The San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, which have one of the oldest rivalries in Major League Baseball (MLB), are currently meeting in the postseason for the first time in history.
But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been in a similar situation – looking to win a 3-2 mini-series to stay in the championship race – before. In fact, this is the third time they have dealt with such a circumstance.
After splitting the first two games of their Division Series in San Francisco, the Giants and Dodgers will begin a final 3-2 on Monday at Dodger Stadium. San Francisco played excellently on the road, where they had 53 of their 107 wins, but the Dodgers had 58 of their 106 at home. Both win totals are marks for the old and successful National League franchises.
In 1951 and 1962, the Dodgers and Giants finished tied for the first place on the old circuit and had to play 3-2 miniseries that were extensions of the regular season to define the representative of the league in the World Series.
Since it was created in 1903 (discontinued in 1904 and definitively established as an institution since 1905) the World Series was the only playoffs of the MLB season, until in 1969 the divisional system and the Championship Series were created to determine the monarchs of each league.
In 1995, the MLB added a third division and a wild card spot (the best second place in each league) to host a third round playoffs. Since 2012 there has been a match between two wild cards from each league to determine which one advances to the Division Series.
Let’s go back to the Dodgers and Giants and their previous matchups after the regular competition schedule had been exhausted.
In 1951, the two New York National League teams were tied at 96-58. For the second time in history, an extra 3-2 of the regular round was agreed to determine who would face the New York Yankees of the American League in the fall classic.
The Giants won the first game 3-1 on Monday, October 1 at Ebbest Field in Brooklyn, the home of the Dodgers. The key hit was a home run by third baseman Bobby Thomson off right-hander Ralph Branca in the fourth inning.
The Dodgers tied the series 1-1 with a 10-0 win Tuesday at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, the home of the Giants. Right-hander Clem Labine pitched the full route and second baseman Jackie Robinson went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs.
The decisive third game was won by New York 5-4 at the Polo Grounds with a four-run rally in the ninth inning, which was capped by Thomson’s historic three-run homer against Branca, who relieved starter Don Newcombe, to leave the Dodgers on the field.
In the World Series, the Yankees had the Giants in six games to catch the third of five consecutive titles.
In 1962, the stubborn rivals, who had moved to California together (the Dodgers to Los Angeles and the Giants to San Francisco) five years earlier, were tied at 101-61. For the fourth and final time, the National League scheduled a 3-2 series to break the tie.
On Monday, October 1, the Giants shut out the Dodgers 8-0 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Billy Pierce pitched a three-hit full game to beat Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays went 3-for-3 with two home runs and three RBIs. Felipe Alou doubled and scored a run.
On Tuesday the 2nd at Dodger Stadium, the locals scored seven runs in the sixth inning and Ron Fairly drove in the winner in the ninth for a series-tying 8-7 win. The next day, on the same stage, the Giants scored four runs in the ninth inning to come back in the game and win it 6-4.
Mateo Alou singled, Felipe Alou walked and Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda drove in runs in the inning. Juan Marichal allowed three earned runs in seven innings, but it was reliever Don Larsen who scored the victory.
Once again, the Giants got their ticket to the World Series in the last inning, where they were again defeated by the Yankees.