26 May 2011

the 1978 topps dodgers in 1972, veteran style

yesterday was the newbies, and today we'll begin the veteran lesson with dusty baker, but first a comment about high numbers.  of the 19 cards topps issued in 1972 that featured the members of the 1978 topps dodgers, 13 are numbered 530 and higher. five are in the 700 series.  that's just wrong, especially for a guy cherry picking singles almost 40 years later.  anyway, here's dusty baker - number 764 in the set.
baker was installed as the braves primary center fielder in 1972, and he responded with a breakout season. he placed 3rd in the national league in batting average at .321, and 8th in obp and slugging which combined for a sixth place finish in ops (.888). in 127 games, he hit 17 home runs (including the first of his career which came off of future teammate jerry reuss) and drove in 76 runs. he also had a 10th inning walk-off home run against the cardinals, and finished 22nd in the league mvp voting.

vic davalillo is card number 785!
played in 117 games for the defending world champion pirates in 1972, the most games he had appeared in since he was the indians' starting center fielder in 1968. he hit .318 on the year, but failed to qualify for the batting title (he would have been 4th, behind dusty baker) by about 100 plate appearances. he did have one pa in the nlcs against the reds, drawing an intentional walk as a pinch hitter in game 3. on the season, davalillo was 5 for 12 with 2 walks and a sacrifice fly as a pinch hitter.

mike garman is featured on a low numbered card (79), but...
for the second year in a row, and not the last as we will see next year, garman was featured on a multi-player rookie card. this time, he shares the space with a hall of famer and a likely 'hall of pretty good' player. as for garman, he was used out of the bullpen for the first time in 1972. called up in september, he appeared in 3 games. the first, he pitched 2 innings of relief in milwaukee allowing just one hit ( a home run to joe lahoud) which came after he struck out george scott for his lone k of the season. a couple of weeks later, garman again came in from the bullpen, this time pitching a scoreless and hitless fifth inning against the indians. his third and final appearance of the season was a start against the tigers in boston. garman got just one out while allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk before he was pulled. he was saddled with the loss, his lone decision of the season, while his era jumped to 10.80.

steve garvey (#686)
garvey, who had played 81 games exclusively at 3rd base in 1971, appeared in 96 games in 1972, which included his first 3 at first base.  at the plate, garvey's ops jumped 62 points in 1972 to .734, essentially due to an increase in base hits (mostly singles). his fielding percentage took a nosedive, though - down to a whopping .902 as he led all national league third basemen in errors. thus, the impetus for the move to first.

jerry grote (#655)

grote appeared in just 64 games for the mets in 1972, sharing time behind the dish with duffy dyer. he missed large parts of june, august and september due to injury, and finally had surgery on his right elbow in september. he still managed to throw out 53% (20/38) of the runners who attempted to steal against him, though. grote wound up hitting .210 on the year with 3 home runs and 21 rbi.

tommy john (a pedestrian number 264)
john came over to the dodgers in the december 1971 trade that sent dick allen back to the white sox. as such, 2/5 of the 1978 topps dodger starting rotation was complete! he made 29 starts for the dodgers and posted a 11-5 record with a 2.89 era. he did not earn a decision in his final six starts. against future 1978 topps teammates, john held dusty baker to one hit in 6 at bats while jerry grote was 0 for 4 with a sac fly and an intentional walk. burt hooton was 0 for 1 against john, ed goodson was 2 for 6 (both singles), and ted martinez went 5 for 13 with a double and a triple against john (although he did strike out twice).

ted martinez (#544)
martinez played in 103 games for yogi berra (who replaced the late gil hodges as mets' manager in the spring of 1972), mostly at second and short, but he also appeared at third and all three outfield positions. he hit just .224, but set career highs in hits (74) and steals (7). he hit just one home run and drove in 19 in 1972.

rick monday (#730)
monday was acquired by the cubs in an offseason trade, straight up for lefty ken holtzman. both guys got a high numbered card showing them in their new unis. sort of. monday was installed as the cubs' everyday center fielder and hit .249 in 138 games. he had 11 home runs, including two in a game against don wilson and the astros in july. his biggest game of the year, however, came in may against the phillies. in that game, monday hit two home runs off of phillie starter bill champion and then hit another against reliever bucky brandon in his third at bat of the day. his next time up he popped out to third and then singled in the 9th. his last home run of the season came off of future hall of famer tom seaver, the first of 11 long balls monday would hit off of tom terrific.

manny mota (#596) 
mota played in 118 games for the dodgers in 1972, and was their primary left fielder. it turned out to be the last time in his career that he would play in over 100 games, and he made the most of it. manny hit .323 with 120 hits, 5 homers (including one off of future teammate jerry reuss and an inside the park job against bruce kison), and an obp of .375. he finished 23rd in the league mvp voting and was 4th in the league in outfield fielding percentage behind roberto clemente, rick monday and pete rose. of those three, only clemente won the gold glove (the other two went to cesar cedeno and dodger willie davis). as a pinch hitter, mota was 9 for 24 with 2 sacrifices and 2 walks.

bill russell (#736)
russell made the move to the infield in 1972, spending the vast majority of the season (121 out of 127 games) at shortstop, thus beginning what was essentially 11 years as the dodger shortstop. the stability with his position may have contributed to improvements at the plate (if you believe in those types of performance cliches) as he hit .272 with an ops of .692, both big improvements over his 1971 numbers. russell also hit the first walk-off home run of his career in 1972, a solo shot against the giants. on the defensive side, he did make more errors than any other national league shortstop, however, joining garvey in that regard.

reggie smith (#565/566 and 88)
reggie got the three card treatment from topps in 1972, thanks to an in action' card,
(the only one of the 1978 topps dodgers to be so honored - an occurrence that i am working to correct with some 'cards that should have been' so stay tuned), and due to his 3rd place finish in rbis for the american league in 1971.
that's a real nice card with the late harmon killebrew and frank robinson. on the field, smith moved to right field for the bosox in 1972, making way for tommy harper. he played in 131 games, but had a bit of a down year by his standards. he hit 21 home runs (with 2 in one game three times) and drove in 74, but his average dipped to .270. even so, he was named to the all-star team (he struck out as a pinch hitter) and finished 26th in the league mvp voting.

don sutton (#530)
sutton had his best year to date, finishing with a record of 19-9 and an era of 2.08. 1972 proved to be the first of 5 straight seasons in which sutton finished in the top 5 for the cy young award (he was 5th in '72). he also led the league with 9 shutouts, which included two 2-hitters and a 3-hitter. his best game may have been one in which he received no decision, as he allowed just 1 hit in 10 innings (a 7th inning single) of a 13 inning 1-0 loss to montreal. sutton was the dodgers' lone representative at the all-star game, and he pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just a single to reggie jackson while striking out two (bobby grich and mickey lolich).

sutton was fairly successful against his future teammates as well. against sutton in 1972, dusty baker was 1 for 5 with a strikeout, jerry grote and ted martinez were both 0 for 3 with a strikeout, and ed goodson was 2 for 8 with an rbi. vic davalillo had the most success against sutton with 5 hits in 1 at bats.

so, those were the 1978 topps dodgers, well, the veterans anyway, in 1972.

here's the tally so far:

17/27 players featured by topps in 1971

total appearances:

baker 2 (1971-1972)
cey 1 (1972)
davalillo 10 (1963-1972)
forster 1 (1972)
garman 2 (1971-1972)
garvey 2 (1971-1972)
grote 9 (1964-1972)
hooton 1 (1972)
hough 1 (1972)
john 9 (1964-1972)
lasorda 1 (1954)
martinez 2 (1971-1972)
monday 6 (1967-1972)
mota 10 (1963-1972)
oates 1 (1972)
russell 3 (1970-1972)
smith 6 (1967-1972)
sutton 7 (1966-1972)

teams represented so far:

15 (dodgers, indians, colt .45's, pirates, white sox, astros, mets, a's, red sox, angels, expos, cardinals, braves, cubs, orioles)

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