20 July 2012

they were the champions - the 1978 topps dodgers who beat the yankees in 1981

it's time to see what the 1978 topps dodgers looked like in 1981.  at least the ones who remained dodgers, that is.  you'll note that the doug rau card in the non-dodger post features yellow letters in the hat.  not sure what that's all about, as the rest of the guys have 'dodgers' written in white.  as usual, johnnie b. leads it off.
in 1981, dusty baker finished third in the national league in batting with a .320 average.  he hit the second most singles (99) in the league behind pete rose, and was fourth overall in hits. he was named to the all-star team for the first time, and he also won his first gold glove and second silver slugger award in 1981.  one of his 9 home runs during the regular season was a pinch hit, walk-off home run in the 11th inning of a game against the cardinals.  in the postseason, dusty did most of his damage in the nlcs against the expos, and in fact, in the dodgers' game 3 7-1 victory  in which he was 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored and 3 runs driven in.  in the nlds and world series, he hit .167 with just one extra base hit.

ron cey reached a career high in terms of batting average in 1981. 
he hit .288 over 85 of the dodgers' 110 games that year, with 13 homers and 50 rbi.  5 of those homers came against the expos (one was a walk-off), and he also homered off of former teammate rick rhoden.  the highlight home run of the year for the penguin, however, must have been the one he hit at riverfront stadium off of mario soto on may 23rd. that was the 200th homer of his career.  cey missed most of the final month of the season after being beaned by the giants' tom griffin in early september, and he did not play in the nlds against the astros.

anyway, the penguin returned for the nlcs, where he had an .714 ops and 3 rbi. then, in the world series against the yankees, cey hit .350 and made a memorable fielding play in game 3 to catch a bunt and start a double play late in the game.  later in the series, he suffered a horrific beaning in the head by goose gossage, but his 6 rbi in the series and .958 ops earned him his third of the series mvp award.

i can't tell you how badly it sucks that dodger nation couldn't get cey voted in to start the 1980 all-star game.  the rest of the infield (as we will see later) gets the all-star banner on their 1981 topps cards, but cey is left without.

terry forster was back from injury in 1981, and he appeared in 21 games for the dodgers.
he was 0-1 with a 4.11 era over 30.2 innings in the regular season, but he turned in 2.2 scoreless innings for the team in the postseason. he retired the only man he faced in the nlds (jose cruz in game 2) as well as the only batter he faced in the nlcs (rodney scott in game 2).  in the world series, he first appeared in (surprise) game 2.  he relieved starter burt hooton in the 7th inning with no outs and two men on.  after a bobby murcer sacrifice, forster intentionally walked jerry mumphrey and then induced larry milbourne to hit into an inning ending double play - russell to lopes to garvey.  unfortunately, the dodgers lost that game, as they had the previous two postseason games in which forster appeared.  forster did get to pitch in a game in which the dodgers were victorious, however, when he took the mound in game 4 of the fall classic. in that game, forster pitched a scoreless inning in whiche he allowed two walks and a single.  one of those walks, it should be noted, was to reggie jackson with first base open, so no shame in that free pass.

steve garvey played in all 110 dodger games in 1981, but his batting average dropped to .283 and his ops fell to .732.
he hit just 10 home runs but lead the team in rbi with 64 and runs scored with 63. while he kept his consecutive games streak alive, another streak ended as, for the first time since 1973, garvey did not start in the all star game. he was still named to the all-star team as a reserve, and he went 1 for 2 with a double.

in the postseason, garvey likely would have been named the mvp of the division series had such an award been given. he hit .386 with 2 home runs and an ops of 1.158 in the dodgers five game series against the astros. against the expos in the nlcs, he hit .286 with one home run and an ops of .714. garvey bounced back in the world series against the yankees, hitting .417, and leading both teams with 10 hits. 9 of those hits were singles, however, and he failed to drive in a run. he did get to be the second player to reach the mound during the celebration, and so he is in the iconic 1981 world champion photo with steve yeager and steve howe. speaking of yeager, he shared the series mvp award with pedro guerrero and ron cey, although during the locker room celebration, garvey was mistakenly told that he had won the award, not yeager.

garvey's 1981 topps card is one of my favorites of his.  it's not posed like so many of his topps cards had been to that point, and it's actually a point of action that isn't seen too often on a card.

unlike garvey, burt hooton won an award in 1981 - the nlcs mvp award to be precise. 
before that, however, hooton earned a spot on the all-star team for the first time.  for the season, he was 11-6 with a 2.28 era in the abbreviated season, logging 142.1 innings in 23 starts.  he threw 5 complete games and 4 shutouts to boot, including back to back 4-hit shutouts against the cubs and pirates in august.  hooton made one start in the nlds against the astros, and held them to 3 hits and one earned run in 7 innings as the dodgers took game 3.  he then made two starts against montreal in the nlcs.  in both game 1 and game 4, hooton earned the win by going 7.1 innings and allowing no earned runs. he also made two starts in the world series, going 6 innings in game 2 and allowing no earned runs in the dodgers' loss, and then pitching into the sixth inning and getting the win in their game 6 clincher.  overall, hooton had a 0.82 era in 5 postseason starts in 1981.

also, that may or may not be ron cey's right arm in the lower right corner of hooton's card.

in his fifth full season as the dodgers' manager, tom lasorda lead them to a 63-47 record. 
the dodgers were 36-21 and in first place when the strike hit, but just 27-26 after play resumed.  still, lasorda earned the third pennant of his tenure and a much desired rematch against the yankees.  this is the last team photo card in a topps set until 2001, so say goodbye to dodger stadium.

speaking of saying goodbye, dave lopes played his final season in la in 1981, and he hit only .206 while playing in just over half of the team's games.
he hit 5 home runs (2 of which were lead off shots, and both against dave roberts of the mets), scored 35 runs, and stole 20 bases . still, he was voted to start the all star game for the third straight year, walking in his only plate appearance. in the postseason, lopes hit .200 in the nlds, with one run scored and a single stolen base. he stole 5 bases against the expos in the nlcs, and hit .278, but didn't score a run. in the world series against the yankees, he scored 6 times and stole 4 bases without being caught.

lopes' final dodger at bat came in the top of the 9th inning in game 6 of the world series against dave laroche. the dodgers were 3 outs away from winning the series, and the game was in hand, so i imagine there was a desire to just get to the bottom of the 9th. at any rate, lopes struck out on one of laroche's 'la-lob' pitches. lopes finished his dodgers career with 99 home runs and 418 stolen bases, second to only maury wills on the dodgers' all time list.

in 1981, rick monday, for the first time in his career, played no center field.
monday began the season as a left-handed bat off of the bench, but later in the season made a number of starts in right field after pedro guerrero moved to third base to cover for the penguin after his late-season beaning mentioned above - remember, reggie smith had a badly injured shoulder and couldn't play in the field (more on that later).  six of his 11 home runs came at the expense of the reds (including two in one game off of tom seaver), and only one was hit as a pinch hitter.  it was a big one, though, as it was a tenth-inning walk-off job off of tug mcgraw. 

monday did hit another big home run in 1981, as we all know.  it came in the decisive game 5 of the nlcs off of expos' ace steve rogers, breaking a 1-1 tie in the top of the 9th inning.  monday continued to be the dodgers' primary right fielder in the world series, playing in 5 of the 6 games (and starting 4 of them) and hitting .231.  i previously posted about the beauty of monday's 1981 topps card here.

bill russell had a tough year in 1981 as he hit just .233 with no home runs and an ops of .567. in the postseason, he did better, hitting .250 in the nlds, .313 in the nlcs, and .240 in the world series. he does get the all-star banner on his card, however, even though it's a pretty lame photo of him in front of a blue tarp.
since russell is the last member of the infield to be featured in this post, i will note that in their final game together - game 6 of the world series - the infield of garvey cey russell and lopes were placed 1 (lopes), 2 (russell), 3 (garvey) and 4 (cey) in the batting order. they went a combined 6 for 15 in the game, with 4 runs scored, 2 rbi, 2 stolen bases and a sacrifice. i suppose that if the infield were going to disband, going out like that, with a world series championship, would be the best way to go.

as mentioned up above, reggie smith was still fighting his way back from that serious shoulder injury he suffered in 1980.   he gets the fourth and final all-star banner for the blue and is standing in front of the same tarp as bill russell. 
in fact, smith didn't appear in the field until the middle of september (his 32nd game and the team's 92nd) when he subbed in at first base for garvey in the second inning.  smith made one other fielding appearance, also at first base, in the last game of the season again as a replacement for the garv.  otherwise, smith was solely a pinch hitter in 1981, racking up 39 such appearances and going 6 for 31 with a double, home run and 8 rbi in that role.  smith went on to make five appearances in the postseason, all as a pinch hitter.  he was 2 for 4 with a sacrifice fly overall, and 1 for 2 in the world series.  smith's tenure as a dodger came to a close a couple of weeks after the fall classic ended, as he was granted free agency and ultimately signed with the giants.

steve yeager was starting to see the end of the line in 1981, and he actually asked the team to trade him that year.
that's because during the 1981 regular season, yeager was used in a platoon role with rookie catcher mike scioscia, playing primarily against left-handed starters.  as such, yeager appeared in 40 games and started behind the plate just 23 times, and he hit just .209 with 3 homers and 7 rbi in that limited playing time.  then came the postseason.

yeager made one start in two nlds appearances, and was used as a pinch hitter in just one game of the nlcs, but with the yankees featuring southpaws tommy john, ron guidry, rudy may, and dave righetti, yeager saw plenty of action in the world series.  good thing, too, as he hit two home runs, including the game 5 game-winner, and claimed one-third of the series mvp trophy.

i need to also mention that two the 1978 topps dodgers that were not included in either the 1981 topps flagship or traded sets were still active in 1980, so you'll see vic davalillo and manny mota cards that should have been sometime down the road.  i might even do a jerry grote card for the traded set, as he came out of a two-year hiatus to return to the big leagues in 1981. 

19/27 members of the 1978 topps dodgers were featured by topps in 1981

total appearances:

baker 11 (1971-1981)
burke 2 (1978-1979)
cey 10 (1972-1981)
davalillo 14 (1963-1974, 1978-1979)
forster 10 (1972-1981)
garman 8 (1971-1973, 1975-1979)
garvey 11 (1971-1981)
goodson 6 (1973-1978)
grote 15 (1964-1976, 1978-1979)
hooton 10 (1972-1981)
hough 10 (1972-1981)
john 18 (1964-1981)
lacy 9 (1973-1981)
lasorda 8 (1954, 1973-1974, 1977-1981)
lopes 9 (1973-1981)
martinez 9 (1971-1976, 1978-1980)
monday 15 (1967-1981)
mota 18 (1963-1980)
oates 10 (1972-1981)
rau 9 (1973-1981)
rautzhan 2 (1978-1979)
rhoden 7 (1975-1981)
russell 12 (1970-1981)
smith 15 (1967-1981)
sosa 8 (1974-1981)
sutton 16 (1966-1981)
yeager 9 (1973-1981)

teams represented so far:  19 (dodgers, indians, colt .45's, pirates, white sox, astros, mets, a's, red sox, angels, expos, cardinals, braves, cubs, orioles, giants, phillies, yankees, rangers)

1 comment:

Matthew R said...

I remember seeing that Monday HR in English class. There were only two of us in the class who were rooting for the Expos. :(