24 September 2010

in the beginning, there was only lasorda aka a primer on the evolution of the 1978 topps dodgers

after documenting the evolution of the infield that is this blog's namesake, i decided to do the same thing for the team that i first fell in love with, the 1977 dodgers, as depicted in the 1978 topps set. there are 29 cards in the 1978 topps dodger team set, featuring 27 different individuals (davey lopes is on the nlcs summary card, and there is the obligatory yet fantastic team card as well). this post is about the beginning of the road towards the fulfillment of that team set.

in the beginning, 1954 to be exact, there was only tom lasorda.
i thought about not including this card, since lasorda is a player, not the manager that he would be in the 1978 set. after thinking about what that would mean for the players that later became managers, i decided to include tommy's only topps card from his playing days.

lasorda debuted for the dodgers in august of 1954 against saint louis, relieving erv palica. the first batter he faced was future manager red schoendienst, who singled. in his three innings of relief lasorda gave up 6 hits and 3 runs, including a sacrifice fly to stan musial and a home run to bill sarni. in all, he pitched in 4 games (all in relief) and did not earn a decision.

he was back with the dodgers in 1955, although topps did not include him in their set that year. he made his first appearance, and his first career start, on 5/5/55 against the cardinals. while he struck out two and did not allow a hit, he pitched only one inning before being replaced. that's because he walked 2 and threw 3 wild pitches allowing a run to score. lasorda made 3 more appearances for the dodgers that year, two of which were against the cardinals. in all, lasorda appeared in 8 games for the dodgers, 4 against the cardinals, 3 against the pirates and 1 against the reds.

the kansas city a's purchased lasorda from the dodgers, and put him to work in 1956. he appeared in 18 games for the a's, starting 5, and had a record of 0-4. he did get to pitch against the yankees, and struck out mickey mantle twice out of the four times he faced him. for me, the really cool thing is that he struck out billy martin, his managerial nemesis in the 1977 world series, in their only head-to-head battle.

speaking of the yankees, they actually traded for lasorda during the 1956 season, but kept him in the minors. he was reacquired by the dodgers in early 1957 and was re-assigned to the minors. he had a great season for montreal in 1957, but never did get called up to the majors. so, his final record in the big leagues was a disappointing 0-4. i always wished that he would be activated for some september game to be brought in with 2 outs in the 5th inning of a tie game to get a shot at his first major league pitching victory.

tommy would go on to manage in the dodger minor league organization through the 1972 season, after which he would get the call to return to the majors, this time as a coach.

with no 1955, 1956 or 1957 topps cards for tommy, our next entry will be in 1963 when we see the first of the 1978 topps dodger players make their topps card debuts...

1 comment:

Jim said...

Really looking forward to this series - what a great idea!