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Los Angeles Dodgers
From BR Bullpen
Formerly known as Brooklyn Dodgers (1932-1957), Brooklyn Baseball Club (1883-1931)
Nicknames have included Dodger Blue, Dem Bums (1940s-1950s), Hanlon's Superbas (1899-1910), Brooklyn Foutz' Fillies (1893-96), Ward's Wonders (1890s), Church City Nines (1880s), Brooklyn Kings (1880s), Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers (1884-88)
Franchise Record: (through 2012) 10,305-9,354-133-3
Post Season Record: 78-99-1
American Association Pennant: 1 (1889)
Ballparks: Washington Park I (May 12, 1883-May 4, 1889) (2,000), Ridgewood Park (May 2, 1886-October 6, 1889 Sun.), Washington Park II (May 30-October 30, 1890) (3,000), Eastern Park (April 21, 1891-October 2, 1897), Washington Park III (April 30, 1898-October 5, 1912) (18,000), Ebbets Field (April 9, 1913-October 24, 1957) (32,000), Roosevelt Stadium (April 19, 1956-September 3, 1957) (24,500), Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (April 18, 1958-September 20, 1961) (94,600), Dodger Stadium (April 10, 1962-Present) (56,000)
Franchise Players: Zack Wheat, Burleigh Grimes, Dazzy Vance, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Don Sutton, Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Mike Piazza, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp
 Team History
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a baseball team located in Los Angeles, CA who play in the Western Division of the National League. The team was formerly the Brooklyn Dodgers and traces its origins all the way back to the 1884 Brooklyn Atlantics, who played in the American Association. Those years are detailed in the Brooklyn Dodgers article.
The Dodgers moved from Brooklyn, NY to Los Angeles, CA in 1958. In doing so, they opened a whole new geographic horizon for Major League Baseball. The move, highly-controversial at the time, found its origins in the need to replace the team's long-time Brooklyn ballpark, Ebbets Field. Owner Walter O'Malley could not reach a deal on obtaining land and financing for a new ballpark with the borough of Brooklyn and New York City, and announced his intention to move to California late in the 1957 season. Many people have since speculated that, even if O'Malley was genuinely interested in finding a New York-based solution to his problem in the early going, he quickly saw the golden opportunity presented by moving to the West Coast, and was pleased to blame New York officials for a move he had in fact been planning for a long time. It would have been problematic for the Dodgers to be the sole team on the West Coast, so O'Malley then convinced fellow owner Horace Stoneham of the New York Giants, who was also having trouble finding a replacement solution for the aging Polo Grounds, to join him on the other side of the country. Thus, when the 1958 season opened, the National League had two California based-teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers played their first four seasons in the Los Angeles Coliseum, a bandbox of a stadium that had a huge seating capacity. Its unorthodox dimensions made for some strange statistics, particularly the "Moonshots", a specialty of journeyman slugger Wally Moon, towering fly balls that would land barely behind the short left field fence and be counted as home runs. By 1961, the Dodgers no longer had the Los Angeles market to themselves, as the rival American League placed an expansion team in the city, the Angels. However, by that time, the Dodgers had already established themselves as the big brothers in the relationship, with the Angels condemned to play second fiddle. The Dodgers embodied tradition and stability: one owner - the O'Malley family, until the team was sold to the Fox Broadcasting Corporation in 1998; one ballpark, Dodger Stadium, immediately considered a jewel upon its opening in 1962; only two managers from the move until 1996, Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda; one spring training complex, "Dodgertown" in Vero Beach, FL; one constant uniform; and most importantly, one winning tradition. The Angels had none of this stability and would always be upstarts, competing for media attention. That image of traditional Dodger excellence would last until the last years of the 20th century.
The Dodgers had been the strongest team in the National League in the late 1940s and the early 1950s while playing in Brooklyn, finally winning a World Series in 1955, but the Boys of Summer were showing signs of age by the time the move to LA took place: Jackie Robinson had retired, as had pitchers Carl Erskine and Preacher Roe; Roy Campanella suffered a tragic automobile accident that winter that left him paralyzed; and Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider and Carl Furillo were on the decline. Only Gil Hodges and Jim Gilliam were still productive players, and Johnny Podres and Clem Labine were the mainstays of the pitching staff. However, two young pitchers who had made their debut in Brooklyn would become huge stars in California, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. They would blossom particularly after the move to Dodger Stadium in 1962, a park tailor-made for power pitchers of their kind. Still, even in a rebuilding mode, the Dodgers matched the number of World Championships won in Brooklyn within two years of having moved. After a mediocre first season in 1958, the team took advantage of a dismal managerial performance by the Milwaukee Braves' Fred Haney to steal a pennant in 1959, after winning a three-game playoff; it was a makeshift team, with a lot of weaknesses, but they had the luck of not facing the New York Yankees in the World Series, something which no Brooklyn team had done since the days of the Robins in the 1910s. Facing the "Go-Go" Chicago White Sox, they rode the hot arm of reliever Larry Sherry and key pinch-hits by Carl Furillo into a surprise championship.
If the 1959 championship was a bit of a fluke, the Dodgers of the 1960s were anything but. They were the class of the league from 1962 to 1966, winning three pennants and two Championships during the period, while falling just short of another pennant when they lost a playoff to the Giants in 1962. That was the year when shortstop Maury Wills took baseball by storm, stealing over 100 bases, scoring over 100 runs and winning the MVP Award as a result. Pitchers Koufax and Drysdale came fully into their own that year, and a tradition of winning based on pitching, defense and speed - something many teams would try to imitate, but with less success - was born. Apart from the two stud pitchers, the Dodgers did not have any superstars, but they were packed with excellent players just below the Hall of Fame level, who would have very long careers in the majors: Wills, C Johnny Roseboro, OF Willie Davis and Tommy Davis, 1B/OF Ron Fairly, pitchers Claude Osteen, Stan Williams and Ron Perranoski. Towards the end of the period, they were joined by 1B Wes Parker, 2B Jim Lefebvre and P Bill Singer. In 1963, they rode Koufax's arm to a pennant, then swept the Yankees in the World Series. In 1965, it took them seven games to dispose of the Minnesota Twins in the World Series, but they clinched their third World Championship in only their 8th season in Los Angeles. They were swept in the 1966 World Series by a dominant Baltimore Orioles pitching staff, marking the end of an era. Koufax retired after the Series, victim of an arthritic elbow after having won the Cy Young Award three of the previous four seasons and pitching four no-hitters, including a perfect game. Wills was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Drysdale lost effectiveness, retiring in 1969. The late 1960s Dodgers teams were known as the "Mod Squad", after a popular television show of the day, but in spite of their media profile, with a number of players making appearances on the television series being filmed around town, they played at a level a notch below their predecessors.
The Dodgers came back to the forefront in 1974, when they won their first division title (the National League had been split into an eastern and western division as a result of the expansion of 1969). That was the year when the team put together its famous infield, which would last until the 1981 season: 1B Steve Garvey, 2B Davey Lopes, SS Bill Russell and 3B Ron Cey. All four were solid contributors, but, like their predecessors from the great 1960s teams, were a notch below Hall of Fame level. However, Garvey was considered one of baseball's very best players at the time - he won the 1974 National League Most Valuable Player Award - although his shortfalls would become more apparent with the development of sabermetrics. Other solid performers at the time, and long-time Dodgers, included OF Willie Crawford, C Steve Yeager and P Jim Brewer and Al Downing. One of these solid but unspectacular performers, P Don Sutton, would eventually make the Hall of Fame, as he lasted long enough to clear 300 wins by a comfortable margin. He was in fact a dominant pitcher for a few years from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. Atypically, the 1974 pennant-winners were fueled by three players who would not be long-time Dodgers: pitcher Andy Messersmith, who left via free agency after a historic arbitrator's decision following the 1975 season; reliever Mike Marshall, who was the 1974 National League Cy Young Award winner after pitching in a record 106 games but who would be traded midway through the 1976 season; and OF Jimmy Wynn, who joined Messersmith in Atlanta in 1976. The 1974 team disposed of the Pirates in the NLCS before falling to the Oakland Athletics in five games in the first West Coast World Series in history.
Late in the 1976 season, coach Tommy Lasorda became manager in place of Walter Alston, who had held the job with successive one-year contracts since 1954, and the Dodgers went on another romp. With their great infield having its best years, and by using one of the first five-man starting rotations in major league history, the Dodgers won their division handily in 1977 and 1978, fell to the Houston Astros in a one-game playoff in 1980, then reached the postseason in the strike-shortened 1981 season under that season's unique playoff format. The Dodgers added OF Reggie Smith, Dusty Baker and Rick Monday - all acquired via trades - to their infield core, and rode a starting pitching rotation consisting of Sutton, Tommy John, back from the surgery that bears his name, Burt Hooton, Rick Rhoden and Doug Rau. Their bullpens tended to be weak, but the front-line talent was unmatched. In 1977, they were the first team to have four 30-home run hitters in its line-up, with Garvey, Cey, Baker and Smith pulling the trick. They disposed of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS, but fell victim to a historic one-man performance by Reggie Jackson in the World Series, losing 4 games to 2 to their old ennemies the Yankees. They repeated as National League pennant winners in 1978, once again disposing of the Phillies in the NLCS, and took a two game to none lead in the World Series, facing the same Yankees, before some unheralded players like Bucky Dent, Brian Doyle and Jim Beattie led the Yankees to another World Championship. The series was marked by a famous late-game confrontation between Reggie Jackson and 21-year-old rookie Bob Welch, won by Welch who saved Game 2 by striking out Reggie, although the Dodgers went on to lose the next four games. Welch was the first of a run of rookies who would emerge to renew the team's line-up over the next several seasons. Four of them would win the National League Rookie of the Year Award in succession: Rick Sutcliffe in 1979, Steve Howe in 1980, Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 and Steve Sax in 1982.
After an off-year in 1979, and falling just short of a pennant in 1980, the Dodgers got their revenge over the Yankees in the 1981 World Series. It was the year of "Fernandomania", as the pudgy Mexican left-hander with the great screwball took baseball by storm by winning his first seven starts, five of them by shutout. Valenzuela won the Cy Young Award in addition to the Rookie of the Year title during that strike-shortened season. They came back from two games down to beat the Astros in the Division Series, then staved off elimination twice to get past the young Montreal Expos in the NLCS; that series was decided when Rick Monday hit a 9th inning home run off Expos' ace Steve Rogers, making a rare relief appearance, in the deciding game, after Valenzuela and Ray Burris had been locked up in a great pitching duel for 8 innings. The World Series were anticlimactic, as the Yankees, and especially their bullpen, played poorly, with George Frazier tying a record by losing three games, and the Dodgers won 4 games to 2. They repeated as NL West champions in 1983 and 1985, but lost the Championship Series both years, being pounded by a red-hot Gary Matthews of the Phillies in 1983, then seeing Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark hit key home runs to propel the Cardinals past them in 1985. By then, the team was getting clearly older. Lopes, Garvey, Cey and Russell left or retired in that order, and the new group of players was not quite so good: Steve Sax had well-publicized problems with throwing to first base; young sluggers Greg Brock and Mike Marshall failed to turn into the expected perennial all-stars, while Pedro Guerrero, perhaps the best hitter of the 1980s, missed almost the entire 1986 season to injury, then was traded midway through the 1988 season. Pitchers Alejandro Pena and Tom Niedenfuer had their ups and down, Welch and Howe ran into problems with alcohol and drugs, respectively, while Valenzuela failed to maintain his dominant level of performance into the second half of the decade. A number of pricey free agent signings went bust, notably those of pitchers Don Stanhouse, Dave Goltz, Rick Honeycutt and Terry Forster. Still, those were not only successful years on the field, but off the field as well: the team consistently led the league in attendance, becoming the first team to top 3 million in annual attendance in the late 1970s, and then consistently repeating that figure over the next decade.
By 1987, the Dodgers were a sad-sack bunch, using a group of over-the-hill players to finish 73-89. Yet, they won not only the pennant, but another World Series title in 1988, by catching lightning in a bottle. That lightning took the form of free agent OF Kirk Gibson, a victim of collusion in previous years, who put together a great season in a very tough hitting environment to win the 1988 National League Most Valuable Player Award. He was joined by P Orel Hershiser, who blossomed into stardom by beating a record set by Don Drysdale in 1968 for most consecutive scoreless innings pitched. Beyond those two, the supporting cast included some fine players such as Sax, C Mike Scioscia and P Tim Belcher and Tim Leary, but also some no-names who contributed when it counted: Mickey Hatcher hit one home run all year but two in the World Series; Alfredo Griffin and Mike Davis both hit below .200 in the regular season, but had fine post-seasons. The Dodgers beat the New York Mets in a closely-fought NLCS, then upset the heavily-favored Oakland Athletics in the World Series when a gimpy-legged Gibson, who could hardly walk by that point, somehow drove a pitch from closer Dennis Eckersley beyond the fence at Dodger Stadium to win Game One in dramatic fashion. The demoralized A's lost the series in five games, the last Dodger championship of the century. With that win, the Dodgers became the only team to win two World Series during the 1980s.
The Dodgers tried to stem the tide of aging by bringing in more veterans over the following seasons, but even if Eddie Murray and Willie Randolph had some fine moments, the team was lacking in quality overall. They were caught and passed by the Atlanta Braves in the 1991 pennant race, then had a slight revival when they went on a second string of Rookies of the Year, this one lasting five years: Eric Karros in 1992, Mike Piazza in 1993, Raul Mondesi in 1994, Hideo Nomo in 1995, and Todd Hollandsworth in 1996. Of the five, only Piazza was a genuine superstar, and he led the Dodgers to playoff appearances in 1995 and 1996, but both encounters ended with first-round exits. In those years, the Dodgers were one of the first teams to look to the Far East for talent, bringing in Chan Ho Park from South Korea in 1994 and Nomo from Japan in 1995. That tradition would be continued in later years with the signings of P Takashi Saito and Kazuhisa Ishii from Japan, and of Hong-Chih Kuo and Chin-Lung Hu from Taiwan. It was in fact the next step in a fine tradition that had seen the Dodgers be pioneers in integration in the 1940s, and in scouting Latin America and especially the Dominican Republic, with legendary scout Ralph Avila, after the Cuban player pipeline was shut down in the early 1960s.
1996 really marked a turning point for the Dodgers. First, it would be their last postseason appearance until 2004. In mid-year, Lasorda resigned as manager, taking over for general manager Fred Claire and being replaced by his former shortstop Bill Russell. Just as it looked like Russell would be in place for another long managerial tenure, he was fired midway through 1997, starting a merry-go-round of managers completely out of character for the franchise. Lasorda's tenure as GM was disastrous, but his successor, Kevin Malone, became infamous for running his mouth at the media and at opposite fans, and for bad signings and trades. The dead weight from that era included the enormously unpopular trade of Piazza for the grumpy Gary Sheffield, the high-priced acquisition of underperforming pitcher Carlos Perez, and the costly but unproductive signings of Kevin Brown, Darren Dreifort and Andy Ashby... In 1998, Peter O'Malley sold the team to Rupert Murdoch's Fox Broadcasting Corporation, and the aura of class and excellence that had accompanied the team for decades seemed to instantly turn into one of tawdriness. The depression ended with an unexpected savior in the person of closer Eric Gagné, a pitcher built like a hockey defenseman - which he in fact had been - who strung together three absolutely outstanding seasons from 2002 to 2004, putting the fun back into Dodger Stadium. The renaissance also coincided with Fox's sale of the team to Frank McCourt. That last year, the Dodgers returned to the postseason, but suffered another early exit, and Gagné, bothered by injuries, was never effective afterwards. However, the Dodgers began another roll. They returned to the postseason in 2006, on the back of another French-Canadian, rookie catcher Russell Martin, who became the heart of a team once again built around youth and home-grown players. These included OF Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, 1B James Loney, and P Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton and Clayton Kershaw in addition to Martin. After another early exit at the hands of the Mets in 2006, they reached the Championship Series twice to finish the decade under manager Joe Torre, losing to the Phillies both times in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, the Dodgers were propelled by the mid-season acquisition of slugger Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox, who flirted with a .400 average and was close to a pace of one RBI per game during the remainder of the season; but the fairy tale ended when Ramirez was busted for using a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs in 2009 and suspended for 50 games. Also problematic were owner Frank McCourt's divorce proceedings, as property of the Dodgers became one of the assets being fought over by his ex-wife and him. However, the emergence of Kemp and Ethier as major stars overcame Ramirez's absence from the line-up, but in 2010, the team sank back to middling status. Ramirez was traded in mid-season, and Kemp, Ethier, Loney and Martin all took steps backwards. Martin was not even offered a contract after the season.
The Dodgers' ownership problems only got worse in 2011, forcing Commissioner Bud Selig to step in and assume day-to-day control of the team's operations in April. "I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball," Selig said in a statement. McCourt immediately threatened to sue MLB, claiming that he had satisfied all of the financial conditions it had laid down for him. He appointed Steve Soboroff as vice-chairman, and Soboroff called the Commissioner's actions "irresponsible". It emerged that what prompted the intervention was McCourt's intention to conclude a long-term television deal with Fox Sports that would have given McCourt immediate cash by locking up one of the team's most precious assets - its broadcast rights - for 17 years in a deal worth $3 billion. Selig did not think that concluding such a deal at a time of distress for the franchise was in the best interest of anyone but McCourt, and was especially concerned over the fact that Fox had made a $30 million loan to the financially-strapped McCourt to allow him to meet payroll in April and May. Selig appointed former Texas Rangers executive Tom Schieffer to oversee the team's operations and then rejected the proposed television deal. That action led to the resignation of Soboroff; McCourt then filed for bankruptcy protection, hoping to delay the apparently inevitable seizure of the club by MLB. But he was also forced to accept a loan from MLB to meet payroll obligations for June, further tightening the noose around him. After the season, McCourt came to an agreement with MLB that he would sell the team through a court-supervised process. The date for submitting initial bids for the team was set for January 23, 2012; it was revealed the next day that over 20 groups had submitted bids, with at least 8 of them comprised of very rich financial backers allied with prominent personalities from the sports and entertainment world. The winning bidders were "Guggenheim Baseball Management Inc.", headed by investor Mark Walter, former NBA star Magic Johnson and executive Stan Kasten. They had bid a staggering $2 billion - the highest ever for a North American sports franchise - with an additional $150 million for the land around Dodger Stadium, meaning that McCourt would come out with hundreds of millions in profit, even after paying back the loans he had contracted to buy the team and his costly divorce settlement. The announcement of the winning bid, and particularly of Johnson's involvement, was received with a lot of enthusiasm in Los Angeles and the sale was finalized on May 1, 2012.
In spite of the off-field turmoil, there was some hope on the diamond in 2011 under new manager Don Mattingly. While the Dodgers were well back in the pennant race, Matt Kemp had a tremendous season, making a push for a Triple Crown and finishing second to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in the MVP vote. He turned that breakout year into a lucrative multi-year deal after the season. On the mound, it was Clayton Kershaw who had a breakout season, winning the Cy Young Award while logging the Pitching Triple Crown. The team failed to take the next step forward in 2012, but did demonstrate it now had the financial resources to compete with anyone when it pulled a blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox in August, in which it took on $260 million worth of contracts in acquiring 1B Adrian Gonzalez, OF Carl Crawford and P Josh Beckett. They then showed an even greater willingness to spend money the following off-season, signing pitchers Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu to six-year contracts on consecutive days in December of 2012. The big spending ways found their explanation when the Dodgers announced on January 28, 2013 that they were launching their own regional sports network on Time Warner Cable, and that they were set to receive the staggering amount of $7 billion from Time Warner in exchange for their broadcast rights for the next 25 years - an amount that made the record price paid for the team a few months earlier seem like a pittance.
 Team Owners
|Charles H. Byrne||1882 to 1898|
|Joseph Doyle||1882 to fl. 1897|
|Ferdinand A. Abell||1882 to 1907|
|Charles H. Ebbets||1882 to 1925|
|George Chauncey||1891 to 1897|
|Harry Von der Horst||1898 to 1905|
|Ned Hanlon||1898 to 1907|
|Henry Medicus||1905 to 1912|
|Edward J. McKeever||1912 to 1925|
|Stephen W. McKeever||1912 to 1938|
|Grace Ebbets||1925 to 1945|
|Brooklyn Trust Co.||1925 to 1945|
|Joseph A. Gilleaudeau||1925 to 1945|
|Edward J. McKeever Estate||1925 to 1944|
|James Mulvey/Dearie Mulvey||1938 to 1975|
|Walter F. O’Malley||1944 to 1979|
|W. Branch Rickey||1944 to 1950|
|John L. Smith||1944 to 1950|
|Mrs. John L. Smith||1950 to 1958|
|Peter O'Malley/Terry (O'Malley) Seidler||1979 to 1998|
|Rupert Murdoch||1998 to 2004|
|Robert Daley||1999 to 2004|
|Frank McCourt/Jamie McCourt||2004 to 2012|
|Mark Walter, Magic Johnson and others||2012 to present|
 Further Reading
- Michael D'Antonio: Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Riverhead Books, New York, NY, 2009.
- Andrew Goldblatt: The Giants and the Dodgers: Four Cities, Two Teams, One Rivalry, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2003.
- Paul Hirsch: "Walter O'Malley Was Right", in Jean Hastings Ardell and Andy McCue, ed.: Endless Seasons: Baseball in Southern California, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 41, 2011, pp. 81-83.
- Donald Honig: The Los Angeles Dodgers: The First Quarter Century, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 1983. ISBN 0312498802
- Donald Honig: Dodgers: The Complete Record of Dodgers Baseball, Collier Books, New York, NY, 1986. ISBN 0020283806
- Jeff Katz: "Everybody's a Star: The Dodgers Go Hollywood", in Jean Hastings Ardell and Andy McCue, ed.: Endless Seasons: Baseball in Southern California, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 41, 2011, pp. 74-76.
- Mark Langill: Game of my Life: Dodgers, Sports Publishing LLC, Champaign, IL, 2007.
- Mark Langill: Los Angeles Dodgers, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, SC, 2004.
- Lee Lowenfish: "Eyeball to Eyeball, Bellybutton to Bellybutton: Inside the Dodger Way of Scouting", in Jean Hastings Ardell and Andy McCue, ed.: Endless Seasons: Baseball in Southern California, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 41, 2011, pp. 97-100.
- William McNeil: The Dodgers Encyclopedia, Sports Publishing LLC, Champaign, IL, 2003 (originally published in 1997).
- Neil J. Sullivan: The Dodgers Move West, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 1987.
 Related Sites
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