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The top 5: New York vs. Brooklyn


The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are in the fledgling stages of another New York-Brooklyn rivalry, with round two coming on Tuesday night. The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants were the No. 1 Brooklyn-New York rivals, as they loathed each other, and have carried that hatred with them to California. The New York Yankees and Dodgers also staged a rivalry while the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, facing each other seven times in the World Series. There have been a number of other major-league Brooklyn teams, though, besides the Dodgers. In baseball, there were a pair of Brooklyn clubs that played for one season in 1890, the Gladiators and Ward's Wonders, and the Brooklyn Tip-Tops played in the Federal League (a brief rival to the Major Leagues) in 1914 and '15. The New York Americans (born in 1925) of the NHL played their final season in Brooklyn (while renaming themselves the Brooklyn Americans) in 1941-'42. And there was a quartet of Brooklyn football teams: early-NFLers the Lions and Tigers, the Horsemen of the short-lived American Football League in 1926 and the Dodgers of the All-America Football Conference in the 1940s. Here are four Brooklyn vs. New York classics with one obscure matchup thrown in to mix things up.

5. New York (Football) Giants vs. Brooklyn Lions, 1926: We're tossing in a wild card here to avoid an all-Dodgers list. The Lions lasted all of one season in the NFL, and for their last three games they were merged with another Brooklyn team. C.C. Pyle and Red Grange formed the American Football League after being thwarted by Tim Mara in their attempts to gain an NFL franchise to play in Yankee Stadium. The Brooklyn Horsemen (so named because they featured two of Notre Dame's famed Four Horsemen) were one of the teams in the rival league, but after only four games, and fighting with the Lions for the right to play at Ebbets Field, they merged with their NFL counterpart. The influx of new players didn't help as the Lions lost their last three games, one, 20-0, to the Los Angeles Californians, and the last two to the Giants. The first meeting occurred on Nov. 25, with the Giants winning, 17-0, at Ebbets Field, and three days later, the Giants came out victorious once again, winning 27-0 at the Polo Grounds, in the last-ever game for the Lions-Horsemen. The Lions finished the season with a 3-8 record before folding, while the Giants went 8-4-1. The Giants, in their second year of existence, had six shutout wins that season, while getting shut out four times themselves. The Frankford Yellow Jackets were crowned NFL Champions, with a 14-1-2 record in '26.

4. 1941 World Series, NY Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers: This was the third overall World Series appearance for the Dodgers, after losing to the Boston Red Sox (and their star left-handed pitcher Babe Ruth) in 1916 and the Cleveland Indians in 1920 (whose second baseman, Bill Wambsganss, turned an unassisted triple play in the Series), and the first time they would face the Yankees. Leo Durocher was in his third season as Brooklyn's manager (100-54 that year) and they featured a 2010 San Francisco Giants-like roster of castoffs, with Ducky Medwick, Dolph Camilli, Dixie Walker and Billy Herman coming from elsewhere to team up with youngsters Pee Wee Reese and Pete Reiser,. The Yankees, on the other hand, were stacked with Hall of Famers and All-Stars, with Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Charlie Keller, Tommy Henrich, Joe Gordon and Phil Rizzuto, and finished with a 101-53 record. The Yankees headed into the infamous Game 4 with a two games to one lead, but the Dodgers looked like they were about to tie the Series up, leading 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. But Hugh Casey's curveball (or possibly a spitter) deflected off catcher Mickey Owen's glove as Henrich swung at strike three. The Yankee outfielder made it safely to first, and DiMaggio followed with a single and Keller drove them both in with a double. The Yanks added two more runs, and won, 7-4. The Yankees won the next game, 3-1, to win the Series. Dodger second baseman Herman stated, "We were licked before we went out on the field the next day. We couldn't have beaten a girls' team."

3. 1956 World Series, NY Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers: This was the seventh and final World Series between the two teams while the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. The Yankees finished the season with a 97-57 record, while the Dodgers went 93-61. Brooklyn won the first game, 6-3, with Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges homering off Whitey Ford, and they knocked Don Larsen out of Game 2 in the second inning, going on to win, 13-8. The Yankees bounced back to win the next two games, setting up Game 5 and Larsen's perfect game, which the Yankees won, 2-0, with Mickey Mantle homering off Sal Maglie. Larsen was an average pitcher in all respects and an unlikely candidate to throw the only perfect game in World Series history. And he loved the nightlife. Yankee starting pitcher Bob Turley said of his teammate about his pre-perfect game condition, "He'd slept only about half an hour the night before so he went to the training room and took a nap until noon, an hour before the game." After the game Larsen stated, "Phooey on all this deep thinking stuff. I only shook off a couple of Yogi's signals, but he stuck with them, so I went ahead and pitched what he called." The Series wasn't over, though, as Brooklyn won Game 6, a 10-inning 1-0 pitcher's duel, with both Clem Labine and Turley going the distance. Robinson knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th. But there wouldn't be any Game 7 drama, as the Yankees cruised to a 9-0 victory, powered by two Yogi Berra home runs and one each by Elston Howard and Moose Skowron.

2. 1955 World Series, NY Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers: Brooklyn finally didn't have to "Wait till next year" as they won their one and only World Series before moving to LA. They went 98-55 that year, with the Yankees producing a 96-58 mark. The Yankees won the first two games, 6-5 and 4-2, with Robinson's famous steal of home taking place in the opener. Up to that point, no team had come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the World Series, and Robinson gave the Dodgers a pep talk after the Game 2 loss. And it worked, as Dodger lefty Johnny Podres threw a complete game on his 23rd birthday, winning 8-3. The Dodgers won the next two games as well, and with his two homers in Game 5, Duke Snider became the first player to hit four home runs in two different World Series. The Yankees came back to win Game 6, behind Whitey Ford's complete game, but the Dodgers would finally defeat the Yankees, when Podres tossed a complete-game shutout in Game 7, with Hodges driving in both Dodger runs. In the sixth inning, left fielder Sandy Amoros made one of the most famous catches in World Series history, gloving a slicing Yogi Berra drive down the left-field line (and he relayed the ball to Reese for a double play). Snider said of the young World Series MVP, Podres, "We were getting on to our team bus at Ebbets Field," [and Podres] "hopped up the steps, started down the aisle, and told us with all the confidence in the world: ‘Just get me one run today. That's all I'll need. Just one.'" And he proved to be prophetic.

1. 1951 NL Playoff, NY Giants vs. Brooklyn Dodgers: Here's the rivalry that the Knicks and Nets can emulate, as the Giants and Dodgers had an intense hatred for each other and their rivalry was bigger than Yankees-Dodgers or today's Yankees-New York Mets rivalry. Leo Durocher's "Nice guys finish last" quote (which was not exactly what he said but has been condensed into a pithy saying) was said about Bill Terry and the Giants. And a few years before that, Terry said of the Dodgers, "Are they still in the league?" Everybody remembers Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard Round the World, but that 1951 playoff was actually a three-game series. After winning 12 of their final 13 games to catch the Dodgers, the Giants won the first game of the tiebreaking series, when, after falling behind 1-0 on Dodger Andy Pafko's home run, Thomson blasted a two-run shot off Branca to foreshadow his famous homer. Monte Irvin added a solo homer, and the Giants won, 3-1, with Jim Hearn going the distance to win his 17th game of the year. The Dodgers won Game 2 in a laugher, 10-0. Labine threw a complete game, and Pafko, Robinson, Hodges and Rube Walker all homered. The Dodgers drew first blood in the final game, on a Robinson RBI, but Thomson hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to tie it. The game seemed to be over when Brooklyn scored three runs in the eighth on a Sal Maglie wild pitch and Pafko and Billy Cox run-scoring singles, but the Giants rallied in the bottom of the ninth, with Alvin Dark leading off with a single, followed by a Don Mueller single, a Monte Irvin pop out to first and a Whitey Lockman double, setting up Thomson's heroics. Branca replaced Don Newcombe and the rest is history. There were future Mets all around Thomson when he homered: future pitching coach Rube Walker was behind the plate for the Dodgers, Willie Mays was on deck and future Met manager Wes Westrum was up after Mays (not to mention Branca being Bobby Valentine's father-in-law). The Giants, though, would lose to the Yankees in the World Series, four games to two.