|As the ugly stepsister to the cross-town New York Giants and
Yankees for many years, the Dodgers emerged in the 1940s and enjoyed great
success for nearly two decades in Flatbush, only to move to the west coast
in 1958. In 1914 Wilbert Robinson took over the team known as much as the
Superbas as the Dodgers.
He immediately delivered the first winning season in Brooklyn in 11 years. Two years later they won the NL pennant, led by Rube Marquard, Zack Wheat, Jake Daubert, and a 25-year old outfielder named Casey Stengel. The Red Sox outmatched them in the World Series, and four years later the Indians did the same. On the strength of those two pennants, Robinson managed the team until 1931. Max Carey and Stengel followed with little success, and it wasn't until Leo Durocher took over the helm in the late 1930s that the Dodgers started to become the Dodgers.
1940 brought a second place finish and in 1941 the Dodgers won their third pennant, establishing a franchise record with 100 victories. Though Durocher wouldn't survive the decade, the success did. The Dodgers finished in the top three every season but one in the next 17 seasons. The '41 team (led by phenom Pete Reiser) lost the World Series to the Yankees, a foe that soon became a bitter rival. The two clubs would meet in six World Series from 1947 to 1956. Only once did the Dodgers prevail. Key Dodgers in the 1940s included Dolf Camilli, Pete Reiser, Pee Wee Reese, Dixie Walker, Joe Medwick, Kirby Higbe, Billy Herman, Eddie Stanky, and Ralph Branca. Three different managers led the team to pennants in the late 1940s and 1950s. But the arrival of Walter Alston provided stability. Alston led the Dodgers until late in 1976. The team rolled into the 1950s behind Jackie Robinson, Reese, Carl Furillo, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Andy Pafko, Carl Erskine, and Preacher Roe.
Every season it seemed the Dodgers were involved in a pennant race, either with the Cardinals, Braves, Phillies, or Giants. In 1951 the team collapsed down the stretch - allowing the Giants to catch them and force a playoff. Bobby Thomson's dramatic home run off Branca sealed the Dodgers fate in historic fashion. The Bums finally won the Series in 1955, beating the hated Yankees in seven games. The next season New York returned the favor in the last series between the teams while they were in New York City.
Following the 1957 season, Dodger owner Walter O'Malley shocked his Brooklyn fans with the announcement that the team would be moving to Los Angeles for the 1958 season. The team floundered on the West Coast, falling to 7th place. But in 1959 the Dodgers rebounded, taking the NL flag and winning the World Series - the first California based franchise to do so. The 1960s followed with much success, the Dodgers winning pennants in 1963, 1965 and 1966. Riding the arms of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, and the feet of Maury Wills and Willie Davis, the Dodgers were crowned World Champs in 1963 and 1965. After a sweep at the hands of the Orioles in the 1966 Fall Classic, Los Angeles went into a rebuilding mode in the last years of the 1960s, emerging as true contenders in the NL West in the 1970s.
The decade of the 70s saw the Reds or Dodgers win nine of the ten Western division titles. The Dodgers won in 1974, 1977, and 1978. Each time they advanced to the World Series only to lose. In '74 superb A's pitching left the Dodgers just short of a title. In 1977-78, the Yankees returned to pester the Dodgers, triumphing in six games both years. The heart of those 1970s Dodger teams were Steve Garvey, Jimmy Wynn, Ron Cey, Don Sutton, Bill Russell, Tommy John, Davey Lopes, Rick Monday, Reggie Smith, Steve Yeager, Dusty Baker, and Burt Hooton. Some of those same players formed the core of the 1981 team that finally vanquished the Yankees in the World Series. Young hurler Fernando Valenzuela was the ace of that team.
The Dodgers, led by Tommy Lasorda since 1976, won division titles in 1983 and 1985, losing both times in the LCS.
By 1988 the team was given little chance to return to the World Series, but new addition Kirk Gibson lit a fire under the team and pitcher Orel Hershiser carried the club on his back down the stretch, delivering another NL pennant. The Oakland A's were heavily favored in the 1988 World Series, but the Dodgers shocked the AL champs in five games to win their fourth World Title in Los Angeles and fifth as a franchise. The Dodgers consistently produced great young talent, including Mike Piazza and Chan Ho Park, winning many Rookie of the Year honors in the 1980s and 1990s, but had only two division titles and a wild card to show for the 1990s.
In 2004 the Los Angeles Dodgers won their Division and finished with a 93-69 record. They lost in Round 1 of the playoffs to the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2006 the Dodgers finished with a 88-74 record and won their division and
lost to the Mets in the Playoffs.