17 November 2010

the continuing evolution of the 1978 topps dodgers - 1966 version

a couple of 1978 topps dodgers debuted in 1966, but only one new player got a topps cards in 1966 to join the 4 who had appeared in 1965.  it also happens to be the first dodger player of our group (remember, we featured tommy lasorda's 1954 card in the first installment of this series).

don sutton debuted as a member of the dodgers' starting rotation for the defending world champs. here he is featured on his rookie card (along with bill singer)
his first start was against the astros on april 14, 1966, and although he gave up a run in the first inning (future teammate jimmy wynn hit a sac fly) he did strike out the first batter of his career, none other than verbal-diarrheaist joe morgan. he also went 2 for 3 at the plate that day. sutton won the first game of his career against those same astros 4 days later. he wound up 12-12 on the season, with a 2.99 era, 6 complete games and 2 shutouts in 35 starts.

vic davalillo becomes the first of the 1978 topps dodgers to be featured on two cards in a set thanks to his .301 batting average in 1965.
after his breakout season in 1965, vic davalillo stumbled a bit in 1966.

he played in just 121 games, and hit .250. still the indians primary centerfielder, he maintained a high fielding percentage (.986) but managed to hit just 3 homeruns. one of those homeruns was his first career pinch hit homer, off of former dodger phil ortega.

jerry grote joined the mets in 1966 after a postseason trade.
he enjoyed his best season to date, playing in 120 games as the mets' primary catcher. he hit .237 with 3 homeruns and 31 rbi. two of those homeruns were against bob buhl of the phillies, though they weren't hit in the same game. behind the plate, grote threw out 40% of the base runners who attempted to steal against him. grote also made a couple of appearances at third base for the mets, the first time in his career he had shed the tools of ignorance.

tommy john spent his second year in chicago in 1966, and it was much like the first.
he again won 14 games, this time against 11 losses. he lowered his era to 2.62, good for 5th best in the american league. he had 10 complete games, tied for the league lead with 5 shutouts, and pitched 223 innings. his best game of the season was a 3-hit shutout against the yankees, in yankee stadium, in which he walked none and struck out 6.

manny mota spent his fourth year in pittsburgh, once again patrolling the outfield for the pirates in 1966.
he still played primarily center field, but spent an increased amount of time in left along with some right field. he even forayed into the infield for a few appearances at third base. at the plate, he hit .332 with an ops of .855 in 116 games. mota's limited playing time meant that he did not qualify for the batting crown, which was won with a .316 average by triple crown winner and future dodger teammate frank robinson. as a pinch hitter in 1966, mota hit .385 with 10 hits in 26 at bats.

so, those were the 1978 topps dodgers in 1966.

here's the tally so far:

5/27 players featured by topps in 1966

total appearances:

davalillo 4 (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966)
grote 3 (1964, 1965, 1966)
john 3 (1964, 1965, 1966)
lasorda 1 (1954)
mota 4 (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966)
sutton 1 (1966)

teams represented so far:

7 (dodgers, indians, colt .45's, pirates, white sox, astros, mets)

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