Friday, February 06, 2009


I've got a dozen more of these to do and pitchers and catchers are already booking their flights.

I can't stop now.
Let's keep going.

Today we look at the Dodgers... both in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles.

For 15 years I lived in the New York where the Dodger's move from Brooklyn still is treated as a tragedy. It was the moment the heart of Brooklyn was ripped out and New York has been dealing with this grief to the point where they have built a park for the Mets that resembles Ebbets Field.

Yet now I live in Los Angeles and last year was the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers arrival in L.A. And here it's treated as a great event and something to celebrate.

Ironically the most iconic player of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, was from Pasadena, California... 10 miles from Dodger Stadium.

And the most iconic player of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sandy Koufax, was from Brooklyn.

Go figure.

I knew there was going to be a lot of talent on the home grown and acquired team...
What I did not expect is the complete overload of terrific home grown pitchers and catchers I had to wade through.

I know I am going to upset SOMEONE, so I better just move forward.

As always the rules of the rosters can be found here.



There were many great catchers to choose from but I am sure nobody can find fault with starting Campy. He was a teenage star in the Negro Leagues who came up with the Dodgers a year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Along the way he won the NL MVP 3 times.

He set a home run record for catchers that was broken by Todd Hundley. (Funny, Hundley never was a big home run hitter before or after his 1996 season. I wonder why.)

And if he didn't get into that car accident, he might have eventually become the manager of the Dodgers. In the minor leagues he took over for an ejected Walter Alston. He was an acting manager 29 years before Frank Robinson became the manager of the Indians.

Plus "Roy Campanella Night" in the coliseum was the first Dodger highlight in L.A.


Oh I am prepared for the Gil Hodges fans who will give me grief for starting Garvey over their guy.
From 1974 to 1981, Garvey sure looked like he was going to the Hall of Fame.

He had an MVP and would eventually win 2 NLCS MVPs.
He hit 4 homers in the 4 game 1978 NLCS including one in the clincher and finished with a 1.611 OPS for the series.

He won 4 Gold Gloves, wals always among the batting leaders, consistently drove in 100 runs.
And lest we forget he played 1207 straight games and looked like he was going to break Gehrig's streak.

You almost wonder where he found the time to have all of those kids.


When writing about Jackie Robinson and his impact on the game, there is a danger of just talking about social justice. Yes it was social justice... yes it kick started the Civil Rights movement... yes it made many people rethink their thoughts on race.


Do you know what else?

He was a great PLAYER.

He made baseball player not just with his courage, but also his bat, his arm and his legs.
Let's not forget he was a .311 lifetime hitter (or consistently in the top 10 of OPS for you Sabermetric types.)
He would always be among the stolen base leaders. He had a flair for the dramatic and helped spark the Dodgers to 6 pennants (and they lost the 1950 and 1951 pennants despite his late season dramatics.)

This was no charity case. America is better because of Jackie? Sure. But so is baseball.


Sometimes when I find myself writing these lists, there is a player who is so great and so much a part of a team's lore that I overlook them.
I was trying to get cute and seeing if I should put Bill Russell or maybe squeeze Junior Gilliam in this spot.

And then I realized "I forgot Maury Wills."
Wills won the NL MVP in 1962 and nearly won it again in 1965.

Wills seemed to inject speed into the National League by himself. When the NL was moving toward the power game, Wills became the first player to steal 50 bases since the 1920s. Then he more than doubled that total with 104 stolen bases in 1962.

How much was he in the other team's head?
The San Francisco grounds crew would make the dirt extra soggy to discourage Wills from stealing bases.

When landscaping is added to a strategy to beat a player, you KNOW that is an impact player!!!


Ron Cey was a 6 time All Star, he hit the go ahead single in the clinching Game 6 of the 1981 World Series and was named Co-MVP of the Series.

Cey was The Penguin. Anytime your nickname is also one of Batman's arch enemies then you sir have a cool nickname.

(There has yet to be a ballplayer knows as The Riddler.)


A hero of the dead ball era and the first two Brooklyn pennants, he holds the franchise records for hits, games played, at bats, total bases, doubles, triples, second in runs, third in RBI, and batted .317 over his career.

He also led the franchise is passive aggressiveness as he secretly campaigned for the managing job over Wilbert Robinson. He got the job but didn't fare well.

He actually never played for the Dodgers. The team was called the Superbas when he made his debut and were renamed the Robins. The Dodgers are a better name.


There are some people who think that Duke Snider should not be included in the Willie, Mickey and The Duke part of the "Talking Baseball" song.

I hate people who think like that.

First of all Duke Snider was a Hall of Famer, finished 6 times in the top 10 for the MVP, hit 40 homers five straight seasons (back when that meant something), twice led the league in OPS and hit 4 homers in the 1955 World Series.

Second, they needed a third name in that song. There were three teams. Was he supposed to say "Willie, Mickey and Andy Pafko?"

Thirdly, if the argument was Snider wasn't as good as Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays, then we have some tough standards. That's like saying a movie sucks because t wasn't as good as The Godfather and Citizen Kane.


For anyone who hates the Players Union, and I sometimes grind my teeth when I think of Don Fehr, remember why the exist in the first place. Take the case of Carl Furillo.

He was named to multiple All Star teams with the Dodgers. He got points in the MVP vote 8 times, including 2 top ten finishes.
He won a batting title. He started for seven pennant winners. He had such a terrifying arm that runners would never go from first to third on him. He threw a runner out at first from right field. His two out infield single clinched the first California pennant in 1959.

He tore a calf in 1960. He was then cut.
He was short of the required time to collect a pension by one season.
No other team would sign him.

By the 1970s he was an elevator installer and eventually died still bitter about his time in baseball.
Today he'd be a millionaire many times over and given standing ovations at Dodger games.

The Reading Rifle deserved better.


Boy oh boy is the Gil Hodges Hall of Fame debate a tough one.
He didn't reach any big magic career numbers, only once was a top 10 MVP candidate and his greatness was condensed into a six year span.

But during those six years he was a terror at the plate, thumping 30 to 40 homers a year and along with Jackie, Pee Wee, Campy, Duke and Furillo created one of the greatest middle of the lineup in baseball history.

If he didn't die while managing the Mets and won maybe another World Series in Queens, then I think the combination of playing and managing success would have put him in.



For those of you who have iTunes, check out MLB TV under TV Shows. You can watch entire broadcasts of classic ball games. Recently I watched the clinching game of the 1965 World Series and it was amazing for me.

I had never seen Sandy Koufax pitch live and I only saw him on highlight clips.
To see him throw and the rhythm of how he pitches... and it is amazing to see one of the greatest pitchers ever work.

I'll never see Cy Young or Christy Matthewson or Walter Johnson or Satchel Paige throw in their prime.
But for people my age, watch that game and see the master at work.


The Van Nuys High School baseball team had two players who became well known.
One was a baseball player who did his best to act.

The other was an actor who wanted to be a baseball player.

Drysdale was the ballplayer. As a pitcher was as fierce a competitor on the mound as you could imagine. The 1962 Cy Young Award winner, he led the league in strikeouts three times. With Sandy Koufax as the ace, he was possibly the best #2 starter of all time. And while Koufax wouldn't hit batters, Drysdale more than made up for him.

And he would appear on TV all the time. He was an announcer and talk show host. Of course he talked Greg Brady out of pitching. He was on Leave it To Beaver and the Rifleman.

His high school teammate was Robert Redford.
I wonder what Drysdale thought of The Natural.


A few of my friends have a borderline psychotic obsession with Don Sutton.
More specifically his white guy afro that he sported for far too long (not to mention his white guy Jeri Curls he sported while announcing for the Atlanta Braves.)

He was a 324 game winner and is seventh all time in strikeouts in his Hall of Fame career.
Should his crazy hair over shadow that?

They made sure his hair was accurate on the Hall of Fame plaque.


In the middle of September of 1980, with the Dodgers and Astros going neck and neck for the NL West title, a chubby left hander from Mexico made his debut. He wound up pitching 10 games out of the pen and had an ERA of 0.00.

He won two games out of the pen and logged 2 shut out innings on the final day of the season as the Dodgers tied the Astros forcing a one game playoff.

It was a nice preview for what would happen the next season. Fernando-mania took over LA in 1981 as he became the first and so far only rookie to win the Cy Young Award. He threw 9 innings his first 8 starts... going 8-0 in the process. He threw 8 shutouts and threw a complete game in the World Series.

In his career he had three more top 5 finishes for the Cy Young, won 20 games in 1986, recorded a save to clinch the 1988 Division, went 5-1 in the post season with a sub 2.00 ERA and threw a no hitter... and to this day is the God of the Mexican Dodger fans.

Maybe the Dodgers should have called him up earlier in 1980.


There are a LOT of Dodger pitchers to pick from here, but Newk needs to be in this rotation.
He was a star for the Negro Leagues and arrived in Brooklyn two years after Jackie Robinson. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1949. He won the NL MVP and Cy Young in 1956. In case you are wondering how many other people have won all three of those awards, let me help you out.

He's the only one.

He won 20 three times (and 19 once). He would have had bigger career numbers but he pitched his early twenties in the Negro Leagues and lost two seasons while serving in Korea.

I was surprised that he wasn't in the Hall of Fame. He might not be in Cooperstown, but he's on the Sully Baseball list.
(Granted that isn't much of a consolation, but it is the best I can do.)



Sherry's rookie year he found himself playing in the 1959 World Series, the first one ever played in California.
In Game 2, with the Dodgers down 0-1 in the series, Sherry was brought into the 7th inning to preserve a 4-2 lead. He finished the game and got the save.

In game 3, he pitched the final 2 innings, working out of a 2 on, nobody out jam in the 8th. His second save made the series 2-1, Dodgers.

In game 4 the very next day he pitched a scoreless 8th with the score tied and got the win with Gil Hodges hit the game winning homer.

And in the game 6 clincher, Johnny Podres couldn't make it out of the 4th... and Sherry came in and pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings to clinch the game and the World Series.

In the end he went 2-0 with 2 saves and a 0.71 ERA over 12 2/3 innings. He was the first reliever ever to be named the World Series MVP.

There were no set up men nor specialists nor bullpen by committee for Sherry.
He also went 2 for 4 as a hitter in the series.
It was a good series for him.


A knuckle ball throwing reliever! I wonder why more people don't try this.
Oh yeah, because knuckleballs are hard as hell to catch and if it doesn't knuckle properly, you are basically throwing a pumpkin up to the plate.

But it is a cool idea. You spend the whole day timing a pitcher and then someone throws butterflies to the plate and screws your swing up.

Hough won 12 and saved 18 while throwing 142 2/3 innings, all in relief, in 1986.
He saved 22 in 1977. He served up Reggie Jackson's last homer in the 1977 World Series... but there is no shame in that!


Charlie Dressen had two choices in the 9th inning of the final playoff game to face Bobby Thomson.
He could have gone with Clem Labine or with Ralph Branca. He chose Branca who had already let up a game winning homer to Thomson in the first game.

When Thomson hit "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" I wonder if Dressen thought "Man, I should have gone with Labine.

Labine would play for four Dodger pennant winners, getting a save and a win in the 1955 World Series, the year he won 13 games, saved 11 and threw 144 1/3 innings almost all out of the pen.

He wound up with three World Series rings, so don't feel TOO bad about his sitting in the bullpen that day in 1951.


I almost put Eric Gagne here... but he would be here based on one season which we now know why he suddenly became so dominant.
So basically I had to choose between steroids or cocaine.

The late Steve Howe is so associated with cocaine scandals and a career interrupted and then cut short by his own addictions, that it is easy to forget how good he was.

The 1980 Rookie of the year wasn't a strikeout artists... he just kept the runs off the board. He got the greatest highlight a reliever could imagine: He clinched the World Series on the road at Yankee Stadium.

But then came the drug suspensions. The first one kept him off the 1983 playoff roster. He would suspended 7 times.
With images of bullpen meltdowns in the 1985 playoffs, who knows how many more pennants the Dodgers would have won with a healthy Howe in the pen?


OK, I'm reaching a little bit here... but not as much as you'd think.
I couldn't write a Dodgers list without honoring Orel Hershiser, with all due respect to Joe Black, Bob Welch, Alejandro Pena, Pedro Martinez and Eric Gagne.

Hershiser basically won a World Series single handedly and had the single greatest season I have ever seen in my life in 1988. Leaving him off the list would have been a travesty.

"That's fine, Sully... but in the bullpen?"

Time to justify that:

1) Hershiser came up as a reliever and was an effective long reliever and spot starter in 1984 before being put in the Bullpen.

2) His jaw dropping 1988 season included him coming out in the 14th inning on May 10th to record a save against the Cubs.

3) The turning point of the 1988 NLCS was the amazing and underrated game 4. Scoscia's homer tied the game, Gibson's homer gave the Dodgers the lead but the Mets loaded the bases and looked like they were going to win the game and take a 3-1 series lead.

Hershiser who pitched wonderfully in games 1 and 3 but had the bullpen blow both games, secretly warmed up with no days rest in the bullpen.

When Tommy Lasorda found out that Hershiser warmed up without telling him, he brought him into the game... 2 outs... bases loaded... to face MVP candidate Kevin McReynolds. He got McReynolds to pop up for the save.

4) Neither Koufax, Drysdale, Sutton, Valenzuela nor Newcombe pitched out of the bullpen enough to merit a position in the bullpen.

I know I'm going to get grief for this one.
I don't care.



Only the greatness of Jackie Robinson kept me from adding Davey Lopes to his fellow Big Blue Wrecking Crew members in the starting line up.

That's no knock on Davey Lopes who was a 4 time All Star, a Gold Glove winner and twice led the league in stolen bases. He was (at the time) rare lead off hitter with power

He stole 4 bases in the 1981 World Series and scored twice in the clinching game 6.


All due respect to Steve Sax, who played such a pivotal role in the 1988 World Championship season... and Bill Russell who should have gone with a nickname so people knew they werent talking about the basketball player... but Gilliam was one of the few stars who excelled for both the Brooklyn and the LA Dodgers. (Snider's star was fading in LA and Koufax and Drysdale didn't become stars until the move.)

Gilliam was the 1953 Rookie of the Year and played in each of the Dodgers first four World Series titles. Gilliam got big hits in the 1955 World Series and always seemed to be in the middle of World Series rallys.

Later became a beloved member of the Dodgers coaching staff and he died in the days between the 1978 NLCS and 1978 World Series.


Davis was one of the premier defensive center fielders in the game. When he retired he was third in the all time games played list at that position, behind only Tris Speaker and Willie Mays. Not bad company.

He was the first player to steal three bases in one World Series game and wound up with two All Star Games appearances and three Gold Gloves.

Plus he went to Japan to play before that was popular!


OK, I'll admit it. I thought Tommy and Willie Davis were related.
I thought they were the Dodger answer to the Alou brothers.

Tommy was the slugger of the two Davis', driving in 153 runs in an amazing MVP caliber 1962 season when he won the batting title and the RBI title. How did he finished THIRD in the MVP race with 2/3 of the Triple Crown?

He also batted .400 with a 1.067 OPS in the 1963 World Series.


There is no shortage of great Dodger catchers to choose from.
Steve Yeager was a World Series Co-MVP.
Mike Scioscia was a playoff hero.
Johnny Roseboro was a 4 time All Star and caught Koufax and Drysdale.
Russell Martin and Paul LoDuca had All Star seasons.

But Mike Piazza for a while was the face of the franchise.
He had the great story as he was drafted in the 62nd round as a favor to Tommy Lasorda.

Some favor! He quickly became one of the biggest stars in the game, putting up big power numbers, gigantic RBI totals and consistently contended for the batting title and the MVP.

He had a contract dispute after the 1997 season and without informing the GM nor the manager, the Dodgers dealt the face of the franchise to Florida.

Eventually he became the face of the Mets and the Dodgers languished without an identity for the rest of the 1990s and for most of the 2000s.

He should have been a Dodger for life.


The total tonnage of great pitchers and hitters who have played in Flatbush and Chavez Ravine will no doubt lead to a glaring snub here or there.

But I can not write a list for the Dodgers and omit Johnny Podres.
With the Dodgers down 0-2 AGAIN to the Yankees in the 1955 World Series, he pitched a complete game victory in game 3. And with the series extended to the limit, he went into Yankee Stadium and did the unthinkable:

He beat the Yankees and made the Dodgers World Series Champs.

How often does a 9-10 pitcher get named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year?

He became a legit All Star in Los Angeles and pitched in the 1959 and 1963 World Series winners for LA, but if not for his game 7 gem in 1955, Brooklyn may NEVER have had a title.

Ohhhh Doctor!
Not a lot of "Bums" on that team.

I could almost come up with a backup 25 roster that would be filled with All Stars and MVP candidates.

They sure know how to develop talent... but can they spot it on other clubs.
You bet.

In fact there are a few names on the acquired team that I thought were home grown.

Read on.



When I was compiling this list, I kept hoping some of the great catchers from the Dodgers past were acquired.
"Come on... please tell me Scioscia was a rule 5 draft pick... or Yeager was somehow picked up a deal with Andy Messersmith..."

No dice.
With all the great home grown catchers, I guess there is no need to deal for one.

Mickey Owen is best remembered for letting a game ending strike three get past him and allowing the Yankees to put together an unlikely rally in the 1941 World Series. But he was a very good catcher during the War Years.

He made 4 All Star teams and homered in the 1942 All Star Game. Now what he was doing in America during World War II is another issue... but he's the head of the acquired class.


Before the 1974 season, the Indians traded for Dodger minor league pitcher Bruce Ellingsen. He gave the Indians 14 relief appearances and 2 starts that year and never saw another big league game.

In exchange the Dodgers got one of the best players of the 1980s.
He gave the Dodgers the right handed slugger they needed to beat the Yankees in 1981. He homered in games 5 and 6 of the 1981 World Series and was named co-MVP of the series.

He had three top 5 finishes for the MVP in 4 years and led the Dodgers not only to the 1981 crown but the Division Title in 1983 and 1985.
He had the league's top OPS in 1985, regularly hit over .300, regularly hit 30 homers and was one of the most intimidating offensive forces in the NL.

Quite a nice bounty for Bruce Ellingsen,


Herman was already an All Star many times over and compiled the bulk of his Hall of Fame career with the Cubs when he came over in the middle of the 1941 season to Brooklyn.

The move jump started what was a lackluster star of the season as he batted .291 the rest of the way and helped Brooklyn win their first pennant since 1920.

In 1943, his last season before going to war, he batted .330 and drove in 100 runs. He did that with only 2 homers.
That is what I call good hitting with runners in scoring position!


Think of the middle infield the Red Sox could have had.
Not only did they give Jackie Robinson his first try out (only to become the LAST team to integrate) but they also had Pee Wee Reese in their farm system.

It was Reese's gesture in Cincinnati of putting his arm around Jackie Robinson that helped quiet a vicious crowd.
Perhaps that moment could have happened in Boston!

Jackie playing in the infield and amidst the boos, Red Sox shortstop Pee Wee Reese quietly and with great dignity shows the fans that this is his teammate and he deserves our respect.

And maybe they'd have a Hall of Fame Shortstop with 10 All Star appearances and 8 top 10 finishes in the MVP vote.

Nahhhh.... why would the Red Sox want a scenario like THAT??


Cox was a Pirates prospect who was supposed to replace future Hall of Famer Arky Vaughn. Instead he went to Europe and fought in World War II.

He came back from active service and was not the same player. The Pirates gave up on him and he found himself part of the one of the most famous infields in baseball history.

Cox was at third, Pee Wee Reese at shortstop, Jackie Robinson at second and Gil Hodges at first.
And despite being the least well known of the infield, he was considered possibly the best of the bunch defensively.


I am an unapologetic Manny Ramirez fan.
Hell, I'd welcome him back to the Red Sox.

And now he is unemployed.

Who knows if he is coming back?
Who knows if the players the Dodgers sent to Pittsburgh in the deal will amount to anything?

All I know is for three months Manny Ramirez was a Dodger.
I was living in Los Angeles for those three months.
And the Dodgers were suddenly relevant again. The Dodgers were exciting to watch and when they swept the Cubs thanks to Manny's bat people in LA remembered why the Dodgers can be so much fun.

Happy Manny is an amazing thing to watch.
LA never experienced Unhappy Manny.

They may never get that chance.
But for those three months, it was worth whatever it took to get him!


Walker was a journeyman outfielder when he came to the Dodgers in 1939. He found a home in Brooklyn both at the plate where he became a steady run producer and won a batting title, but with the fans.

His nickname was The People's Cherce (a play on the Brooklyn accent.)

As his name would suggest, he also was from the South and the Alabama native and fan favorite did not look kindly on the integration of the team.

He requested a trade, was part of the petition to disallow Jackie Robinson from playing and the two would not acknowledge each other.
But Robinson's play and his sportsmanship helped open his eyes.

He openly cried after Robinson's death saying how stupid a young man he was.
It takes some people some time to learn.


Well we go from Dixie Walker's eyes being opened to the wrongs of racism to Reggie Smith... a product of the Red Sox farm system.
The Red Sox had a switch hitting, power hitting All Star Gold Glove winning outfielder with speed... and they traded him.

Hmmmm. Why would the Yawkeys trade a player like that?
I wonder!

Smith became a staple in the Dodgers line up finishing in the top 5 of the MVP two times and hit three homers in a losing cause in the 1977 World Series.

If only Tom or Jean Yawkey had a Dixie Walker moment. (Then again Yawkey was the one who turned down Willie Mays.)


If there is one thing that Kirk Gibson has shown it's that he can come off the bench and deliver.

A quick glance at his stats in 1988 and you'd hardly think it was an MVP season. And there lies the problem with just judging a player's worth from the numbers.

He changed the culture of the team. Two years before he came in, they were recording Baseball Boogie.
People were wondering if the Jack Clark homer was going to be one of those franchise altering moments.

And Gibson showed up and suddenly the team started playing over their heads.

The home run off of Eckersley is one of the few sports moments that actually brings tears to my eyes.
Honestly when it happened, who didn't think "is this real?" Was there a soul who during the at bat wasn't thinking "Man, this is so sad to see him struggle?"

Heck, I'm going to try and find it on line so I can watch it again.



I wonder if future generations are going to be confused by the term "Tommy John Surgery." I wonder if it will be just part of the jargon and people won't be aware that there was actually a Tommy John who risked his career with an experimental ligament surgery and wound up having a borderline Hall of Fame career in the process?

On a side note, in the brilliant show Police Squad, the show that The Naked Gun is based on, there is an episode where Frank Drebin visits Johnny the shoe shiner for the word on the street. When Drebin leaves, Tommy Lasorda takes his place asks for advice.

Johnny's last line is "You wouldn't be in this trouble if you kept Tommy John."


The Cubs picked Hooton #2 overall in the secondary draft (remember that?) but gave up on him after only three plus seasons in Chicago.
Maybe that's a slight hint of why the Cubs are without a World Series title in the past 100 seasons.

Hooton took to LA, winning 18 games in 1975. He won 19 games for the 1978 NL Champs and finished second in the Cy Young vote to Gaylord Perry that year.

In 1981, he went 4-1 in his 5 post season starts posting a 0.82 ERA in the three rounds. He was the NLCS MVP and won the World Series clinching game 6.

He would have looked good in a Cubs uniform.


Most career minor leaguers are just happy to get the opportunity to pitch when they make a club at age 31. Vance had played for several organizations and made 11 big league appearances (and 4 starts) before the 1922 season.

He took advantage of his opportunity.
He won 18 games, pitched 245 2/3 innings in 1922, leading the league with 134 strikeouts.

He was just getting warmed up.
He led the NL in strikeouts all seven seasons between 1922 and 1928.
He had the best strikeout to walk ratio every year from 1924 to 1931. Twice he led the league in wins.
In 1924 he won the pitcher triple crown when he also posted the best ERA in the league and won the NL MVP.

He threw a no hitter and had a nine pitch three strikeout inning.

He pitched until he was 44 and is now in the Hall of Fame.
I wonder how many times he thought of quitting while in the minors all of those years.


In the 1965 World Series, the Minnesota Twins had reason to feel confident. All they did was beat Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax in the first two games. They went into LA hopeful to win at least one game, but maybe even two. If they could beat the big two then who could stand in their way?

Try Claude Osteen.
The first year Dodger (brought over from Washington) pitched a masterful five hit shutout in game 3 and gave the Dodgers their first win in the series.

The Twins would lose all three games in LA before losing to Koufax in the finale... but they may never have gotten to that seventh game without Osteen's gem.


Dixie Walker requested a trade when he found out he'd be playing with Jackie Robinson. He played 1947, saw the error of his ways and then was dealt in the off season. The deal was one of the best the Dodgers made in their last glory era in Brooklyn.

Billy Cox came over along with Roe and the starting rotation got one of their more reliable arms.
Roe made 4 All Star teams in Brooklyn and went 22-3 in 1951 when he won Pitcher of the Year from the Sporting News.

He said later that he used the spitball as his bread and butter pitch.
No people, that is NOT the moral equivalent of using steroids.



Perranoski was a 20 save pitcher before guys like that were popular. He would give the Dodgers 100+ innings of relief.

In 1963 he went 16-3 with 20 saves and a 1.67 ERA over 129 innings pitched.
And in game 2 of the World Series that year, he got Joe Pepitone to ground out and Clete Boyer to strikeout with the tying run in the on deck circle for the save.

One can only imagine what kind of save totals he would compile if he was a Tony LaRussa type closer of 9th inning and out.


Like most people, I was first aware of Terry Forster when Dave Letterman started calling him a Fat Tub-A-Goo.

But he was also a very good reliever. He came over from Pittsburgh and saved 22 games in 1978.
He had health (weight) issues in 1979 and 1980 but was healthy enough to pitch for the 1981 World Champs.

He did not let up a run in 8 post season appearances and wiggled out of a bases loaded jam in the Dodgers game 4 victory in the 1981 World Series against the Dodgers.

And yes, he was a fat guy.


Cheating isn't exactly new to baseball and Jay Howell was caught with pine tar in his glove during the 1988 NLCS.

He was suspended and the Dodgers, already losers of the two Hershiser starts, looked doomed.
They won the pennant without their closer and faced Oakland in the World Series.

In game 3 of the World Series, Howell let up a walk off homer to his former teammate Mark McGwire.
Conventional wisdom called for Tommy Lasorda to bench him and rely on Jesse Orosco, Alejandro Pena or maybe Ricky Horton.

The very next day, in game 4 of the 1988 World Series, the Dodgers took a startling 4-2 lead against A's Ace Dave Stewart. A win would mean Hershiser would be available to potentially clinch the series the next day... but the A's were rallying.

In the bottom of the 7th Dave Henderson doubled to make the game 4-3. The big guns, Canseco-Parker-McGwire were coming up.

Lasorda told conventional wisdom to take a walk and brought in Howell.
Canseco walked and Parker reached on an error. With the bases loaded he faced his nemesis McGwire... and popped him up.

He got out of trouble in the 8th as well. He gave Lasorda 1 1/3 innings... time to bring in Orosco or Pena?
Nope. Lasorda tempted fate and brought Howell out for the 9th.

With the tying run on first and only one out and Canseco, Parker and McGwire coming up, a single swing could win the game for the A's.
Canseco struck out.
Bring in the lefty to face Parker, right? Nope.

Howell got Parker to pop up and Lasorda's hunch was vindicated.
Lasorda scolded the writers after the game. "I can't WAIT to read what you write about him tomorrow morning!"

Somewhere deep inside I'm sure Lasorda gave a big sigh of relief.


According to, this is the definition of "Vulture"

any of several large, primarily carrion-eating Old World birds of prey of the family Accipitridae, often having a naked head and less powerful feet than those of the related hawks and eagles.

It could also refer to the season Phil Regan had in 1966.
He swooped in and went 14-1 as a reliever for the 1966 NL Champs.

It wasn't all undeserved. He threw 116 innings and posted a 1.62 ERA... but I am sure when Sandy Koufax et al saw his name among the league leaders in wins, they imagined a bird of prey munching on a carcass.


Brewer was a serviceable reliever with the Cubs and the Dodgers in the early to mid 1960s. He was nothing special but earned a spot on the team each year and picked up a World Series ring in 1965.

Then starting in the late 1960s, his career took off as he became a 20 save a year man, striking out more than a batter an inning seeing his ERA often drop under 2.00 and he made the All Star team in 1973.

Not bad for a pitcher who had once tried to sue Billy Martin for lost wages when he went on the disabled list because of a fight with Martin.



He didn't have the sexy stats for the 1940s, but Sabermetric guys would love him. He would always be among the league leaders in on base percentage, walks and hit by pitch. He knew the value of getting on base and the result is he'd also me among the league leaders in run scored.

Leo Durocher, who managed Stanky with the Dodgers and Giants, gave him the most flattering scouting report you can ever ask for.

"He can't hit, can't run, can't field. He's no nice guy... all the little SOB can do is win."


Furcal's spark was missing from the Dodger line up for most of the 2008 season, but they welcomed it when he returned.
He batted .333 but most importantly seemed to be involved in just about every Dodger rally in the stunning 3 game sweep of the Cubs in the Division Series including scoring the third and final run in the game 3 clincher.

Furcal played an interesting game of footsie with the Braves and Dodgers this off season, but the Dodgers should be thrilled he is back in LA.


I so associate Johnny B. Baker with the Giants as a manager than I forget sometimes how great he was for the Dodgers.
He came to the Dodgers from the Braves (and was on deck when Hank Aaron hit his 715th homer).

With the Dodgers he put up some solid regular season numbers (and got MVP consideration in 1980 and 1981.) But where he really shone was in the LCS.

In 4 League Championship Series, he hit a combined .371 with a 1.048 OPS. He had 3 homers and 13 RBI in 17 LCS games including the home run off of Steve Carlton in game 4 of the 1977 NLCS that put the Dodgers up for good.

You would have thought those big game instincts would have helped him make better decisions in the 2002 World Series!


In 1973 Manny Mota played in 89 games. He started less than 1/2 of the Dodgers games. And yet received MVP consideration.

How so?
There was no more reliable man off the bench in the National League.
He set records for pinch hits and in 1977 he batted .395 with an OPS of 1.021... and he started only 1 game.

Fans of Airplane will remember Ted Striker hearing the PA voice in his head announcing Manny Mota pinch hitting.


The Dodgers got so many contributions from unlikely sources in the 1988 World Series that it bordered on the insane.
Besides the Gibson homer you had the combination of Mickey Hatcher and Mike Davis.

Together they hit 3 homers in the regular season and 3 homers in the World Series.
When Mike Scoscia went down, veteran catcher and 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey had to take over. There was no back up catcher for the game 5 finale.

No matter. Dempsey hit a 2 out RBI double scoring Davis scoring the Dodgers fifth and final run.
He then caught the final strikeout and started the World Series celebration.

Sometimes it pays to have a World Series MVP riding the pine.


There are many other valuable Dodgers I could include here, but I didn't want Nomo-mania to go without a word.

Last April I appealed to the Dodgers to give Hideo Nomo one last start to give his career a fitting end.

Not to repeat myself, but the arrival of Nomo began what could be one of the most significant movements in baseball history: The opening of Asian talent to the majors.

He was one of the few players that made everyone cheer in the post strike season of 1995 and was a 16 game winner in 1996 as well. Plus in his second stint with LA he gave the Dodgers back to back 16 win seasons... back to back 218+ inning seasons and back to back seasons finishing among the league leaders in strikeouts.

The wave of Japanese stars (and Japanese revenue) all began when Nomo paved the way.
I felt that was overlooked last year.
I still think it is overlooked.

Thus why Nomo gets love here.


Any team with both Kirk Gibson and Manny Ramirez is worth watching... but can you imagine a starting 5 of Koufax-Drysdale-Sutton- Valenzuela-Newcombe? Heck Hershiser and Podres would be out of the pen.

Can you imagine Garvey, Snider, Campanella, Cey and Hodges in the same line up?

And with Jackie Robinson on the team... it's safe to say they'd have character.



One more down!!!

That's the Dodgers

And the Blue Jays
And the Pirates
And the Diamondbacks
And the Mariners
And the Nationals
And the Angels
And The Padres
And The Twins
And The Orioles
And the A's
And the Astros
And the Giants
And the Rockies
And the Mets
And the Rangers
And the Marlins
And the Yankees
And the Red Sox

11 to go...



  1. Guess I didn't really know my history. I thought Koufax was in the 55 series, but no, too young. I thought he made his impact in Brooklyn!

    Koufax is a Madoff victim, holy crap!

    Jackie and I have the same birthday.

  2. I was just checking out Mike Piazza's numbers. Is there any chance that he isn't on THE LIST? I look at the explosion in his numbers when he heads to the Mets? Anyone know who the clubhouse assistants were?

  3. Koufax did play three seasons in Brooklyn, but they were not noteworthy years.

    He was indeed on the 1955 Dodgers where he went 2-2 in 12 games (5 starts)
    He was 2-4 in 1956
    and 5-4 his last year in Brooklyn. He didn't play in the 1955 nor 1956 World Series and was considered to be a talented pitcher who had not harnessed his potential.

    Even in 1959 when he was a starter on the World Champs he was an 8-6 with a 4 something ERA and was a sub .500 pitcher with a 4 something ERA in 1960.

    He really didn't blossom into Sandy Koufax the great until 1961.

    His reign of greatness was 1961-1966... all in Los Angeles

  4. Oh there are many that I have mentioned that I have more than suspicions about.

    Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco are on my Oakland team
    A-Rod is on my Seattle, Texas and Yankees team
    Clemens is on my Red Sox, Blue Jays and Astros team

    At this point no name would surprise me.
    Seriously, other than Julio Lugo, who can we honestly say "He's 100% clean"

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. (oops, posted under another address at first)

    they are probably all on something. in every sport. who wouldn't want that advantage? I'd be shooting the clear or spreading the juice or whatever the heck it is they do, if it made me a better promo producer. But it turns out what makes that happen is single malt whisky from Islay. as early as possible.

  7. I actually don't really have a problem with guys using steriods. Sully has mentioned that pine tine in the glove isn't the moral equivalent of taking steriods, but in reality it probably is. And based on who is in the HOF and who isn't, guys should only really be compared with others in their own era anyway. Let all the juicers in and know that they won't be the first of the last cheaters to make it!

  8. Having pine tar in your glove isn't as bad because it isn't ILLEGAL.

    I'm not talking about in the game of baseball, I'm talking about in the laws of the United States.

    You can't have some of the 'roids that A-Rod was injecting without a perscription.

    A cop can't arrest me for having pine tar in the glove.

    All that being said, I addressed the new Math we need to use in terms of having Juicers in the Hall

    I think A-Rod, Bonds and Clemens belong in the Hall

    I do NOT think McGwire or Sosa do

  9. I agree with pretty much everything in the steroid-era math post. But I wonder if the presence of amphetamines in baseball since the 30s isn't a better parallel than pine tar. Though amphetamines weren't illegal in the US until 1965, I wonder if they improved performance as much, if not more, than steroids. Were Cy Young or Ty Cobb or Walter Johnson or even Babe Ruth significantly aided by drugs that are now illegal? Steroids have been illegal in the US since 1990, but were not banned in baseball until the early 2000s. As a point of comparison, steroids are schedule III drugs while amphetamines are schedule II, indicating the latter as more dangerous. Just some food for thought!

  10. I agree about greenies and I kind of poo poo that ANY era was devoid of some asterix here or there.

    (Keep in mind Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby never played in an integrated game... ergo the talent pool of MLB in their era was artificially shallow)

    Best just take the numbers, keep in mind certain eras (dead ball, live ball, high mound of the 1960s, DH era, steroid era) when comparing stats.

  11. Sully, my dad really enjoyed this post and wanted to post this comment but he couldn't figure out how. Silly parents... internets for kids!

    Carl Baylis:
    i really enjoyed reading this column. i lived within walking distance of ebbets field, was taken out of school by my mother to go watch games on wednesday afternoon (it was ladies day - 1/2 price for her) and at one game, left my seat in left-center field upper deck to get a hot dog,
    when gil hodges' home run landed on my empty seat. i believe that same game was also a no-hitter for carl erskine.

  12. why wouldnt clemente be on the dodgers?

  13. Clemente isn't on the Dodgers because he played as many games in a Dodgers uniform as Thomas Jefferson.

    Yes he was a farm hand with the Dodgers... they allowed the Pirates to swipe him before he made the big leagues.

    Should I put Jeff Bagwell on the Red Sox team?

  14. Anonymous2:37 PM

    Nice post. On an unrelated note, I see that the Dodger payroll is up around 80 million which is a paltry sum compared to teams like the yankees.

    Do you think baseball needs a salary cap?

  15. Anonymous2:39 PM

    Also, do you think manny is deserving of this list despite only playing 1/2 of a season for the dodgers?


    Los Angeles Apartments

  16. Sam Stone...

    I am 100% ANTI salary cap.
    It drives me bonkers that people still blather on about it.

    How did the top three payrolls do last year?
    None of them made the playoffs.

    How did 4 of the top 6 payrolls do last year?
    They played golf in October

    I wrote about this already


  17. Of course Manny deserves to be on.
    They won the Division because of him and he carried them past the Cubs

    and more than that... he has given some life back to Dodger fans
    There was NO excitement for the 2004 and 2006 playoff teams.

    Now LA is a Dodger town.

    Was I supposed to put Raul Modesi?

    Dave Roberts played 2 months for the Red Sox and didn't start a single post season game... yet he is on my acquired roster.

  18. Anonymous8:19 PM

    I'm disappointed that Steve Sax didn't make it on your list. Loved Sax

  19. Anonymous10:55 AM

    Thats cool. Me, my dad and Duke all share the same birthday and strangley enough Duke was my dad's favorite player.

  20. What's with the gratuitous bashing of the Red Sox for trading Reggie Smith? It may not have been a deal you would make, but Rick Wise and Bernie Carbo weren't chopped liver. Without Carbo and (especially) Wise, the Red Sox probably don't win the pennant in 1975. Add in the fact that the Red Sox had a couple brilliant young prospects named Dwight Evans and Cecil Cooper who were trying to get into the lineup, and two more on the way behind him named Jim Rice and Fred Lynn...and suddenly you don't need racism to justify trading Reggie Smith.

  21. gratuitous bashing? Regarding the Yawkey's and race?

    Sorry... the Yawkey's get a grand total of zero benefit of the doubt when it comes to race. From being the last to integrate and having Pinky Higgins collect checks year in and year out to losing a racial discrimination case in the 1980s (do you know how hard it is to LOSE a racial discrimination case????)

    The scumbag Yawkeys did their best to destroy the Red Sox franchise during their wretched tenure of owning the team... and unless proved otherwise, any moving of an All Star caliber player who wasn't white I look with suspicion.

    Thank GOD that family no longer owns the team