The 1990s proved to be a series of ups and downs for the Dodgers. It also marked a change of ownership after the O'Malley family's control for nearly five decades. The Dodgers won a division title in 1995 and a wild-card playoff berth in 1996, but it marked the first decade since the 1930s that the ballclub did not make a World Series appearance.
After finishing second in 1990 and 1991, the Dodgers posted a club-record 99 losses en route to a last-place finish in 1992. The Dodgers rebounded to third place in 1993 and held a 3 1/2-game lead in 1994 when a strike halted the season and canceled plans for a trip to the Fall Classic. The Dodgers won the Western Division in 1995, but lost to Cincinnati in the Division Series in three games. The Dodgers and Padres were tied for first place on the final day of the season in 1996. Both teams met at Dodger Stadium, having already clinched playoff berths because of an expanded playoff format that included the second-place team with the best record in each league. The Dodgers lost, 2-0, and were later swept by Atlanta in the Division Series.
The 1990 season celebrated the Dodgers' 100th anniversary in the National League. The pitching staff led the Majors with 29 complete games and the Dodgers finished second to the eventual World Champion Cincinnati Reds. At age 22, right-hander Ramon Martinez became the youngest Dodger to win 20 games since Ralph Branca. Martinez also tied Sandy Koufax's club record with 18 strikeouts against the Braves on June 4 at Dodger Stadium. Martinez would later join Koufax as the only Dodger pitchers in history to throw both a no-hitter and strike out 18 batters in a game. Dodger shortstop Jose Offerman made his debut in 1990 as he became the 6th Dodger in history to hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat. "Fernandomania" also had one last hurrah as Fernando Valenzuela pitched his only career no-hitter on June 29 against St. Louis.
The exciting 1991 season featured a classic divisional race between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. During the final six weeks of the season, neither club held a lead of more than two games. The Braves finally edged Los Angeles on the final weekend of the season to win the crown by one game. The Dodgers were led by newcomers Darryl Strawberry, whose 28 home runs are the most by a left-handed batter in Los Angeles history; and Brett Butler, the center fielder who set a National League record with 161 errorless games. Bouncing back from shoulder surgery, Orel Hershiser went 7-2 with a 3.46 ERA in 1991.
During the 1990s, the Dodgers set a record with five consecutive National League Rookies of the Year: Eric Karros (1992), Mike Piazza (1993), Raul Mondesi (1994), Hideo Nomo (1995) and Todd Hollandsworth (1996).
After belting 20 home runs as a rookie in 1992, Karros became a cornerstone to the Dodger offense in the 1990s. He played in more games than any other Dodger during the decade and his 242 home runs are atop the all-time Los Angeles list, as he surpassed Ron Cey (228) in 2000. Karros also became one of three players in Dodger history to record five or more seasons with at least 30 home runs.
Piazza spent 5 1/2 seasons in Los Angeles, rewriting the record book and placing his name alongside some of the most prolific hitting catchers in history. He set rookie records with 35 home runs and 112 RBI in 1993, including two home runs on the final day of the season as the Dodgers knocked the Giants out of the divisional race with a 12-1 victory at Dodger Stadium. Piazza later set Dodger single-season records in 1997 with a .362 batting average, 40 home runs and a .638 slugging percentage. The Dodgers traded Piazza to Florida in a blockbuster seven-player trade in 1998.
During the 1990s, Mondesi became one of the most productive outfielders in Dodger history. He is the only Dodger to record at least 30 steals and 30 home runs in the same season, having accomplished the 30-30 plateaus in 1997 and 1999. Mondesi also became the first two-time Gold Glove winner since Steve Garvey won four straight from 1974-77.
Nomo burst upon the Major League scene in 1995 after a successful career with the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Japanese Professional League. As the first Japanese player to appear in the Majors since San Francisco's Masanori Murakami in 1965, Nomo went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA and a league-leading 236 strikeouts. He also started the 1995 All-Star Game at Texas. In 1996, Nomo pitched his first career no-hitter at the most unlikely site in baseball -- Colorado's Coors Field -- a 9-0 victory on September 17.
In 1994, Chan Ho Park made history as he was the first South Korean-born player to pitch in the Major Leagues. Along with Darren Dreifort, they became the 17th and 18th players since the First-Year Player Draft began in 1965 to make their professional debuts in the Majors.
On March 19, 1998, Major League Baseball owners approved the sale of the Dodgers from the O'Malley family to The FOX Group. In October 1998, the Dodgers were named the "most successful organization in Major League Baseball during the 20th century" in a study conducted by Street and Smith's SportsBusiness Journal. Los Angeles finished first with a century performance index of 7.63 on a 10-point scale, based on a rating formula that evaluated the on-the-field and ticket window success of each of the 35 Major League teams that played at least 10 seasons from 1901-98. The Brooklyn Dodgers finished ninth with a 5.38 century performance index rating. The SportsBusiness Journal also calculated separate performance ratings for each decade in the 20th century, with the Dodgers topping the rankings in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The 1998 season marked the Hall of Fame induction of Jaime Jarrin, who became the second Spanish-language broadcaster named to the shrine. The Dodgers also retired the uniform No. 20 of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton, who became the 10th Dodger to have his number retired. The others are Pee Wee Reese (1), Tommy Lasorda (2), Duke Snider (4), Jim Gilliam (19), Walter Alston (24), Sandy Koufax (32), Roy Campanella (39), Jackie Robinson (42) and Don Drysdale (53).
In 1999, Hall of Famers Vin Scully and Tommy Lasorda celebrated their 50th season with the organization. Scully, one of the most recognizable voices in baseball who has called three perfect games and 18 no-hitters during his career, was inducted into Cooperstown in 1982 as the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award. Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers from 1976-96, guided the Dodgers to World Championships in 1981 and 1988. He also became baseball's goodwill ambassador with his legendary "bleeding Dodger blue" stories. In 1997, Lasorda became only the 14th manager to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
With a crowd of 37,717 for the Dodgers-Braves game on April 20, Los Angeles surpassed the 100 million mark in home attendance since Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. The Dodgers also surpassed the 3 million mark in attendance for the fourth consecutive season and 14th time overall, a Major League record. Since 1973, the Dodgers have also drawn at least 2 million fans for a record 27 consecutive seasons.
The Dodgers ended the century with a third-place finish in 1999. On the field, right-hander Kevin Brown anchored the starting rotation with 18 wins and Jeff Shaw led Los Angeles with 34 saves. Mark Grudzielanek's .326 average was the highest by a Dodger shortstop in history and outfielder Gary Sheffield joined Hall of Famer Duke Snider as the only Dodger to hit at least .300 in one season with 30 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 runs and 100 walks.
Following the 1999 season, Robert A. Daly, Chairman and Co-CEO of Warner Bros. and Warner Music Group since 1980, purchased a minority ownership stake in the Dodgers on October 28. Daly became Chairman and CEO to serve as the club's managing partner.
From 1900-99, the Dodgers posted an 8,061-7,361 record, the third-highest winning percentage (.523) among teams in the 20th century. Los Angeles also registered the best record (797-757) among National League West teams during the 1990s and ranked fourth in winning percentage (.517) among National League teams.
In addition to a winning tradition, the Dodgers played a major role among sports franchises throughout the 20th century. From Uncle Wilbert Robinson to Tommy Lasorda, a collection of unforgettable personalities and great moments fills Dodger scrapbooks with golden memories.