Lots of history with Yankees and Dodgers

There was a time when a matchup of the Yankees and the Dodgers in games that count could only occur during the World Series, which happened more often than with any two major league clubs. The Yanks and Dodgers opposed each other in 11 World Series with the Yankees winning eight of them.

Only the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, who have played for the NBA title 12 times, have had more championship series than the Yankees and the Dodgers. For the record, the most such matchups in the NHL have been seven by two sets of teams – the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs – and in the NFL six between the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. In the Super Bowl alone, the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers played each other three times.

Inter-league play has changed all that for the Yankees and the Dodgers. The two-game series at Dodger Stadium that began Tuesday night marks the fourth in-season encounter by the long-time postseason rivals. The Yankees took two of three games twice before at Dodger Stadium in 2010 and 2004. The only time they have faced each other at Yankee Stadium was June 19 this year in a rainout-forced, separate-admission doubleheader that the teams split.

When the Dodgers left New York that night, their record was 30-40, which had them in last place in the National League West and eight games out of first. Los Angeles has gone 26-8 since then and started play Tuesday night in first place in its division with a 2 ½-game lead. In the 34-game stretch, the Dodgers made up 10 ½ games in the standings. Conversely, the Yankees were 39-33 after the twin bill and in third place in the American League East and 3 ½ games out of first. They have gone 16-18 since and are now in fourth place and 7 ½ games from the top.

In postseason play, the Yankees have a 37-29 record in games – 22-10 at Yankee Stadium, 12-11 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and 3-8 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Yanks won each of the first five times the clubs met in the World Series, in 1941, ’47, ’49, ’52 and ’53 before the Dodgers finally won in 1955.

The Yankees’ 1956 Series victory was highlighted by Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5, the only no-hitter in World Series history. The Yankees are 2-2 in Series against the Dodgers since their move to Los Angeles in 1958. The Yanks were swept in 1963, just one of three times in 40 World Series appearances that they did not win a game (also in 1922 against the Giants and in 1976 against the Reds). The Yankees’ back-to-back World Series titles in 1977 and ’78 mark the most recent instance of back-to-back World Series victories over the same team, the first such occurrence since the Yanks defeated the Dodgers in 1952-53).

Some other nuggets about the two legendary teams:

Babe Ruth’s last job in professional baseball was as a Brooklyn Dodgers coach in 1938. Ruth, who wore uniform No. 3 with the Yankees, donned No. 35 with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers won their only championship in Brooklyn history when left-ander Johnny Podres beat the Yankees, 2-0, in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Dodgers and Yankees staged an exhibition game May 7, 1959 at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles to benefit Roy Campanella, the former Dodgers catcher who had been paralyzed in an auto accident prior to the 1958 season. This game drew 93,103, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game until an exhibition game in 2008 between the Dodgers and the Red Sox.

Of the six World Series championships in team history, the only one clinched by the Dodgers on their home field was in 1963, when lefthander Sandy Koufax pitched a 2-1 victory in Game 4 to clinch the sweep of the Yankees.

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