20 February 2013

follow the leader

for a while back around 1979 and 1980, steve garvey and ron cey were running just about neck and neck in the bid to become the los angeles dodgers' all-time leader in home runs. cey led garvey by four home runs (163 to 159) after the 1979 season, both having passed the previous leader (willie davis) and his mark of 154 home runs during that campaign.  cey got there about a month before garvey, and the first baseman never could catch up to him.  when both players left after the 1982 season (cey by trade, garvey by free agency), the penguin sat atop the leader board with 228 roundtrippers to garvey's second place total of 211.  here's cey's o-pee-chee card from 1977, the year he hit a career high 30 home runs.
cey held on to his title for just about 18 years until eric karros hit his 229th career home run on june 13, 2000.  here is karros' topps card from that year
karros went on to hit 270 home runs as a member of the los angeles dodgers, putting him not only atop the la leader board, but landing him at third place in the all-time franchise history.  he trails only duke snider (389 total as a dodger, 73 in la) and gil hodges (361, 63), and sits above roy campanella (242 all as a brooklyn dodger) with cey rounding out the top 5.  the rest of the franchise leader board sits as follows - garvey in 6th place, followed by carl furillo (192, 18), mike piazza (177), pedro guerrero (171), raul mondesi (163), and shawn green (162) all ahead of davis.  matt kemp (151) is next on the list, which is good for 9th place in la dodger history, and 13th in franchise history.

so what becomes of the la dodger career home run leader in the era of free agency?  starting with cey, he gets dealt to the cubs and gets a card showing him in transition - his 1983 o-pee-chee card.
and, in the case of eric karros, he gets the same thing - although his transition card is a 2003 leaf issue
they each also have full blown cubs cards.  here is cey's 1987 fleer
and this is karros' card from 2003 upper deck sp authentic
cey wound up spending four years in chicago, and hit 84 home runs as a cub, including his lone career inside the park job.  karros was in chicago for just one season, and hit 12 homers, a total that included one of my favorite karros home runs.  do you remember it, too?

on june 7, 2003, the yankees were visiting wrigley field and roger clemens was on the mound looking for career win number 300.  the game was televised, and the cubs had hee seop choi at first base and kerry wood on the mound.  in the fourth inning with the score still 0-0, jason giambi hit an infield pop up that resulted in choi making the catch while colliding with wood and then hitting his head on the ground.  choi left the game on a stretcher, and karros replaced him in the field.  the yankees took the lead the following inning on a solo home run by hideki matsui, and clemens was cruising.  in the 7th inning, however, clemens allowed a one out single to moises alou followed by a walk to sammy sosa.  joe torre replaced clemens with juan acevedo, and karros greeted him with a 3-run home run on acevedo's first pitch to ruin any chance clemens had at the milestone victory.  yes, clemens got his 300th win soon thereafter, but karros made him wait and i for one was thankful.

from chicago, both cey and karros returned to california, although they went to oakland rather than los angeles.  here's cey's 1987 topps traded card
and karros' 2004 topps card
each player finished their careers in oakland, and so hit their final career home runs in the green and gold.  cey hit four home runs as a member of the a's to bring his career total to 316, while karros managed only two homers in oakland to finish his career with 284 long balls.

so, with karros following in his predecessor's footsteps so closely, what does this mean?  matt kemp should break into the dodger franchise top 10 in 2013, and has a good chance to pass pedro and piazza to finish the year fourth on the los angeles leader board with karros' mark certainly attainable.  does that mean he will wind up in cubs and a's apparel towards the end of the decade?  i hope not, but the precedent has been set!

1 comment:

Fuji said...

Great post. I learned a bunch of stuff today:

#1. Didn't realize Piazza was so far down the all-time LA Dodgers home run list. I would have guessed he was the top dog or at least top 3.

#2. I also would have guessed that Shawn Green hit more too. Seemed like he hit a home run in every other game against the Giants and Padres.

#3. Never heard the "Karros delayed Clemens" story until now. BTW... that's awesome!

#4. I recall Cey played in Oakland, but didn't realize he ended his career there.

#5. Karros played in Oakland? Wait... that's where he wrapped up his career too?

I definitely need to brush up on my baseball.