13 September 2013

the 1978 topps dodgers in 1985, part one

there weren't too many dodgers who were dodgers in the 1978 topps set that were still dodgers in 1985.  in fact, of the four who were shown wearing dodger blue in the set, only three were still wearing the uniform during the season.

first up, tommy lasorda
lasorda guided the dodgers to 95 wins and another nl west title in 1985.  and then he decided to pitch to jack clark with first base open.  the dodgers won the first two games of the nlcs against the cardinals, then lost the next three (including game 5 on ozzie smith's walk off left-handed home run).  then, with the dodgers one out away from tying the series at three games apiece, clark launched a go-ahead three run home run off of tom niedenfuer to seal the pennant for st. louis.  crushing.

bill russell
russell appeared in almost as many games as an outfielder (21) as he did as a shortstop (23) in 1985.  overall, he saw action in 76 games and hit .260.  he was not on the postseason roster, or if he was, he did not make an appearance in the nlcs.

steve yeager
yeager appeared in even fewer games than russell (53), with 48 of those coming with some time spent behind the plate.  offensively, yeager didn't do much - he hit only .207 without a home run and with just 9 rbi - but defensively, he still packed a punch, throwing out 52% (23 of 44) of the baserunners who tried to steal against him.  yeager's final appearance as a dodger came in game 4 of the nlcs when he pinch hit for mike scioscia and stayed in the game as the catcher.  yeager was traded to seattle during the offseason.

burt hooton
hooton was featured in the set as a dodger, but he had signed a free agent deal with the rangers.  so, here is his 1985 topps traded card
hooton started the season in the bullpen, but moved to the rotation in mid-may.  all of his decisions - 5 wins and 8 losses - came as a starter even though he had 9 appearances as a reliever, including his final two big league appearances.  in his final major league start, hooton squared off against old nl west rival, tom seaver who was pitching for the white sox.  neither man figured in the decision.

let's stick with the other pitchers who were still around in 1985.  

with the rangers, hooton was reunited with former teammate charlie hough
hough had a pretty typical season for him as a starter.  he was 14-16 over 34 starts with 14 complete games.  his 3.31 era was the 8th best in the american league, and he threw a pair of two-hitters.  his most interesting start, however, might have been his first assignment of the season.  he was pulled after 6 innings even though he had not allowed a hit.  he had, however, given up two runs (one earned) thanks to 8 walks - four of which were consecutive (with two outs in the sixth) and gave the orioles their first run.  there were no wild pitches, although a passed ball accounted for the second (unearned) baltimore run.

terry forster
forster was 2-3 with a 2.28 era and a single save in 46 games for the braves.  but enough about his pitching - let's talk hitting.  forster entered the season with a career batting average of .419.  sadly, he was 0 for 4 in 1985, dropping his average to .397.

tommy john
john split the 1985 season between the angels and the a's.  with california, he was used as both a starter and reliever, and had a 2-4 record in 12 appearances when he was traded to oakland near the end of july.  reunited with former teammate don sutton (more on that later) the a's used john exclusively as a starter, and he had a couple of pretty good ones to go along with a few clunkers.  he finished the season with a 4-10 record overall.  for some reason, john was not included in the 1985 traded set.

rick rhoden
rhoden was 10-15 for the pirates in 1985.  his era jumped a run and a half to 4.47, and his batting average plummeted from .333 in 1984 to .189.  he still won his second silver slugger though.

don sutton
sutton got two cards as a brewer in 1985 - his base (shown above) and a record breaker
over the 19 seasons of sutton's career to that point, he had never had fewer than 100 strikeouts.  he surpassed that mark again in 1985 (barely) with 107 total strikeouts between two teams.  none were as a brewer, however, as sutton was traded to the a's prior to the start of the season.  here's his 1985 topps traded card
as a member of the athletics, sutton put together a 13-8 record in 29 starts.  he threw a 4-hit shutout in june, and was 4-1 with 5 quality starts in august which may have prompted a trade with the angels.  sutton was dealt to california in early september with the angels trying to catch the kansas city royals.  they won sutton's first two starts, but lost each of his final three (including a critical head-to-head matchup with kc) and finished one game behind the eventual world champions in the al west.  unfortunately, there was no card of sutton as an angel in the traded set.

i'll finish up the evolution with the non-dodger position players in another post.  stay tuned.

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