The last time the New York Yankees played a meaningful game at Dodger Stadium, they were on their way to losing the 1981 World Series.
More than two decades later, New York will visit Los Angeles again—this time for the first interleague series between two of baseball’s marquee franchises.
The Yankees and Dodgers built their storied rivalry in October, meeting in 11 World Series from 1941-81, with New York taking home seven titles and the Dodgers pulling out four championships, including one in Brooklyn in 1955.
The Yankees took the first five World Series encounters from their Brooklyn rivals, but the Dodgers have won four of the last six, including the ’81 Fall Classic, which featured three straight Los Angeles wins at Chavez Ravine before a series-clinching Game 6 victory at Yankee Stadium.
Los Angeles also took two exhibition games from New York at Dodger Stadium in 1999, but the stakes will be considerably higher this time around, especially with both teams in first place and two of the three games televised nationally.
“There was just an unbelievable rivalry between those two teams,” said Tommy Lasorda, who pitched for the Dodgers briefly in Brooklyn before a Hall of Fame career as a manager in Los Angeles.
“Then, when the Dodgers migrated out to California, it was still there. When you played the Yankees, you brought the entire nation together. When you can link these two great teams, from the East to the West, you have the interest of the whole country. That was the joy of it. … When I said my prayers, I said, “If you could see it in your heart for us to be in another World Series, please let it be against the Yankees. I wanted them real, real bad.”
New York had its four-game winning streak snapped Thursday with a 6-1 defeat to Arizona. Alex Rodriguez provided the only offense for the Yankees with his 16th homer of the year—a mammoth 456-foot shot into the upper deck in left field at Bank One Ballpark.
Rodriguez has homered in consecutive games and reached base safely in 53 straight for New York, which leads Boston by 4 1/2 games in the AL East.
The NL West-leading Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of Baltimore with Thursday’s 4-3 win. Adrian Beltre belted a go-ahead solo homer in the top of the eighth inning and Eric Gagne pitched the ninth for his major league-record 79th consecutive save.
The Dodgers lead second-place San Francisco by 1 1/2 games in the West.