18 October 2010

let's begin again - 1963 brings us the first players in the evolution of the 1978 topps dodgers

on april 16, 1962, the first player who would eventually be featured as a dodger in topps' 1978 set debuted in the major leagues, although he wouldn't get his first topps card until 1963. manny mota was a 24 year old outfielder (mostly) for the san francisco giants, and the team he played against in his very first major league game was none other than the los angeles dodgers. he went 0 for 1 as a late inning replacement for harvey kuenn, and the giants shellacked the dodgers 19-8.
but, as you can tell, mota is not listed as a giant on his 1963 topps card. that's because after the season ended, mota was traded to the houston colt .45's for joey amalfitano. he still appears in a giants uniform, though. mota never played for houston, as they flipped him to the pirates in april of 1963 for someone named howie goss.

significantly for mota (because he would become a successful pinch hitter later in his career), he made his first career pinch hitting appearance against the dodgers in the game following his debut, and got his first career pinch hit on june 2, 1962 against the mets, pinch hitting for jim davenport. it was his only pinch hit of the season in 16 such appearances. with the pirates in 1963, mota hit .270 while playing left field with some right and center and even some time at second base thrown in to go along with the occasional pinch hitting appearance. he was 5 for 21 as a pinch hitter with a lone rbi.

about a year after mota debuted, the second of our eventual 1978 topps dodgers (and another pinch hitter extraordinaire) made his first appearance in the big leagues. vic davalillo suited up for the cleveland indians on april 9, 1963 as their starting center fielder. he hit in the leadoff spot and went 0 for 4 against jim 'mudcat' grant. topps featured him in their 1963 set along with 3 other rookie hopefuls. luckily for me, none of the other guys did much, and i was able to get this card on the cheap (i will not have the same success tracking down ken mcmullen's 1963 topps rookie card).
davalillo made 2 pinch hitting appearances in 1963, and was successful both times. he singled off of bill monbouquette on august 25 while pinch hitting for willie tasby, and hit a run scoring single off of ron kline while hitting for gary bell on september 2. for the season, davalillo hit .292 in 90 games.

we'll pick up a few more future 1978 topps dodgers in 1964, but until then, here's the tally of players by year so far...
1963 - 2/27
davalillo - 1
lasorda - 1 (1954)
mota - 1

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