Giants are experienced, have an outstanding bullpen and optimize the platoon advantage.

Oct. 7, 2021

“I’m sitting next to Drysdale on the bench,” Snider said, “and I tell him, ‘What are you sitting here for? Go tell Walt you’ll warm up and pitch the ninth inning.’ “Drysdale talked to Alston and came back. I asked him what Alston said. He said, ‘Walt said I’m pitching against the Yankees tomorrow in the World Series.’ I said ‘If we don’t win, there is no World Series.’ “

Williams comes in with the bases loaded, one out, and the Dodgers clinging to a 4-3 lead. Orlando Cepeda hit a sacrifice fly to right to tie the score. Williams intentionally walks Ed Bailey to load the bases again, then walks Jim Davenport to give the Giants a 5-4 lead. They tack on another run when second baseman Larry Burright makes an error on Jose Pagan’s grounder. The Giants bring in Billy Pierce to finish it out, and he retires the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the ninth. But the fireworks are just beginning.

“It got ugly,” Dodgers catcher John Roseboro said. “Drysdale had volunteered to go in and Alston wanted to save him. So we were irate. And there was champagne in our clubhouse, there was whiskey, all the celebration stuff they couldn’t get out. So you had a lot of player drinking and cussing. Then Alston went into his office and wouldn’t come out. Guys were yelling ‘Come out, you gutless SOB…….”



San Francisco pitcher Juan Marichal (27) swings a bat at Dodgers catcher John Roseboro as Sandy Koufax tries to break it up
San Francisco pitcher Juan Marichal (27) swings a bat at Dodgers catcher John Roseboro as Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, right, tries to break it up Aug. 22, 1965, at Candlestick Park.
(Robert H. Houston / Associated Press)


Juan Marichal of the Giants gets mad when Dodgers catcher John Roseboro almost hits him with a throw when returning the ball to pitcher Sandy Koufax. Marichal takes his bat and hits Roseboro across the head in one of the ugliest scenes in baseball history.

It started when Marichal threw at a couple of Dodgers in the first two innings of the Aug. 22 game. With Marichal due to bat , manager Walter Alston sent Koufax to the mound with one order: Hit Marichal with a pitch. There was one problem though: Koufax didn’t always have the best control; he was afraid if he threw at Marichal, he might hit him in the head and kill him. So an alternate plan was hatched. Koufax threw a strike, then threw one high and inside. Marichal glared at him, and that is when the new plan went into effect. Roseboro threw the ball back to Koufax, but threw it as hard as he could right past Marichal’s head, and, according to Marichal, nicked him in the ear.

At that point, Marichal turned and said something to Roseboro, who took a step toward Marichal. The Giants’ pitcher responded by swinging his bat and hitting Roseboro in the head. Blood started spurting everywhere as players from both teams ran toward home plate. The enraged Dodgers were trying to get at Marichal, the stunned Giants were trying to protect their teammate, when one man walked over to Roseboro, who by this time wanted a piece of Marichal himself.

In front of the largest MLB crowd this season, the Dodgers sparked hope that a repeat World Series championship is possible.

Oct. 6, 2021

“John, they put your eye out,” Willie Mays said to Roseboro. Alston and several other Dodgers were convinced Marichal had knocked Roseboro’s eye out, since the space where his left eye would be was covered in blood. Mays walked Roseboro off the field and into the Dodgers clubhouse as the Giants hustled Marichal into their clubhouse. Players on both teams credited Mays, probably the most respected player in baseball at that point, with preventing the conflict from escalating into a full-fledged riot.

Roseboro suffered a two-inch gash in the hairline just above his forehead. Blood from the gash streamed down into his left eye, which was uninjured.

Dodgers trainer Bill Buhler said Roseboro “had a knot in the middle of his skull that it would take your whole hand to cover.”


Marichal was suspended for eight games and fined $1,750.

Roseboro missed two games because of his injury. He sued Marichal after the season for $110,000 in damages. The case was settled in 1970, with the financial terms undisclosed.



San Francisco's Joe Morgan is congratulated at the plate by teammates Guy Sularz and Bob Brenly.
San Francisco’s Joe Morgan is congratulated at the plate by teammates Guy Sularz and Bob Brenly after hitting a three-run home-run against the Dodgers on Oct. 4, 1982, at Candlestick Park.
(Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

The Dodgers need to win the final game of the season to force a one-game playoff with the Atlanta Braves. With the score tied, 2-2, and two men on in the bottom of the seventh inning, second baseman Joe Morgan hits a three-run homer against Terry Forster and the Giants win, 5-3.



The Dodgers begin the final weekend tied with Atlanta for first place, but lose two of three to the Giants in San Francisco to finish one game back.



In the final season before the wild-card spot is introduced, the Giants need to defeat the Dodgers on the last day of the season to force a one-game playoff with the Braves for the NL West title. Rookie Mike Piazza hits two long home runs and the Dodgers win, 12-1.



San Francisco's Barry Bonds smiles as he begins to round the bases after hitting his 73rd home run of the season.
San Francisco’s Barry Bonds smiles as he begins to round the bases after hitting his 73rd home run of the season Oct. 7, 2001, against the Dodgers.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

The Giants go into the final weekend of the season two games behind Arizona with three games to play, all against the Dodgers. Needing a sweep, the Giants lose two of three and are eliminated from postseason contention. Barry Bonds sets the single-season home run record during the series, hitting homers 71, 72 and 73.




Dodgers' Steve Finley follows through for a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants.
Dodgers’ Steve Finley follows through for a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning as San Francisco Giants catcher Yorvil Torrealba watches on Oct. 2, 2004, at Dodger Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Giants are two games behind the Dodgers with two to play, both against L.A. With a chance to cut the lead to one game, the Giants take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. The Dodgers tie the score on two singles, three walks and an error, bringing Steve Finley to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. Finley hits a grand slam to right field, giving the Dodgers the game and the division title.