10 September 2014

the evolution of the dodgers' first baseman, part one

it is well known that jackie robinson began his major league career as the dodgers' first baseman in 1947.  unfortunately, i do not own a 1947 bond bread card of jackie's, nor do i own a 1948 leaf card to show in this space.  with that being the case, i'll start the evolution of the dodgers' first baseman with the guy who replaced jackie at first in 1948, gil hodges. this is not a departure from the norm, using a fantastic 1952 bowman card to kick off an evolution post (this is a baseball card blog and i don't have many pre-1950's cards in my collection), but it sure would have been nice to see that leaf card of jackie up top.  maybe someday.

gil hodges (1948-1959)
yes, hodges' 1952 bowman card is fantastic.  i enjoy having it in my collection.  the dodgers enjoyed having hodges' bat in their lineup following his conversion from catcher to first baseman in 1948.  he hit a total of 361 home runs for the dodgers, including 344 during the 12-year span in which he was the team's primary first baseman.  the club also won two world championships (and 6 pennants) with him at first.

norm larker (1960-1961)
norm!  larker (shown on his 1961 topps card) took over for hodges in 1960 and promptly went out and finished second in the national league batting race, .002 behind dick groat and .004 ahead of willie mays.  he was an all-star that year, but came back to earth in 1961, hitting .270 in just 95 games.  he was drafted by the colt .45's in the expansion draft prior to the 1962 season, and he became the very first first baseman in houston's history.  if there were an astros blogger out there doing this same sort of post, larker would be at the very start.

ron fairly (1962-1964)
with larker gone, fairly moved to first from the outfield.  yes, i am showing his 1965 topps card even though he was back in the outfield when the 1965 season rolled around.  before that, however, he enjoyed three solid seasons as the dodger first baseman, averaging 12 homers and 74 rbi.  he was playing more outfield by the end of the '63 season, making way for bill skowron.  as a result, he made only late-inning appearances during the 1963 world series.

wes parker (1965-1972)
skowron left the dodgers after one season, and fairly moved back to the outfield with wes parker taking over at first.  he became part of the team's all switch hitting infield (with jim lefebvre, jim gilliam, and maury wills) and helped the dodgers win the world series against the twins.  parker also won gold gloves in 6 of his 8 seasons spent playing primarily at first (including 1971 - the year of the topps card shown above).  in 1970, he led the national league with 47 doubles, but he was always better known for his skill with the leather, compiling a career .996 fielding percentage as a first baseman.  he retired following the 1972 season at the age of 32.  parker is the only non-hall of famer on rawlings' all-time gold glove team.

bill buckner (1973)
buckner's 1974 topps card lists him as a first baseman because he played in 93 games (83 starts) at the position in 1973.  he hit .275 and played in 140 games overall that year, and was moved back to the outfield in 1974, where he was seen climbing the wall in atlanta trying to get to hank aaron's 715th career home run.

steve garvey (1974-1982)
there aren't a lot of steve garvey cards from his playing days that i haven't shown on the blog yet, but that 1980 kellogg's card is one of them.  the garv took over the first baseman's job and wound up winning the all-star game and national league mvp awards in 1974.  he held on to the job until he left the club as a free agent following the 1982 season, amassing 8 consecutive all-star starts, 4 gold gloves, 4 pennants, and a world series championship during that 9-year span.

greg brock (1983-1986)
brock, shown on his 1986 o-pee-chee card, was a triple-a phenom who had the misfortune of being asked to replace garvey in the dodgers' lineup and maybe even continue the dodgers' string of rookies of the year (they had owned the award since rick sutcliffe won it in 1979, with steve howe winning in 1980, fernando valenzuela in 1981, and steve sax in 1982).  unfortunately, brock hit just .224 with 20 homers in 146 games in his rookie year, finishing 7th in the 1983 nl rookie of the year balloting.  the dodgers still won the west, however, and brock was 0 for 9 in his first taste of postseason play.  the following season, he hit .225 while playing in only 88 games, but still spent more time at first than anybody else.  in 1985, he helped the dodgers return to the postseason with what may have been his best season with the dodgers - he hit .251 with 21 homers and 66 rbi in 129 games.  he got his only postseason hit of his career that year, a home run in game 2 of the nlcs.  he was hitless in his other 11 at bats of the series.  following another lackluster season, brock was traded to the brewers for a couple of tims - crews and leary.

franklin stubbs (1987-1988)
stubbs had been the dodgers' left fielder in 1986, but moved to first to replace brock in 1987.  he had a 'brock-ish' season, however, hitting .233 with 15 homers and 52 rbi in 129 games, 111 of which included some time at first.  in 1988, stubbs appeared in 84 games at first for the dodgers, 54 of which were starts, which was more than mike marshall (54 games, 51 starts) so he gets the nod here for the year that was so improbable.  that's his 1988 score card, by the way.  stubbs started all five games of the '88 world series, hitting .294 with a couple of rbi. interestingly enough, stubbs went to the astros in a trade prior to the 1990 season, but signed with the brewers as a free agent for the 1991 campaign wherein he replaced greg brock as the first baseman for the brew crew.

eddie murray (1989-1991)
the dodgers were likely tired of a lack of production from the first base position since garvey's departure, so they traded for hometown guy eddie murray following their world series triumph over the a's.  steady eddie showed up in 1989 (i was excited to see him in dodger blue on his 1989 upper deck card shown above) and played in 160 games (159 at first) but hit only .247.  he did drive in 88 runs, however, and in 1990 he led all of major league baseball with a .330 average.  too bad for murray that willie mcgee was hitting .335 when he was dealt from the cardinals to the a's (mcgee hit only .274 with oakland, dropping his composite average to .324 for the season).  murray left the dodgers after the 1991 season as a free agent, opening the door for a rookie named eric karros to win the job even though the team had traded for todd benzinger just in case.


Mark Hoyle said...

Parker drove in over 100 runs in 1970 with only 10 homeruns

BobWalkthePlank said...

Cool post!