08 August 2011

the 1978 topps dodgers as they were in 1973 - the newcomers and second year players

a handful of 1978 topps dodgers burst on the baseball card scene in 1973.  some, including my favorite of the bunch davey lopes, were put on multi-player rookie cards.  others were allowed to start with their very own card.  like ed goodson.
goodson was the giants' first round pick (3rd overall) in the june 1968 draft.  that's 10 picks ahead of steve garvey and two rounds before ron cey was selected.  not bad.  goodson actually debuted for the no-cals in september of 1970 (he went 1 for 3 in his debut, singling and scoring on a bobby bonds home run before being pinch-hit for by willie mccovey), and played in 7 games while batting .273.  he played in 20 games in 1971 and then 58 in 1972.  in 1973, the giants moved goodson from 1st base to 3rd, and he had the best season of his career.  he played in 102 games, knocked 12 home runs, and hit .302, all career bests.  he struggled in the field, however, making 23 errors at the hot corner, but he wasn't going to displace willie mccovey from his spot at first.

lee lacy is another guy who was granted solo status on his 1973 rookie card.
lacy debuted for the dodgers in june of 1972, and wound up playing in 60 games for them over the remainder of the season.  in his first game, lacy hit in the leadoff spot and went 1 for 5 against the giants' ron bryant.  he wound up batting .259 with 12 rbi and 10 extra base hits that year.  in 1973, he played in 57 games but had substanitally fewer at bats compared to 1972.  his batting average fell to .207 and he had just 2 extra base hits - both doubles.

in september of 1972, the dodgers called up another second baseman from the minors.  this one was dave lopes
lopes was the dodgers' 2nd round pick in the january 1968 draft. like lacy, he debuted in the leadoff spot against the giants, but unlike lacy, lopes was hitless in his 5 at bats.  he wound up hitting .214 in his 11 games that season, and was successful in each of his four stolen base attempts.  in 1973, lopes was eventually named the dodgers' starting second baseman, and he didn't disappoint.  he hit .275 with 36 stolen bases and finished 6th in the rookie of the year voting. 

lefty doug rau also debuted in the 1973 topps set with two other guys on his card
rau made his debut in september of 1972in a game against the cardinals.  while he struck out only 2 batters (bernie carbo both times), rau beat the cardinals with a 3-hit complete game.  it was the first of two complete games (the other was an 8-inning complete game, although rau gave up just one run (unearned)) in just 3 starts for dougie in 1972.  he also pitched in relief in 4 other games and finished his callup with an era of 2.20 and a whip of 0.89!  in 1973, rau was a reliable lefty out of the bullpen.  he pitched in 31 games, and all but 3 were in relief.  he had a 3.96 era and 3 saves on the year, and struck out 51 batters in 63.2 innings.

the guy who caught rau's fantastic debut was none other than fellow 1973 topps rookie card beneficiary, steve yeager
yeager had made his debut a month earlier against the giants, as many dodgers did before him. yeager got the start at catcher, and after striking out in his first at bat, he walked in the third and scored from first on a lee lacy triple.   he later got his first hit, an rbi single scoring bill russell who later won the game with a walk-off home run.  it's weird to see yeager wearing a number other than 7, which he took up when he made the team in 1973.  after hitting .274 in 34 games in 1972, yeager hit .254 in 54 games in 1973.  joe ferguson was getting most of the starts behind the plate, but yeager had entrenched himself on the roster and the dodgers released their other catcher, chris cannizzaro, at the end of the season.

there were a couple of dodgers who were given the multi-player rookie card treatment by topps for the second year in a row in 1973.  first up, the penguin, ron cey
with john hilton and a certain hall-of-famer.  cey finished 6th in the rookie of the year voting in 1973, having hit 15 home runs and driven in 80.  he took over the third base position 6 games into the season and didn't give it up until he was traded after the 1982 season.

charlie hough shared space with future teammate hank webb on his 1973 card
after appearing for the dodgers in each of the previous three seasons without a decision, hough won 4 games (and lost 2) in 1973.  he pitched exclusively in relief as he would until 1977, and picked up 5 saves in 37 games.  he had an era of 2.76 and struck out 70 batters in 71.2 innings, and he also uncorked the first two wild pitches of his career that year.

part 2 tomorrow.  stay tuned.

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