07 November 2013

the 1978 topps dodgers in 1987 - the four final tributes

four of the 1978 topps dodgers played their final big league games in 1986, but were still featured by topps in the 1987 set.  for that, i am grateful, because it means that we get true final tributes of bill russell, dusty baker, terry forster, and steve yeager.

here's the dean of the dodgers, bill russell, who was released by the team in november of 1986
with his career stats on the back
there are only 38 shortstops in the history of the game who have played more games at that position than russell did, and when he retired, there were only 23.  of course, one was pee wee reese, so russell isn't even the franchise leader in games played at short.  still, he ranks pretty highly in a number of dodger franchise career categories, including games played (second only to zack wheat), defensive war (second only to pee wee), at bats (fourth behind wheat, reese, and willie davis), and hits (sixth behind wheat, reese, davis,   duke snider, and steve garvey).

fleer, but not donruss, also produced a card for russell in 1987
this is the first time since 1971 that the position designation on russell's card said 'outfield' only.
the fleer back includes most, but not all, of his minor league stats. topps still gets my vote for best final tribute, though.  russell immediately joined the dodger coaching staff, replacing monty basgall as the infield coach and eventually replacing tommy lasorda as manager.  unfortunately, since topps didn't make cards for managers in the late 1990's, 1987 was the last time russell appeared in the flagship (or traded) set.

now here's dusty baker
baker is likely best remembered now as a manager, but i think of him as a dodger even though he finished his career in the bay area.  he became a free agent after the 1986 season ended, but didn't sign on with any team.  was he a victim of the collusion between owners that offseason?  i don't know.  here are his career totals
he finished just shy of 2000 hits and 250 home runs, but that's not a bad career at all.  dusty didn't play for the dodgers long enough to crack their franchise leader boards for the most part, but he does rank 7th overall in sacrifice flies.

like russell, fleer (but not donruss) issued a card of baker as well 
and, like russell, not all of baker's minor league stats make the back
unlike russell, however, baker will return to this evolution series in a few 'years'

on to terry forster
forster finished his big league career with the al west champion angels in 1986, but continued to pitch in 1987 after signing a free agent deal with the twins in june of that year.  unfortunately, forster never got the call from aaa, and so the 1987 card serves as his final tribute.  here are his career totals
the biggest stat missing, of course, is his .397 career batting average.  forster holds the distinction of having the most career hits (31) among those players with a higher career batting average than ty cobb's .366.

like russell and baker, forster also got a card from fleer (but not donruss)
his stats on the back are only missing his minor league stints in 1986 and 1987 (obviously).
forster's 127 career saves currently has him 99th on the all-time list, but he might fall out of the top 100 in 2014 if jim johnson has a decent year and if carlos marmol lands a closing gig somewhere.  that second one is a pretty big if, i know.

the last of the four to bow out in true final tribute style in 1987 is steve yeager
how strange to see yeager in mariner gear, even after he first appeared that way in the 1986 topps traded set.  his one year with seattle seems to be a blemish on the otherwise orderly back of the card
yeager filed for free agency after the 1986 season ended, but was not signed by any team.  again, collusion?  or just the end of the road for a 38-year old catcher?

like the other three players in this post, fleer was the only other card company to issue a card for yeager in 1987
i think there is just one year of minor league stats (1967) missing from the back of yeager's fleer card.  yeager coached in the dodgers' minor league system in the 1990's and 2000's (and managed in the independent leagues as well) but never cracked the big league coaching staff until recently.  he is currently the catcher coach for the big league squad.  makes sense.

now for the evolutionary wrap up.  there were 13/27 members of the 1978 topps dodgers featured by topps in 1987. here's the tally of appearances to date:

baker 17 (1971-1987)
burke 2 (1978-1979)
cey 16 (1972-1987)
davalillo 14 (1963-1974, 1978-1979)
forster 16 (1972-1987)
garman 8 (1971-1973, 1975-1979)
garvey 17 (1971-1987)
goodson 6 (1973-1978)
grote 15 (1964-1976, 1978-1979)
hooton 15 (1972-1986)
hough 16 (1972-1987)
john 24 (1964-1987)
lacy 15 (1973-1987)
lasorda 13 (1954, 1973-1974, 1977-1981, 1983-1987)
lopes 15 (1973-1987)
martinez 9 (1971-1976, 1978-1980)
monday 18 (1967-1984)
mota 18 (1963-1980)
oates 10 (1972-1981)
rau 9 (1973-1981)
rautzhan 2 (1978-1979)
rhoden 13 (1975-1987)
russell 18 (1970-1987)
smith 17 (1967-1983)
sosa 10 (1974-1984)
sutton 22 (1966-1987)
yeager 15 (1973-1987)

teams represented so far: 23 (dodgers, indians, colt .45's, pirates, white sox, astros, mets, a's, red sox, angels, expos, cardinals, braves, cubs, orioles, giants, phillies, yankees, rangers, tigers, padres, brewers, mariners)

i can't think of any cards topps failed to make in 1987, so we will go right to 1988 in the next installment of the evolution of the 1978 topps dodgers.  stay tuned....

1 comment:

Matthew R said...

Fleer classified Yeager as a "power hitter?" I can possibly see that for a couple of seasons in the 1970s, but not at the end of his career.