The Los Angeles Dodgers have always been a huge part of my childhood obsessions.
Growing up as a sports enthusiast in Los Angeles surrounded by countless other Dodgers fans, I saw that the team provides a sense of pride, belonging and unity for many residents of Los Angeles. The dream of attending a ballgame at Dodgers Stadium was not uncommon for many youngsters in LA, given the popularity and rich history of the team.
Despite living considerably close to Dodgers Stadium, however, I have never had the opportunity to watch the team play in person. This was partly my own fault, since I have never told my parents how much I love baseball — in fact, I highly doubt that they even know what team I support.
To make matters worse, my family and I moved back to Thailand just after I started high school, and so the dream of watching my favorite team play on its home ground sadly became a fantasy.
It wasn’t until I moved back to California for college that I realized that there is yet another opportunity for me to watch my beloved Dodgers play. This time, however, the dream of watching them play at Dodgers Stadium will still have to wait. Though moving back to California reignited my passion for baseball, I completely forgot to mention that I did not move back to Los Angeles, but instead the Bay Area — home of the San Francisco Giants!
Living in the Bay Area now means that I am constantly surrounded by talkative Giants fans who consistently attempt to convert me to their fandom.
Many Giants fans have tried to convince me that, since I now live near San Francisco, it would be nice to get behind a team that represents “my city.”
Due to a high number of Giants fans attempting to change my allegiance, I became intrigued in the history of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, one that can be traced back to the late 19th century, when both teams were based in New York City.
To this day, the fierce rivalry between two of the most prominent major baseball teams is regarded as the longest-standing rivalry in all of American baseball, with some fans and sports historians considering it one of the fiercest and most publicized sports rivalries of all time.
From 1890-1957, it was the New Yorkers who saw most of the intense rivalry between the two growing teams. The San Francisco Giants, then known as the New York Giants, played at Polo Grounds in Manhattan, while the Los Angeles Dodgers, then known as the Brooklyn Dodgers, hosted their games on the other side of the city in Brooklyn.
Despite their close proximity to each other, both the Dodgers and the Giants developed a strong sense of competition and rivalry in their early years. New York Giants fans were usually seen as affluent elitists and socialites of Manhattan, while the Brooklyn Dodgers’ fan base was usually composed of mostly blue collar workers and the Latine from Brooklyn.
As clashes between fans, players, managers and team owners became more frequent, the Dodgers-Giants rivalry quickly gained recognition on national media. By 1957, however, both teams had their fair share of financial and managerial struggles, which motivated them to seek the solutions outside of New York City.
As the Dodgers struggled to secure a place to build their new stadium in the Big Apple, the team looked westward to the City of Angels for their new permanent home. Meanwhile, the Giants contemplated moving out to Minnesota, but they also kept San Francisco as a possible alternative.
In order to preserve the intense rivalry, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley convinced Giants owner Horace Stoneham to move the Giants to San Francisco, a rapidly growing Californian city that culturally, economically and politically rivaled Los Angeles.
By the start of the 1958 season, both teams had successfully completed their moves to their coastal cities, with the Giants in San Francisco while the Dodgers took Los Angeles. Thus, the Dodgers-Giants saga continued as California became the new grand venue.
With the rivalry resuming in California, the tension continues to remain strong within the state. Though I have always respected the Giants’ fanbase, there will never be a day when I will put on a Giants’ uniform as someone born and raised in the City of Angels.
From my personal standpoint, the Los Angeles Dodgers stands as a symbol of the city where I created lifetime memories with friends and family.
Putting the rivalry aside, however, I have always been grateful to the abundance of major league teams in the Bay Area. Being far away from home inevitably means that watching the ballgame at Dodgers Stadium is no longer a possibility, and thus I often find myself watching the Dodgers either in Oakland or San Francisco. Supporting the boys in blue at the Oracle Park will always go down as one of the most enjoyable things to do in San Francisco.