Individual Rivalries

 
Here is a look at the individual rivalries within The Rivalry, with special recognition paid to those individuals whose intensity and performance have continually raised the bar: John Montgomery Ward, John McGraw, Wilbert Robinson, Leo Durocher, Jackie Robinson, Juan Marichal, Reggie Smith, Tommy Lasorda, Barry Bonds, and now, Clayton Kershaw - whose 1.61 career ERA as a starter against the Giants is the second lowest of any starting pitcher against any one team in MLB history (minimum of 250 innings, through 2016; first is Hippo Vaughn's 1.58 career ERA vs Pittsburgh).
John Montgomery Ward vs John Gaffney
1889
The first great individual rivalry came during their World Series battle between National League Champion New York and American Association Champion Brooklyn, and was actually a feud between player and umpire.  John Montgomery Ward, the Giants' star shortstop, had previously given umpire Gaffney a black eye, at which time Gaffney "swore vengeance against Ward and the New York team."   The Series was mired by controversial calls that seemingly all went against the Giants.  The 3 games that Brooklyn won in the Series were each called early by Gaffney on account of darkness - one after Brooklyn was allowed to rally from behind in dimming light, the other two after they were allowed to stall until darkness fell, holding on to slim leads.  After New York threatened to pull out of the Series the shenanigans stopped, Ward dominated play, and the Giants won 6 games to 3.


John Montgomery Ward vs Charlie Byrne
1891-1894
Monte Ward became Brooklyn Player/Manager in 1891 but soon grew tired of Brooklyn and club President Charlie Byrne.  Ward told reporters that he could no longer work for Byrne, who quickly sold Ward back to the Giants to play/manage, and the two men continually took shots at each other in the papers. After the '93 season, Byrne challenged Ward to a post-season series for the "Metropolitan Championship." Brooklyn won 4 games to 2.

Christy Mathewson vs Zack Wheat
1909-1916
Though the primes of both players only overlapped for a few years, these two Hall of Famers dominate the record books of their respective teams.  Head-to-head stats are limited, below, and their career numbers and ranks with each franchise follow.
AB H HR XBH BB K BA OPS
54
18 0 6
4 4 .333 .860
Christy Mathewson (NY, 1900-16)
GS IP ShO W K ERA
551 4779.2 79 372 2504 2.12
1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Zack Wheat (BK, 1909-26)
G H TB R RBI BA
2322 2804 4003 1255 1210 .317
1st 1st 1st 2nd 3rd 6TH


Wilbert Robinson vs John McGraw
1914-1931
The Dodgers-Giants rivalry transformed into something more when Wilbert Robinson became Manager of the Dodgers.  Robinson (Dodgers Manager 1914-31, when they were known as the Robins, after their skipper) and John McGraw (Giants Manager 1902-32) constantly feuded in the media. Prior to becoming Brooklyn Manager, "Uncle Robbie" had been a Giants coach but was fired by "Little Napoleon" after a heated argument over missed signs, ending a 22-year friendship that included 12 seasons as teammates and dual partnership in a cafe in Baltimore. One example of their bitterness came in 1916 when McGraw left mid-game during a Robins victory on October 3rd that clinched the pennant. McGraw said his players were laying down for Brooklyn while Robinson thought McGraw was jealous of his success. Robinson said that by leaving early, "He pissed on my pennant."  Over these 18 seasons, McGraw's Giants held a slight edge, winning 197 games to the Dodgers' 190.

Dazzy Vance vs Mel Ott & Bill Terry
1923-1935
The inverse of the Mathewson-Wheat rivalry, these were duels between the best pitcher in Brooklyn Dodgers history going up against the top two hitters the Giants ever had in New York.  Vance didn't become a regular Major Leaguer until he joined Brooklyn at age 31, and then became one of the most dominant pitchers of the '20s, winning the 1924 MVP.  Ott was one of the era's greatest sluggers, becoming the first National League player to hit 500 home runs in a career, while Terry was one of the era's best hitters and remains the last NL player to hit .400 in a season (.401 in 1930).  Not all head-to-head stats are available for these years, but here is what we know:
Dazzy Vance vs Mel Ott (1926-32, '35)
AB H HR XBH BB K BA OPS
76 17 2 7 11
6 .224 .717
Dazzy Vance vs Bill Terry (1923-32, '35)
AB H HR XBH BB K BA OPS
130 36 2 11 7 28 .277 .714

Carl Hubbell vs Dodgers
1929-1943
Carl Hubbell is arguably the second-best pitcher in Giants history (behind Christy Mathewson), and one of the best left-handed pitchers of all-time.  And though he dominated the National League over his career, winning two MVP awards, he always struggled against the Dodgers, who were often not very good during this stretch.  Brooklyn is the only team to have a winning record versus Hubbell, and also gave him his highest ERA against any one team during his Hall of Fame career.
Opp W-L W% ERA
vs BK 24-35 .407 3.44
vs Rest of NL 229-119 .658 2.90

Bill Terry vs Max Carey
1934
Before the 1934 season, Giants Manager Bill Terry was asked what chances Brooklyn had in the upcoming season and he answered, "Brooklyn?  I haven't heard anything from them lately.  Are they still in the league?"  Shortly after, at the Baseball Writer's Association dinner, Terry and Dodgers Manager Max Carey exchanged taunts.  Carey bet Terry a new suit that the Giants wouldn't finish first, to which Terry responded, "Make it two suits."  Brooklyn replaced Carey with Casey Stengel before the season and finished 6th that year, but they defeated the Giants 5-1 and 8-5 (10 innings) on the last two days of the season to spoil New York's pennant hopes.  There is no evidence Terry ever made good on his bet.

Leo Durocher (BK) vs Leo Durocher (NY)
1939-1955
Durocher was one of the greatest personalities of the rivalry.  Leo the Lip fought with players, management, and League bosses, but he saved his most impassioned antagonism for his team's arch-rivals.  As Player-Manager for Brooklyn in 1939, he instructed his pitchers to start beaning Giants hitters and then spiked their first baseman, Zeke Bonura, setting off a brawl.  He is credited with the phrase "Nice guys finish last" for comments he made (he was actually misquoted and misunderstood) when speaking to reporters in '46 about Giants Manager Mel Ott.  After several run-ins with team and league management, Durocher left the Dodgers mid-way through the '48 season to replace Ott as Giants Manager.  From '48-'55, beanball wars became the norm as he feuded with Brooklyn Manager Chuck Dressen and with his former Dodgers players - most notably Jackie Robinson and Carl Furillo.  In '54, Furillo even charged into the Giants dugout and fought Durocher.  No one person in the New York phase of this rivalry did more to make the rivalry great than Leo the Lip.

Jackie Robinson vs Sal Maglie
1950-1955
New York's ace pitcher Sal "The Barber" Maglie earned his nickname for his head-hunting pitching style, providing many 'close shaves.'  This made him feared and hated throughout the NL, but nowhere more than in Brooklyn - and no one player met his intensity level like Jackie Robinson.  They had many great battles, but the most memorable came in 1951 in a series riddled with beanballs.  Robinson responded to a pitch high and in with a bunt up the first base line.  Though the ball went foul, Robinson bowled into Maglie, sending both players flying, emptying both benches, and setting the stage for each future match-up.  In fact, a similar situation arose in 1955, but this time Maglie made no real attempt to field the ball.  Robinson even slowed down to give Maglie time to get into his path.  When it was clear Maglie would stay out of harm's way, Robinson knocked over second baseman Davey Williams at first base instead.  Their head-to-head stats over this period:
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
136 36 2 11 18 7 .310 .847

Bobby Thomson vs Ralph Branca
October 3, 1951
Known as "The Shot Heard 'Round the World", it is considered the most famous home run in baseball history.  The Giants came back from 13 1/2 games back on August 11th to force a three-game playoff, and then came back from a 4-2 deficit in the ninth inning of the third game on Thomson's three-run homer to win 5-4.  Thomson had also homered off Branca in game one of the playoff.  Both players' careers will forever be linked together by this moment.  After a 2001 Wall Street Journal article came out detailing the Giants' sign-stealing methods during their late season comeback, mystery still surrounds this at bat and whether Thomson knew what pitch Branca was throwing. Their head-to-head stats from 1948-53:
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
52
13 4 10 5 3 .289 .995

Madison Bumgarner vs Yasiel Puig
2014-Present
Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig have had to be separated on three separate occasions and the two just do not seem to like each other.  In early 2014 Bumgarner took umbrage with Puig's celebration of a home run off of him, and then later that season hit Puig with a pitch (likely accidentally), sparking another near-brawl.  In 2016 the two exchanged words after a routine ground out and the benches cleared yet again (below).  Through 2016, Puig has established a slight upper-hand:
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
39
10
2
2
3
9
.286
.873


Clayton Kershaw vs Tim Lincecum
2011
It is rare these days for two pitchers to face off 4 times in one season, let alone two Cy Young winners.  Yet that is what happened when 2008 and '09 Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum pitched magnificently, but still lost all 4 match-ups to the eventual 2011 Cy Young Clayton Kershaw, each game decided by one run.

W-L
IP
ER
H
BB
K
Kershaw 4-0
30.1
1
16
5
36
Lincecum 0-3
29.0
4 24
12
23

Barry Bonds vs Eric Gagne
2002-2004
Bonds was the most intimidating player in baseball and Gagne was in the middle of perhaps the most dominating 3-year stretch any closer has ever had.  Sure, both players were benefiting from steroid use, but few batter-pitcher match-ups in recent memory have been this electric.  Bonds dominated Gagne over these 3 seasons...
9 PA 4 AB 3 H 5 BB 4 IBB 0 K 1 HR
...including one epic battle on April 16, 2004, of reigning MVP vs reigning Cy Young:


Barry Bonds vs Left Field Pavilion
1993-2007
When Bonds signed with the Giants before the 1993 season, he was already considered one of the best players in baseball.  That year he won the MVP and the Giants won 103 games, but missed out on the playoffs after losing to the Dodgers on the season's final day.  Over the next 14 seasons, Bonds became one of the best players of all time, and one of the most controversial.  Perhaps no player in sports history was more vilified in one city than Barry Bonds was in Los Angeles.  And as Bonds said, "Dodger Stadium is the best show I ever go to in all of baseball. They say, 'Barry sucks' louder than anybody out there...You've got to have some kind of serious talent to have 53,000 people saying you suck, and I'm proud of that."  His career numbers, as a Giant, at Dodger Stadium:
G PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
97 410
74 25 61 112 45 .257 1.027

Tommy Lasorda vs Giants
1976-1996
Of the many colorful managers during the California phase of the rivalry, Lasorda was easily the most iconic.  As much as he embraced his Hollywood celebrity, he embraced a hatred of the Giants even more, and as a minor league manager he posted a sign reading, "Love the Dodgers, But Hate the Giants."  As Third Base Coach for LA in 1973 he got into a pregame fight around the batting cage with Giants Manager Charlie Fox over beanings from the night before.  He was a lightning rod for vitriol from Giants fans, players, and even Jim Lefebvre - former Dodgers player and coach, fired by Lasorda - who punched him in the face after they saw each other in the hallway of a NBC television station in 1980 where they were filming separate interviews.  Lasorda was 184-147 against the Giants, and at the last game at Candlestick Park, September 30, 1999, he addressed the crowd by saying, "I finally figured it out.  You don't hate me.  You hate yourselves because you love me."

Mike Marshall vs Scott Garrelts & Roger Craig
April 21, 1987
Though these three are lesser players in the rivalry, they did make for one eventful evening early in the 1987 season.  With the game tied at 8 in the 10th inning, Giants Manager Roger Craig instructed his pitcher, Scott Garrelts, to intentionally walk Pedro Guerrero to get to Mike Marshall.  Marshall then homered off of Garrelts and let Craig have it by jawing at him all the way around the bases.  Garrelts then threw over the head of the next batter, Alex Trevino, which cleared the benches and escalated when Giants fans got into it with Dodgers players. (The below video starts with this encounter, followed by other footage from the rivalry)


Reggie Smith vs Giants Fans
1978 & 1981
The late '70s and early '80s were an interesting time for the rivalry.  The Dodgers were perennially good, the Giants perennially bad, and Candlestick Park perennially unruly.  Reggie Smith wasn't the Dodgers' most popular player, but he was probably their best, and he torched the Giants.  As such, he was the target of many thrown beers, batteries, and other objects from the stands.  In 1978 alone he had a beer dumped on him while chasing down a ball, he flipped off the crowd, took to slow trots around the bases after homers, and even went into the stands to fight with taunting fans.  In 1981, he did it again, decking Giants fan Michael Dooley who threw a batting helmet at him.  Smith was ejected, Dooley arrested.  Smith's numbers against the Giants from 1976-81:
G PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
65 258 71 16 45 25 35 .314 .978

John Montefusco vs Reggie Smith
1976-1980
John "The Count" Montefusco grew up hating the Dodgers, so when he came up with the Giants he immediately began the antagonizing.  The Count was cocky and Smith had a temper.  There was nothing friendly about this rivalry, as the two genuinely did not like each other, often exchanging words through the press.  Though Montefusco pitched well against the Dodgers, the Giant-killer Smith absolutely lit him up:
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
48
20 6 12 0 6 .435 1.307

Juan Marichal vs John Roseboro
August 22, 1965
On August 22, 1965, in the middle of a pennant race, Giants pitcher Juan Marichal knocked down two Dodgers batters. Later in the game, after Dodgers catcher John Roseboro unsuccessfully tried to get Sandy Koufax to retaliate in kind, he buzzed a couple return throws to his pitcher by Marichal's ear and Marichal took exception.  After saying something to Roseboro, the catcher stood up and Marichal clubbed him over the head with his bat. It was one of baseball's most violent moments and it ignited a bench-clearing brawl.  For years after the incident they did not speak and Roseboro won a civil suit in court.  When their playing careers ended, they were able to make amends and even form a friendship.  Their numbers against each other from 1960-67:
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
99 14 2 6 2 17 .144 .378


Maury Wills vs Giants Catchers
1960-1965
In the early '60s the Dodgers won with elite pitching and a small-ball approach to offense.  Maury Wills epitomized the light-hitting, fleet-footed style of these Dodger teams.  In this six year stretch Wills stole 376 bases, including a then-record 104 in 1962 when he won the MVP.  That year, after Giants Manager Alvin Dark noticed the Dodgers' field crew packed down the dirt around first base to provide more traction for their speedy base stealers.  To retaliate, Dark had his crew water down the infield in hopes of slowing down Wills.  The dirt became so swampy it was known as "Maury's Lake", and when Dark's Giants visited Los Angeles, fans greeted him with duck quacks from the stands.  Wills' numbers during this period:
G OBP SB CS SB%
113 .345 44 7 86.3%

Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale vs
Willie Mays & Willie McCovey

1955-1969
After the move to California, the rivalry was arguably at its peak with two distinctly opposing styles of play.  Los Angeles relied on the dominant pitching of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, while San Francisco pummeled opposing pitchers with a powerful offense led by Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.  Numerous pennant races made the match-ups between these four Hall of Famers all the more dramatic.  Koufax-Mays was the marquee match-up in all of baseball from 1961-66, pitting arguably the greatest left-handed pitcher of all-time against the greatest center fielder.
Sandy Koufax vs Willie Mays (1955-66)
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
122
27 5 14 25 20 .278 .962
Sandy Koufax vs Willie McCovey (1959-66)
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
48 6 1 2 4 15 .143 .427
Don Drysdale vs Willie Mays (1956-69)
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
243 75 13 30 14 29 .330 .978
Don Drysdale vs Willie McCovey (1959-69)
PA
H HR RBI BB K BA OPS
151 43 12 31 21 24 .336 1.117



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