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.
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.
steve garvey played in all 110 dodger games in 1981, but his batting average dropped to .283 and his ops fell to .732.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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)