The Los Angeles Dodgers are an American professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers compete in Major League Baseball as a member club of the National League West division. Established in 1883 in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the team relocated to Los Angeles before the 1958 season. They played four seasons at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before moving to Dodger Stadium, their current home, in 1962.
In the early 20th century, the team, then sometimes called the Brooklyn Robins after manager Wilbert Robinson, won league pennants in 1916 and 1920, losing the World Series both times, first to Boston and then Cleveland. In the 1930s, the team officially adopted the Dodgers nickname, which had been in use since the 1890s, named after the Brooklyn pedestrians who dodged the streetcars in the city.
In 1941, the Dodgers captured their third National League pennant, only to lose to the New York Yankees. This marked the onset of the Dodgers–Yankees rivalry, as the Dodgers would face them in their next six World Series appearances. Led by Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. And three-time National League Most Valuable Player Roy Campanella also signed out of the Negro Leagues. The Dodgers captured their first World Series title in 1955 by defeating the Yankees for the first time, a story notably described in the 1972 book The Boys of Summer.
The early 1980s were affectionately dubbed Fernandomania. In 1988, another pitching hero, Orel Hershiser, again led them to a World Series victory, aided by one of the most memorable home runs of all time, by their injured star outfielder Kirk Gibson coming off the bench to pinch-hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of game 1, in his only appearance of the series.
Origin of the nickname
The Dodgers’ official history reports that the term Trolley Dodgers was attached to the Brooklyn ballclub due to the complex maze of trolley cars that weaved its way through the borough of Brooklyn. In 1892, the city of Brooklyn began replacing its slow-moving, horse-drawn trolley lines with the faster, more powerful electric trolley lines. Brooklyn’s high profile, the significant number of widely reported accidents, and a trolley strike in early 1895, combined to create a strong association in the public’s mind between Brooklyn and trolley dodging.
Other team names used by the franchise were the Atlantics, Grays, Grooms, Bridegrooms, Superbas and Robins. All of these nicknames were used by fans and sportswriters to describe the team, but not in any official capacity. The team’s legal name was the Brooklyn Base Ball Club. However, the Trolley Dodger nickname was used throughout this period, simultaneously with these other nicknames, by fans and sportswriters of the day.
Another example of the use of the many nicknames is found on the program issued at Ebbets Field for the 1920 World Series, which identifies the matchup in the series as Dodgers vs. Indians despite the fact that the Robins nickname had been in consistent use for around six years. The Robins nickname was derived from the name of their Hall of Fame manager, Wilbert Robinson, who led the team from 1914 to 1931.
The Dodgers’ uniform has remained relatively unchanged since the 1930s. The home jersey is white with Dodgers written in script across the chest in royal. The road jersey is gray with Los Angeles written in script across the chest in royal. The word Dodgers was first used on the front of the team’s home jersey in 1933; the uniform was then white with red pinstripes and a stylized B on the left shoulder.
The current design was created in 1939, and has remained the same ever since with only cosmetic changes. Originally intended for the 1951 World Series for which the ballclub failed to qualify, red numbers under the Dodgers script were added to the home uniform in 1952. The road jersey also has a red uniform number under the script.
In 1970, the Dodgers removed the city name from the road jerseys and had Dodgers on both the home and away uniforms. The city script returned to the road jerseys in 1999, and the tradition-rich Dodgers flirted with an alternate uniform for the first time since 1944. These 1999 alternate jerseys had a royal top with the Dodgers script in white across the chest, and the red number on the front.
The Dodgers have been groundbreaking in their signing of players from Asia; mainly Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Former owner Peter O’Malley began reaching out in 1980 by starting clinics in China and South Korea, building baseball fields in two Chinese cities, and in 1998 becoming the first major league team to open an office in Asia.
In the 2008 season, the Dodgers had the most Asian players on its roster of any major league team with five. They included Japanese pitchers Takashi Saito and Hiroki Kuroda; South Korean pitcher Chan Ho Park; and Taiwanese pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo and infielder Chin-Lung Hu. In 2005, the Dodgers’ Hee Seop Choi became the first Asian player to compete in the Home Run Derby.
The Dodgers’ rivalry with the San Francisco Giants dates back to the 19th century, when the two teams were based in New York; the rivalry with the New York Yankees took place when the Dodgers were based in New York, but was revived with their East Coast/West Coast World Series battles in 1963, 1977, 1978, and 1981. The Dodgers rivalry with the Philadelphia Phillies also dates back to their days in New York, but was most fierce during the 1970s, 1980s, and 2000s.
San Francisco Giants
The feud between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants began in the late 19th century when both clubs were based in New York City, with the Dodgers playing in Brooklyn and the Giants playing at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan. After the 1957 season, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley moved the team to Los Angeles for financial and other reasons. Along the way, he managed to convince Giants owner Horace Stoneham—who was considering moving his team to Minnesota—to preserve the rivalry by bringing his team to California as well.
Unlike many other historic baseball match-ups in which one team remains dominant for most of their history, the Dodgers–Giants rivalry has exhibited a persistent balance in the respective successes of the two teams. While the Giants have more wins in franchise history, the Dodgers have the most National League pennants at 24, with the giants following close behind at 23.
Los Angeles Angels
This rivalry refers to a series of games played with the Los Angeles Angels. The Freeway Series takes its name from the massive freeway system in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, the home of both teams; one could travel from one team’s stadium to the other simply by traveling along Interstate 5. The term is akin to Subway Series which refers to meetings between New York City baseball teams. The term Freeway Series also inspired the official name of the region’s NHL rivalry: the Freeway Face-Off.
Animosity between the team’s fanbases grew stronger in 2005, when the Angel’s new team owner Arte Moreno changed the name of his ball club from the ‘Anaheim Angels, to the ‘Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’. Since the city of Anaheim is located roughly 30 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, the Angels franchise was ridiculed throughout the league for the contradictory nature surrounding the name, especially by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
The Dodgers–Yankees rivalry is one of the most well-known rivalries in Major League Baseball. The two teams have met eleven times in the World Series, more times than any other pair from the American and National Leagues. The initial significance was embodied in the two teams’ proximity in New York City, when the Dodgers initially played in Brooklyn. After the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, the rivalry retained its significance as the two teams represented the dominant cities on each coast of the United States, and since the 1980s, the two largest cities in the United States.
Radio and television
Vin Scully called Dodgers games from 1950 to 2016. His longtime partners were Jerry Doggett and Ross Porter. In 1976, he was selected by Dodgers fans as the Most Memorable Personality in the team’s history. He is also a recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters. Unlike the modern style in which multiple sportscasters have an on-air conversation, Scully, Doggett and Porter generally called games solo, trading with each other inning-by-inning.
His tenure with the Dodgers was the longest with any single sports team at 67 years. Youthful announcer Joe Davis was selected in 2017 by Dodgers management to handle play by play on television with Orel Hershiser as his colorman; Steiner continues to substitute for Davis during the latter’s Fox Sports MLB and NFL assignments, with Tim Neverett taking Steiner’s place on radio.
Public address announcers/organists
From the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958, the Dodgers employed a handful of well-known public address announcers; the most famous of which was John Ramsey, who served as the PA voice of the Dodgers from 1958 until his retirement in 1982; he was also well known for announcing at other venerable Los Angeles venues, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena, and the Forum. Ramsey died in 1990.
From 1958 to 1982, Doug Moore, Philip Petty, and Dennis Packer served as back-up voices for John Ramsey for the Dodgers, California Angels, Los Angeles Chargers, USC football and Los Angeles Rams. Packer was Ramsey’s primary backup for the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings until Ramsey’s retirement from the Forum in 1978. Thereafter, Packer became the public address announcer for the Lakers, Kings, indoor soccer and indoor tennis events at the Forum.
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