History Los Angeles Dodgers

History of the Game: Los Angeles Dodgers

As one of the most storied franchises in MLB history, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a staple of American culture. But their history in Los Angeles is relatively short, moving to the city in 1957. To understand the impact the Dodgers have had on the fabric of America, we first must understand their storied history. We begin in 1884 in Brooklyn, New York.

Same Place, Different Name (1884-1920)

What would become the Los Angeles Dodgers began as the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1884. They took their name from the defunct baseball club before them, but the name didn’t stick for long. In their first 36 years of existence, the club went through nine name changes. For a club that has had such a storied history, this inconsistency is surprising to see. But nonetheless, the team’s winning ways began in Brooklyn.

They started off with a bang, winning the NL Championship in their first year in the league. They were able to capture five NL Pennants in their first 36 years in Brooklyn, but were unable to win the World Series. The team faced the Cleveland Indians in the 1920 World Series, but were bested in seven games. That loss would mark the beginning of a 20+ year playoff drought in Brooklyn.  Even so, the popularity of the ball club grew, and established a strong fan base in Brooklyn and the surrounding area.

One for Brooklyn (1921-1957)

History Los Angeles Dodgers

Dazzy Vance was one of the best players in Dodgers’ history (baseballhall.org).

The years after their 1920 World Series appearance were lean times for Brooklyn fans. From 1921 to 1939, Brooklyn finished better than third in their division only once, coming in second place in 1924. But fans still had a reason to pack the seats in Ebbets Field. And that was none other than Dazzy Vance. Vance first pitched for the rival Yankees in 1915 before coming to Brooklyn in 1922. The 31 year old would spend 10 memorable seasons in Brooklyn before moving on to St. Louis in 1933. Vance won the NL MVP in 1924 and posted two seasons of 10+ WAR in his 10 years in Brooklyn. Dazzy Vance is the 6th best player in Dodgers’ history in terms of WAR.

The team would officially become the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932, the year that Vance left for St. Louis. The Dodgers were entering new territory without their staff ace, but it wouldn’t be long before they were back to their winning ways. Entering the 1941 season, the Dodgers were one of the favorites in the NL. They had won 88 games in 1940 and were looking to build on their success. And build they did, racking up 100 wins and an NL Pennant. While the Dodgers did lose the World Series to the Yankees, they had made it back to their winning ways. They would have one losing season in their next 10 years. But even with all of their wins, one player made an impact so great, it changed the nation.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson, better known as Jackie, made his MLB debut with the Dodgers on April 15th, 1947. It may have gone down as a footnote in history, but there was one defining factor; Robinson was African-American. He was the first African-American to play in the majors, breaking the color barrier in MLB. He also went on to have a Hall of Fame career, winning the NL ROY in 1947 and NL MVP in 1949. Robinson helped change the fabric of America, but he also helped give Brooklyn a gift they will never forget.

After back to back World Series appearances in 1952 and 1953, the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs in 1954. But in 1955, the Dodgers would come out on top. Driven by Hall of Fame center fielder Duke Snider, the Dodgers bested the New York Yankees in seven games. It was the only World Series title won in Brooklyn, with the franchise moving to Los Angeles in 1957.

A Dynasty is Born (1958-1996)

The Brooklyn Dodgers were in the middle of a strong run, making the playoffs six times between 1947-1957. But when

History Los Angeles Dodgers

Fernando Valenzuela rode Fernandomania all the way to the 1981 World Series (alchetron.com).

majority owner Walter O’Malley wanted to build a new stadium for the team, New York officials were hesitant. After multiple failed attempts to find suitable land in New York for a stadium, O’Malley reached out to officials in Los Angeles. They were looking for a team, and O’Malley was happy to give them one. The Dodgers officially moved to Los Angeles for the 1958 season, changing the course of the franchise forever.

After moving across the country, the Dodgers spent the 1958 season trying to establish themselves. But a 71-83 record was just a blip on the Dodgers’ radar. The 1959 season would signal the beginning of a spectacular run of dominance for the Dodgers. They captured the World Series title, besting the Chicago White Sox in six games. It was a great boon for the Dodgers, and helped establish themselves as a cornerstone in Los Angeles. But it was just the beginning.

From 1959-1966, the Dodgers made four World Series appearances, winning three titles. Two of the greatest pitchers in Dodgers’ history were the driving force behind their run of dominance. Don Drysdale became a Dodgers legend, winning a Cy Young award and making the Hall of Fame. He retired with a sparkling 2.95 ERA and 2486 strikeouts. But Drysdale wasn’t alone in dominating for the Dodgers.

Sandy Koufax was one of the best pitchers of his era, winning three Cy Young Awards and one MVP in his 12 year career. He helped drive the Dodgers to three World Series titles in his career, and retired with a 2.76 ERA. Koufax also became a Hall of Famer, credit to his illustrious career. But the Dodgers would not make the World Series again until the 1974 season.

The Dodgers were able to capture two more World Series titles in the next 30 years, anchored by two other great pitchers. The 1981 season was one of magic in Los Angeles, as Fernandomania swept over the metro area. The 20 year old won the NL Cy Young that season, and led the Dodgers to the World Series title. Another Dodger Cy Young winner anchored the 1988 World Series title team. Orel Hershiser won the NL Cy Young in 1988, and led a Dodger team that won 94 games. They easily won the World Series that season, winning in five games.

Winning became the order of the era for the Dodgers, consistently making the playoffs. But as the turn of the century neared, the Dodgers found themselves on the edge of a new era.

A new age (1997-Present)

After the 1996 season, the Dodgers didn’t make the playoffs again until 2004. The consistently won, but weren’t able to break through to the playoffs. From 2004-2011, the Dodgers made the playoffs four times. But consistent playoff appearances still didn’t lead to a World Series appearance, causing management to overhaul the roster. The overhaul netted the team current stars like Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw, and landed them in first place in the NL West from 2013-2016.

With perennial Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw anchoring one of the deepest staffs in the majors, the Dodgers are set to contend in the NL for years to come. Corey Seager will join Kershaw in leading the Dodgers’ dominance, as the young shortstop is just beginning his career in Los Angeles. The future is bright in L.A., with young stars and established veterans leading the way. As one of the most successful teams in baseball history, they’re set to add to their trophy case and hopefully bring a World Series title back to Los Angeles.

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Vin Scully: The Man With the Golden Voice

Vin Scully has been the Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster for sixty-seven years. Just let that sink in for a second, Scully has been calling games for the Dodgers before the team moved to Los Angeles. Scully was calling games that featured legends and pioneers like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron and Ted Williams. An icon in not just Dodgers folklore, but baseball as a whole, this week will be the last week Scully will call Dodgers’ games.

Scully started his baseball announcing career in 1950, creating a crew of three (Red Barber and Connie Desmond commentated with him) to commentate on the Brooklyn Dodgers’ games. During the World Series of 1953, Scully got promoted to principal announcer, making him the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game (at the age of 25). Scully became a sports celebrity in Los Angeles after the Dodgers big move to the west coast. Fans loved Scully because he was so good at explaining the finer points of the game to a city that had never had a professional baseball team.

Scully announced for the Dodgers through all of the ups and downs.  Scully announced eleven World Series broadcasts that featured the Dodgers, with the Dodgers coming out on top in six of them. The distinctive voice has called a number of legendary at bats, including the one shown below. The best thing about his calling of the Gibson walk-off (shown below), was not the pitch by pitch commentary, but the knowledge to not saying anything after confirming the home run, letting the viewers listen to the pandemonium that ensued uninterrupted.


What set Scully apart from other broadcasters, especially modern day broadcasters, was just how Scully commentates games. Most commentary crews split the responsibilities, with one announcer giving the play by play, and the other, normally a former player or coach, would provide insight into what is going on in the player’s heads or providing insight into why certain things occurred (known as the color commentator). Scully was different because he would do the whole thing, providing both the play by play and the color. Coupled with the golden voice, viewers were mesmerized to the Dodgers’ games that were called by Scully.

Scully has received numerous awards for his broadcasting career. In 1982, Scully received the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. 1995 saw Scully receive a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award for his sports commentary, which also led to his induction in the National Radio Hall of Fame. That is just the tip of the iceberg for the awards Scully has received throughout his broadcasting career, a career that will soon come to an end.

Scully called his last game in Dodger Stadium this past Sunday, a game that was truly fitting for his last home broadcast. The Dodgers won in walk-off fashion, with a utility infielder hitting a home run in the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers. Whatever your religion, the truth is, the baseball gods were not going to let the Dodgers lose on Scully’s last broadcast in his home booth. Scully has received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, his own street named after him, and a key to the city, yet his most important accomplishment is truly the legacy left behind by his golden voice.

The sports world is constantly evolving, yet Los Angeles could always lean on Scully as the singular constant in the Dodgers world. As the Dodgers finish up the regular season in San Francisco this upcoming weekend, I advise any and all baseball fans to listen to one of his last three games, both to get a chance to appreciate his talent, but also to be able to say that you have listened to the best sports broadcaster baseball has ever had.