In honor of the sacred 50th anniversary of our Beloved Dodger Stadium, I will be releasing my top ten moments of Dodger Stadium history. Currently the Dodgers are casting a special vote on what the top ten moments of the last 50 years at the Ravine are. These are my top ten however. Please note these are mine, and mine alone. These are the top ten moments according to me, a lifelong fanatical Dodger fan, who has grown up in southern California. There are so many memories it is almost too hard to choose just ten. I will count down each one per day, leading up to the Dodger’s Opening day game April 5th in San Diego. Each one of these moments will make you smile, laugh, and will bring chills down your spine. Some of them may even take your breath away. Without further adieu, I give you the number nine moment in Dodger Stadium history… Piazza and the Dodgers knock the Giants out of the playoffs on the last day of the 1993 season.
On this day October 3rd, 1993 the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants were playing the third game of a three game series, which was ending the 1993 regular season. For the Dodgers the game was meaningless. The fourth place boys in blue finished 23 games out of first place. However for the Giants, the game meant their season. You see the Giants and Braves entered that final day of the season both tied for first place. Each team had 103 wins. The Braves had just beat the Rockies in their game, minutes before the start of the Dodgers/Giants game. The Giants had to win, in order to force a one-game playoff for the division title, or be eliminated.
Of course the game was very important to Tommy Lasorda. He made sure all of his players knew it, and knew the history behind it. After all, it was October 3rd,the anniversary of Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world against the Dodgers in the 1951 NL three game playoff for the pennant. The home run came against Ralph Branca in the 9th inning of game three, and broke all of Brooklyn’s heart. We all have heard the classic call from Russ Hodges that broke Brooklyn Dodger fan’s hearts…”the Giants win the pennant!”….Ughh I feel sick just writing those words. Well, this game was important, because of history, because we wanted those darn Giants fans to feel what we felt on the second to last day of 1991 and the last day of 1982, and 71, and 62, and of course, because Tommy Lasorda said so. Before the game Tommy had Bobby Thompson autograph a Baseball for him, and then had a closed door meeting with all of his players, to make sure they knew.
Some people believed that the Dodgers were still reeling from losing two out of three to the Giants in San Francisco on the final weekend of the 1991 regular season, losing the division by a measly game to the Atlanta Braves. The Giants had done it in every decade, knocking the Dodgers out of the playoffs in 1962, 1971, and again in 1982, off of a Joe Morgan home run, during the final game in Blue for Steve Garvey, and Ron Cey. This time it was our turn.
The Giants chose to give the ball to rookie Salomon Torres, who was known for throwing hard, but also for his lack of control. The Dodgers would give the ball to grizzled veteran Kevin Gross, who had no-hit the Giants just a year before at Dodger Stadium. This proved to be mistake for the Giants, as Torres was hammered, for three runs through 3.1 innings of work. Gross meanwhile was hitting all of his spots, and the Dodgers took an early 3-1 lead. It was Mike Piazza though who single handily put the nail in the Giants coffin. It wasn’t Kevin Gross’s nine innings of one-run ball. It wasn’t Cory Snyder’s early home run, which put the Dodgers up for good. It wasn’t even a then phenom Raul Mondesi home run. It was Mike Piazza’s not one, but two home runs. Piazza hit his 34th and 35th home runs of the season, capping his remarkable rookie of the year season. He was two for 4 with 4RBI on the game. Helping the Dodgers to clobber the Giants by a score of 12-1. He actually almost hit a third home run, but just got under it. I will never forget this game. I was home and watching the game on ESPN as a 14 year old boy. I remember jumping up and down and screaming for joy after Piazza hit his second home run of the game. I was a huge Pizza fan, and still to this day he is one of my favorite Dodgers of all time.
The images from the game were splendid. Matt Williams kneeling down, hanging his head, Will Clark had that annoying look he always got on his face. It was priceless. It was also Clark’s final game as a Giant. Oh boo hoo tough luck there Clark!
As Dodger fan’s hearts filled with joy, knowing that the Giants would be home on their couches watching the National League Championship Series, Tommy Lasorda rejoiced.
“Was I a little excited? Darn right I was,” Lasorda said. “I want them to know how it feels.”
Of course the Dodgers and Giants would go on to do battle many more times after this. However it was Nancy B. Hefley, legendary Dodger stadium organist, who really twisted the knife in the Giants back. Throughout the game , she serenaded the Giants with ironically beautiful melodies. As the game drew on, we knew the Dodgers were going to win, which made hefley’s songs all the more painful for Giants fans. Hefley played songs such as “ do you know the way to San Jose?”, “If you come to San Francisco, make sure you wear a flower in your hair”, and lastly, “ I left my heart in San Francisco”. After all, revenge is a dish best served cold.