06 May 2014

the evolution of the dodger second baseman - beginning with jackie

just two positions left to review in my evolutionary posts.  this one is special to me because i spent most of my playing days at second base, and even though i was a steve garvey fan, i marveled at the dodger lineage at second base.  as a little leaguer, i traced it back from dave lopes to jim lefebvre to jim gilliam to jackie robinson.  i later learned that it wasn't quite that clean, but still.  at some point, it traces back to jackie, which is where i will start.  besides, it gives me a reason to show my 1952 topps jackie robinson card again, now freed from its plastic cage.

jackie robinson (1948-1952)
jackie was named the rookie of the year in 1947 when he was the dodgers' first baseman.  in 1948, brooklyn traded their second baseman, eddie stanky, to boston and gil hodges took over at first with jackie moving to second.  he stayed there for five seasons, winning the mvp award in 1949 and leading the league with a .342 average as well.

jim gilliam (1953-1957)
like jackie, gilliam was named the rookie of the year, but he won the award as the dodgers' second baseman in 1953.  that's his 1954 topps card - i unfortunately don't have a copy of his 1953 topps issue.  although gilliam also played some outfield in 1955 and 1956, he was the team's primary second baseman through 1957.  he finished fifth in the league mvp voting in 1956, when he hit .300 and helped the dodgers return to the world series.

charlie neal (1958-1961)
gilliam moved to the outfield in 1958 as the dodgers moved west, and so charlie neal moved from short to second.  he remained the dodgers' second baseman until he was traded to the mets following the 1961 season.  he made two all-star teams for the dodgers in his tenure as their second baseman, including the 1960 team as noted on his 1960 topps all-star card, and he also won the gold glove at the position in 1959.

jim gilliam (1962-1963)
with neal in new york, jim gilliam returned to the position in 1962, which is the year that the bell brand card shown above was issued.  he finished 6th in the mvp voting in 1963 as the team's second baseman, but once the world series came along, he moved to third base and dick tracewski played second in the dodgers' four game sweep of the yankees.

nate oliver (1964)
oliver was a second year player in 1964 when he hit .243 in 99 games and played more second base than any other dodger.  tracewski and gilliam also spent time at the position that season, but oliver started 97 contests there.  in 1965, however, he played second in only 2 games at the big league level.

jim lefebvre (1965-1966)
another dodger second baseman to win the rookie of the year award, lefebvre (shown on his 1965 topps rookie card) hit .250 with 12 homers en route to the honor.  he did better in 1966, hitting 24 homers with a .274 batting average while being named to the all-star team for the only time in his career.  he also began playing some third base, and spent most of the 1967 season at the hot corner.

ron hunt (1967)
hunt was acquired by the dodgers after the 1966 season from the mets in the tommy davis trade.  topps was abel to get him into the 1967 set as seen above, although the card is a bit of a high number (525).  he spent the 1967 season in los angeles before being traded to the giants prior to the 1968 campaign.  during his stint with the dodgers, hunt started 89 games at second base batting .263 while hitting 3 homers and driving in 33 runs.

paul popovich (1968)
with hunt going to the giants, the dodgers turned to popovich, an offseason acquisition from the cubs, to man second base in 1968.  his 1968 topps card there identifies him as an infielder, and he lived up to that billing by playing second, short, and third in '68.  still, his 80 starts at second base is what qualifies him for a spot in the team's evolutionary chain.  he hit only .232 on the season, and was traded to the expos early in the 1969 season, meaning that the merry-go-round of dodger second basemen would continue...

1 comment:

Fuji said...

I enjoy these kinds of posts, because there so much stuff I don't know about baseball. Until today, I never knew that Hunt played in LA. I also learned that we both were second basemen in little league. Look forward to reading the continuation.