A couple years after I retired from being manager, Willie Mays was in the Giants clubhouse at Candlestick Park, which I still think was one of the worst places to play baseball. He heard I was with the team, so he called and told me to come over to their clubhouse. I told him I would never, ever go into a Giant clubhouse even if God told me to.
In his high-pitched voice, he said, ?What?s the matter, you ain?t the manager no more.?
?No I?m not,? I told him, ?but I?m still a Dodger which means I hate the Giants, so what do you want??
Willie just wanted to visit and talk about the rivalry between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. And what a tremendous rivalry it was. Depending on which borough you were from, you either loved the Dodgers or the Giants, or the Yankees of course. Both sets of fans were beyond passionate about winning, and about hating their opponent.
When Walter O’Malley moved to Los Angeles, the Giants followed us west and landed in San Francisco. The rivalry followed, and to show you how serious the hatred was, when Jackie Robinson was traded to the Giants at the end of his career, instead of reporting, he just quit. He would rather walk away from the game he loved instead of entering the Giants clubhouse. He had spent so many years with the Dodgers hating the Giants, and trying to beat them at all costs, that he just couldn?t come to putting on their uniform. Now that is a rivalry.
As a player in the Dodger farm system, we were brought up to hate the Giants. Years later, when I was a manager in our farm system, I taught my players to hate the Giants. By the time any player reached the big leagues, he hated the Giants and wanted to beat them real bad.
When I started managing the Dodgers in 1977, 17 of the 25 players on the team had played for me in the minors, and another four had come up through our system, so 21 of the 25 players were signed by the Dodgers, developed by the Dodgers and learned from day one about the rivalry. The Giants had teams in every league the Dodgers did, so at every stop we made our players learn to hate the Giants.
Now, with so much turn over in Major League Baseball, the rivalry isn?t what it used to be because most players did not come through our system. It is still fun beating the Giants. In fact, the all-time series record is 1251-1235 in favor of the Dodgers. Most importantly, the fans still enjoy the rivalry and everyone has fun pulling for their team.
I want all Dodger fans to tune into this series with the Giants and to keep pulling for the Dodgers; I will be. Remember, there is a saying in this country; if you don?t pull for the Dodgers, there?s a good chance you may not get into heaven.
This is LA baseball.