15 January 2013

the 1981 postseason, as it should have been in 1982

who can tell me when topps started putting postseason summary cards in their sets?  there was the mickey mantle/hank aaron world series combo card in the 1958 set, highlighting 'world series batting foes' from the 1957 fall classic, but it wasn't until 1960 that there were cards that recapped the previous season's championship (the dodgers over the white sox, of course).  then, topps ran this subset - sometimes one card for each game, and sometimes one card for each series after the start of divisional play - all the way through the 1978 set, except for 1966.  and guess who played in (and won) the 1965 world series?  the los angeles dodgers, that's right.

the dodgers (and twins) were for some reason denied by topps an appearance on seven or maybe eight glorious cards.  cards that might have featured koufax, drysdale, killebrew, jim kaat, and lou johnson.  topps skipped the subset in 1979 (again penalizing the dodgers) and 1980, before bringing it back for a last hurrah in 1981.  after that, we would wait until 1998 for the return of postseason cards.  that, of course, means that topps ignored two more dodger world championship teams - the 1988 dodgers (who were recognized by fleer and, oddly enough, o-pee-chee) and the 1981 dodgers.

this post is here to right that wrong, so here are the 1982 topps postseason cards that should have been.  first, the world series recap card
there we have the three steves - garvey, yeager, and howe - in the aftermath of the final out in game 6 at yankee stadium.  kenny landreaux has just caught bob watson's fly ball in center field, and a 10-year old kid in california could not have been happier.

but, before we get to the world series, we must revisit the dodgers' triumph in the first divisional series, made possible by the players' strike.  the divisional champs in each 'half' of the season squared off, with the dodgers facing the houston astros.  the dodgers lost the first two games of the five game series, but came back to beat the astros thanks to strong pitching performances by burt hooton, fernando valenzuela, and jerry reuss.  here, reuss celebrates following his game 5 shutout to advance the dodgers to the nlcs against the expos.
that photo comes from the 1982 dodgers police set, and it's a bit frantic.  i found a better photo online, from jerry reuss's flickr account (thank you mr. reuss), but it's in black and white and there was too much to colorize for me to bother.
still, it does include steve garvey, as well as the astros' dave roberts who struck out to end the game (the out was recorded at first base as mike scioscia did not catch the final pitch cleanly).

and so, it was on to montreal to face the expos who had dispatched the phillies, also in five games.  actually, the dodgers and expos split the first two games of the series, played in los angeles.  then, the expos took the first game at home.  the dodgers rallied to win game 4 and force the decisive game 5.  i think we all know what happened next - rick monday took steve rogers deep to break a 1-1 tie in the top of the 9th, and fernando and bobby welch shut down montreal in the bottom of the inning.  welch, in fact, makes an appearance in the first photo i used for the nlcs recap card
but, after a quick reconsideration, i went with a different photo
that's pedro guerrero standing on deck.  i don't think he is employing steve garvey's advice, either.

i had mo sign a copy of this card through hall of fame sports' dodger days in 2010.
i like it very much.

as for the world series, the dodgers dropped the first game against the yankees, who had defeated the brewers and the a's (cards for those series are not shown).  graig nettles made some big plays at third base for the bronx bombers, so he gets the card.
in game 2 then following night, the dodgers were shut out, and goose gossage earned his second save of the series.
the series shifted to los angeles, and in the bottom of the first inning of game 3, ron cey hit a 3-run homer to put the dodgers on top, and he later scored their 5th run of the game as well.  it was his defensive play in the 8th inning, however, that is commemorated on the game 2 card that should have been.
with the dodgers up 5-4, fernando allowed the first two yankee batters to reach on singles.  bobby murcer pinch hit for rudy may, but his sacrifice attempt was popped up, and the penguin dove to record the out.  he then threw to first base to double up larry milbourne.  the next batter grounded out, and the yankee threat was eliminated.

looking to tie the series at two games apiece, the dodgers were down in game 4 6-3 when tommy lasorda sent jay johnstone to the plate in the bottom of the 6th inning.  pinch hitting for tom niedenfuer, johnstone hit a two-run home run to bring the dodgers to within a run of the yankees.  his curtain call makes the front of the game 4 card.
the dodgers tied the score later in the inning and went on to win the game 8-7.  many consider johnstone's home run to have been the turning point of the series.

in game 5, the dodgers turned to jerry reuss, and he did not disappoint.
he allowed only a second inning run and pitched a complete game, 5-hitter.  losing pitcher ron guidry allowed only 4 hits over 7 innings, but two of those hits were the back-to-back home runs that pedro guerrero and steve yeager hit in the bottom of the 7th to give the dodgers the lead.

it was all over but the shouting as the teams returned to new york for game 6.  the score was tied 1-1 until the 5th inning, when cey drove in davey lopes with a two-out single.
the dodgers went on to score two more runs in the inning, and the game was pretty much over, and the three steve party shown up top was an inevitability.

because of the oddity of it all, i also made a card featuring the co-mvp's of the series - guerrero, yeager, and cey.
it's a nice photo - in fact, it's used on yeager's 2004 upper deck legends timeless teams 1981 card.  the world series photos all came from sports illustrated, and the mvp photo was found online.  as was this last one.  

i'll end the post by noting (again) that steve garvey was originally told that he - not yeager - was one of the mvp's.  here's a screen capture of garvey with petey and the penguin (as well as commissioner bowie kuhn and announcer bob uecker) before someone told him of the mistake.
as for the cards, i didn't bother with backs - i think i would have gone with the game box scores and composite stats like the topps subsets did prevously - but i might get around to it someday.  until then, i'm just glad that these cards that should have been are finally seeing the light of day.

here's to the team of my youth, even if topps, donruss and fleer all ignored their 1981 triumph in 1982.

1 comment:

night owl said...

Great stuff!

See what you missed out on Topps?