16 April 2012

one man down, four more to follow - the 1978 topps dodgers in 1979

we lost ed goodson before the 1979 topps set was released, as his 1978 topps card was a 'final tribute'.  in 1979, there are five more players who received their final hurrah from topps, one who received a final tribute of their own, one who almost did, and three who actually played during the season, but were not featured in the 1980 set.

first up is mike garman
garman had spent the latter part of the 1978 season with the expos thanks to a may trade that netted the dodgers gerry hannahs and another player.  garman returned to the expos for spring training in 1979, but was unfortunately released at the end of march.  that means that this card is a final tribute - here are his full career stats:
congrats on your career, mike.

now we have the curious case of jerry grote
after the 1978 postseason, grote retired. which is to say he became a free agent and didn't sign with anyone.  so, at the time i figured that the stats on the back of his 1979 card were his total career stats and that this was a final tribute.  i was wrong, as grote resurfaced with the royals (and later the dodgers) in 1981.

here's glenn burke
who, like garman, spent most of 1978 with a team other than the dodgers.  he was traded in may for bill north.  unlike garman, burke played in the big leagues in 1979.  he appeared in 23 games for the a's, hitting .213 with 4 runs scored, 4 rbi and 3 stolen bases.  the final hit of his career came off of jack morris, and his final big league appearance was a 14-inning affair on june 4th in which he played the entire game.  shortly after, burke walked out on the team and didn't return until 1980 when he spent a short time with their aaa team.  the remainder of burke's life is fairly well documented - hopefully you caught the documentary 'out' that was aired last year on most sports networks.

vic davalillo
was 42 in 1979, and made 29 appearances for the dodgers, and all but three came as a pinch-hitter.  davalillo was 6 for 25 in that role with a double and two rbi.  he even stole a couple of bases.  unfortunately, topps didn't think his role with the club warranted any more cards after this one.

lance rautzhan got a card of his own in 1979, and it looks a lot like davalillo's
he lasted 12 appearances before the brewers purchased his contract from the dodgers in may.  he was 0-2 with a save and a 7.45 era at the time of the deal.  in milwaukee, he pitched in 3 games, totaling 3 innings of work but walked 10 men.  somehow he gave up only 3 runs.  in his last appearance (which came on june 3), rautzhan's final two-thirds of an inning consisted of a strikeout (hal mcrae), a single (ul washington), two wild pitches, another strikeout (todd cruz), and a walk (willie wilson).  rautzhan spent the rest of the season in the minors, and never did get back to the big leagues.

another member of the 1978 topps dodgers who had jumped ship was featured out of dodger blue for the first time.  that was elias sosa, whose final pitch as a dodger had resulted in one of reggie jackson's three game 6 home runs in the 1977 world series.
by the time he was featured as a member of the a's in the 1979 topps set, sosa was a member of the expos.  he continued the success he had enjoyed during his one year in oakland, saving a career high 18 games for montreal while posting a 1.96 era in his 62 games. he also tallied his only career extra base hit in 1979 - an rbi double off of ron reed of the phillies.

three more members of the 1978 topps dodgers spent the 1979 season out of dodger blue.  the first of these three is tommy john
tj signed a free agent deal with the yankees, of all teams.  i guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  it didn't work out too well for john in terms of postseason success, but he did win 20 games for the second time in his career.  for the 1979 season, he was 21-9 in 36 starts (plus one relief appearance).  his era was 2.96 and he had 17 complete games and 3 shutouts.  the yankees won 89 games that year, but finished 4th in the nl east. john's highlight of the season was his two-hit shutout against the red sox and dennis eckersley on may 20.  he allowed a single to the first batter, jerry remy, but promptly picked him off of first base.  john then retired 26 of the remaining 27 batters he faced (fred lynn was stranded on second after his fourth inning double) to finish with the shutout win.

lee lacy went to the pirates as a free agent for the 1979 season
and rick rhoden joined him in pittsburgh thanks to an early season trade for jerry reuss.
lacy played mostly left field for the bucs, appearing in 84 games and batting .247.  as a pirate, lacy made it to the world series for the third year in a row, although this time he won a ring.  he appeared in 4 games during the 1979 fall classic, all as a pinch-hitter, and was 1 for 4 in those appearances.  rhoden, on the other hand, was supposed to be a fixture in the starting rotation for chuck tanner's team.  unfortunately, he made only one start for pittsburgh before being lost for the season due to injury.  he did go 1 for 1 at the plate in that start, so at least he had a 1.000 batting average that year.

for the rest of the team, it was business as usual.  dusty baker
played 151 games in left and hit 23 homers with 88 rbi.  his first homer of the season came off of joe niekro, and the last bomb he hit in 1979 came courtesy of joe's brother phil.

ron cey
was still at third, where he played in 150 games, swatting 28 homers and driving in 81 while batting .281.  the penguin made the all-star team for the sixth straight year and also for the last time in his career, going 0 for 1 with a walk after replacing starter mike schmidt.  this was the year that dave parker showed off his arm, nailing jim rice trying to stretch a 7th inning double into a triple with cey making the tag. parker threw brian downing out at the plate in the following inning, but that has nothing to do with ron cey.  cey hit the 150th home run of his career in 1979 - it came against hall of famer gaylord perry.  in fact, it was the second home run cey hit off of perry that day, and the third time he had taken him deep that season.

terry forster
looks like he was pitching at boise state on his 1979 topps card.  after his stellar 1978 season, forster had some arm troubles in 1979 and appeared in only 17 games.  he was 1-2 with 2 saves and had only one plate appearance on the year - just like rhoden.  and, like rhoden, his obp for the year was 1.000, although forster managed a walk rather than a base hit.

steve garvey had another 'garvey' season in 1979
he played in every game, got his 200 hits (204, actually), hit over .300 (.315), and was voted to start the all-star game for the sixth straight year.  he hit 28 homers and drove in 110 runs, but didn't walk much.  he also hit into a bunch of double plays - 25 to be exact; the most in the national league.  as an all-star, garvey was 0 for 2 with a run and a walk.  like his fellow infielder ron cey, garvey hit his 150th career homer in 1979, although his was just a solo shot off of john denny - nothing spectacular.

the rest of the 1978 topps dodgers in 1979 will be up tomorrow.

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