This Sunday in Los Angeles, I will be at Dodger Stadium to see the Dodgers play the San Francisco Giants. These two rivals play an afternoon game on Father’s Day and I can’t think of anything better than being at a ball game with my son David and my eight year old granddaughter Molly. I remember being at the Polo Grounds for the Giants and Mets, Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and Yankee Stadium numerous times with my dad. My first game with him came when I was eight years old. I can’t remember if any of those games, that we went to, were on Father’s Day but lets just say anytime I was with my dad at a ballgame, it was Father’s Day for us. There is something special about a dad and his son or daughter doing fun things together. If you are a baseball fan, being together at a ballgame is pure enjoyment.
Molly loves the Dodgers and my son brings her to this beautiful stadium (the third oldest now in baseball) a lot because he’s a great dad. This game just happened to pit the Giants against Molly’s Dodgers and will allow her to witness for the first time, one of the most competitive and longest-standing rivalries in American baseball. Considered by many the greatest sports rivalry of all time, it has its roots in Brooklyn and Washington Heights, upper Manhattan, when in 1890 the teams met in an early version of the World Series (aka the World Championship Series) where the Giants beat the Dodgers 6 games to 3.
As far as rivalries go, the Army-Navy football game is right up there with this one but that game is only once a year. The Yankees-Red Sox thing has become the biggest rivalry over the past 30 to 40 years but, for the better part of 50 years, New York and its surrounding area were captivated by the games between these two storied franchises. There are still plenty of us baby boomers around who grew up with three teams in New York who can attest to those cherished summer days.
Ever notice that the CitiField entrance looks like Ebbets Field? Or that there is a big Dodger Blue 42 in the rotunda. That number 42 to honor the great Jackie Robinson is also a reminder of what baseball once was in the three Boroughs, even if the ‘Bums of Flatbush’ have been in LA longer than they were in Brooklyn and the Giants in San Francisco equally as long where the rivalry continues to this day. The bold move to the west coast by these two teams turned into the most significant change for the betterment of baseball and probably all of sports as it brought professional teams to cities west of the Mississippi and the rest of the country with expansion and the relocation of existing teams.
Over time baseball has done things to keep the game current for the fans. Uniforms were numbered when Babe Ruth was swaggering onto the diamond in the 1920’s and then in 1960 the Chicago White Sox were the first to put player’s names on the back of their jerseys. Teams used a variety of different color themes and styles. Remember those “Pill Box” hats of the 1970’s? Stadiums all became round and now they are back to those quirky styles of the old ballparks.
There have been changes for the fans in the look on the field, but never have the basics of the game changed. We can look back at stats of the great players and teams from any era and make comparisons to today’s players. We can agree or disagree with each other about so many things. That is one of the beauties of the game, a never ending wealth of information we can share with other fans and friends, but mostly with our dads, sons and daughters.
Yea, I admit it, I have been hooked ever since my first game with my dad and the one thing I know for sure is that it will always make my heart feel warm and tingle when I am at a game with my son. Just like I know it did for my Dad.
Happy Fathers Day