A little postseason history lesson
After qualifying for the playoffs, the Dodgers are still aiming to capture consecutive National League West titles for the first since 1977 and 1978. Tommy Lasorda and Joe Torre are the only two managers to lead Los Angeles to the playoffs in their first two seasons piloting the Dodgers. Lasorda and Gabby Street (1930-31 Cardinals) are the only N.L. managers to win pennants in their first two seasons as manager.
This is also the first time the Dodgers have reached the playoffs four times in a six-year span since the Brooklyn Dodgers reached the World Series four times in a five-year span from 1952-56. The “playoff” losses in 1946, 1951, 1962 and 1980 are considered part of the regular season as tiebreakers, thus don’t count as a postseason appearance.
The only Brooklyn manager to come close to reaching the playoffs in his first two full seasons was Burt Shotton, who replaced Leo Durocher during the 1948 season and finished in third place. In 1949, Shotton’s Dodgers won the 1949 National League pennant and nearly repeated in 1950, missing a chance to force a playoff with the Phillies by losing at home against Philadelphia on the final day of the regular season.
Brooklyn’s Ned Hanlon won consecutive N.L. pennants in his first two seasons as Dodger manager in 1899 and 1900, but the World Series didn’t begin until 1903.
— Mark Langill
Top 10 Dodger homers
As many of you may have seen, Bill Plaschke weighed in this morning on this Top 10 homers in L.A. Dodger history and it made me think, I wonder what all of you think. We asked team historian Mark Langill to kick it off with his thoughts, so check it out below.
This is his personal “Top 10” Los Angeles list favoring home runs which occurred either during the postseason, affected a pennant race or set a record. According to him, time will determine where the Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night Slam ranks in the memory of Dodger fans.
1. Kirk Gibson – 1988 World Series Game 1
2. Rick Monday – 1981 NLCS Game 5
3. Mike Scioscia – 1988 NLCS Game 4
4. Lou Johnson – 1965 World Series Game 7
5. Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager – back-to-back HRs in 1981 World Series Game 5
6. Steve Finley – 2004 NL West Division clinching grand slam
7. Four consecutive HRs in 9th and Nomar Garciaparra’s game-winning HR in 10th vs. Padres, 2006
8. Dusty Baker joins 30-Home Run Quartet in final at-bat of 1977 regular season against Houston’s J.R. Richard.
9. Joe Ferguson and Ron Cey hit game-winning HRs during 1980 weekend sweep of Houston to force one-game playoff.
10. Shawn Green – 4 HRs in one game at Milwaukee, 2002
Honorable Mention (random order): Mike Piazza’s 2 HRs last day of 1993 eliminates Giants; Pedro Guerrero’s walk-off HR gives rookie Fernando Valenzuela 8-0 record, 5/14/81 (Valenzuela still only player since 1945 to win his first eight ML starts); Wally Moon’s walk-off HR caps Sandy Koufax 18-strikeout performance at Coliseum, 8/31/59; rookie Dick Nen’s HR in 1963 pennant race at St. Louis; Steve Garvey’s walk-off HR gives Burt Hooton club-record 12th consecutive victory, 1975; Guerrero ties ML record with 15th HR in June 1985; Jimmy Wynn’s grand slam vs. Reds, 9/15/74; Piazza becomes only Dodger to hit HR out of Dodger Stadium, 1997; Frank Howard, 1963 World Series Game 4; James Loney grand slam at Wrigley Field, 2008 NLDS.
And Steve Lyons penned this entry after watching the game Wednesday night.
Some draft day history
Although most players aren’t household names coming out of high school or college, the annual June amateur draft is critical for baseball teams building for the future. The current Dodger roster, including starting pitchers Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, reflects the recent success in terms of high draft choices eventually reaching the Major Leagues.
The 2008 roster featured four original Dodger draft choices who each played in at least 100 games – first baseman James Loney (161 games), outfielder Matt Kemp (155), catcher Russell Martin (155) and infielder Blake DeWitt (117). The last time the Dodgers had as many original draft choices to play in at least 100 games in the same season (and not appearing in their second tenure with the Dodgers like Tom Goodwin, Jose Vizcaino, Dave Hansen and Eric Young) was the 1988 team with second baseman Steve Sax (160), outfielder Mike Marshall (144), catcher Mike Scioscia (130), shortstop Dave Anderson (116) and third baseman Jeff Hamilton (111).
Relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton has a chance to become the first Dodger in Los Angeles history to lead the team in saves for one season after being selected by the organization as a high school pitcher. The only other single-season saves leaders drafted by the Dodgers as pitchers were Steve Howe (University of Michigan) and Tom Niedenfuer (Washington State University). Charlie Hough, who led the Dodgers in saves in 1976 and 1977, was originally selected in 1966 by the Dodgers as third baseman out of Hialeah (FL) High School and he switched to pitching at the suggestion of his minor league manager, Tommy Lasorda.
— Mark Langill
Last night’s failure of a Mets runner to touch third base in the late innings brought back memories of the Dodgers’ first home game on the West Coast. A record crowd of more than 78,000 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum on April 18, 1958 watched the Dodgers and Giants wage a tight battle into the ninth inning. Trailing 6-4, the Giants began a rally when rookie Jim Davenport’s double chased starter Carl Erskine. Willie Kirkland greeted reliever Clem Labine with an apparent RBI triple.
But Dodger rookie third baseman Dick Gray called for the ball after the play. Gray told umpire Hal Dixon that Davenport didn’t touch third base en route to scoring. According to Gray, Dixon smiled and said, “I wondered if you were going to notice.”
Davenport was called out on the appeal, a critical play because the Giants’ comeback fell short after Willie Mays’ infield single scored Kirkland and the Dodgers escaped with a 6-5 victory.
— Mark Langill
And don’t forget to keep checking Psychollingy on a regular basis, as Steve Lyons posted some responses to the comments you all are leaving for him and Eric Collins.
Historical entry from Mark Langill…
This month marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most unique Spring Training weekends in team history. Because of torrential rains in Florida, the 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers played a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds at Gran Stadium in Havana, Cuba. Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax were the starting pitchers and the Dodgers won both games by scores of 3-2 and 4-3.
Reds general manager Gabe Paul called Bobby Maduro, president of the Cuban Sugar Kings of the Triple-A International League, to ask whether he could take his Cincinnati team to Cuba for the weekend. The Brooklyn Dodgers previously trained in Havana in 1941, 1942 and 1947. The 1959 Sugar Kings were managed by Cuba native Preston Gomez, who was hired to manage the Dodgers’ Triple-A Spokane affiliate in 1960. The Havana club relocated to New Jersey on July 13, 1960.
Major League Baseball returned to Cuba 40 years later in 1999 when the Baltimore Orioles faced the Cuban national team in Havana.
Dodgers on Game Shows…
It is somewhat ironic, I think, that the Dodgers recently visited the “Price is Right” set, given the last three months of trying to find the right price for Manny. As you surely know by now, he granted his first interview in a while to the LA Times and it was great to hear from him and know how much he enjoyed playing in Los Angeles. As you can imagine, it’s not always easy to work through intermediaries in any business sense, but it’s a necessary part of the game and his agent is very good at what he does. That said, I hope that Manny’s comments are an indication that we can work something out (hopefully before the Price is Right episode airs in mid-March!!!)
Meanwhile, our team historian, Mark Langill, has been a contributor to this blog from time to time and I’ve asked him to send us a weekly post that touches on something historical from the club. Sometimes it’ll be an anniversary, sometimes it’ll be a relevant piece of history tied to current events and they’ll vary in length, I’m sure. But, there’s so much knowledge kicking around in his head, we want to make sure you guys all enjoy it, too. So, here’s his first weekly post…
The Dodgers’ recent winter caravan included a visit to “The Price Is Right” game show with host Drew Carey at CBS Studios, rekindling memories of a time when Dodger personnel often appeared on the non-baseball airwaves on game shows, variety specials and even in the movies.
During their tenure in Brooklyn, the New York-based game show “What’s My Line?” included mystery guests from the world of sports, including Dodger catcher Roy Campanella and Duke Snider.
In Los Angeles, sitcoms in the early 1960s featured Dodger coach Leo Durocher in a “manager” role because acting didn’t appeal to the low-key Walter Alston. Durocher appeared on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” scouting Jethro as a pitcher; “The Munsters,” scouting Herman Munster as a power hitter; and received advice from a talking horse on “Mister Ed.”
Arguably the most versatile Dodger in an acting role was pitcher Don Drysdale, who could appear as a gun-toting villain in such shows at “The Rifleman” and then wear a tuxedo and sing love songs, like he did after the 1963 World Series on “The Joey Bishop Show.”
In one scene, Drysdale masterfully performed “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” until he suddenly stopped when starting the song’s last line which began, “Your golden sun …” The supposedly startled Bishop approached Drysdale and the pair staged a conversation away from the microphone. Like a manager, Bishop then summoned relief pitcher Ron Perranoski, who slowly walked onstage in his Dodger uniform, complete with warmup jacket slung over his shoulder. Perranoski handed his jacket to Drysdale, who walked off the stage. “There’s another one Don couldn’t finish,” Bishop joked. Perranoski quickly sang the song’s final four words, “… will shine for me” to get the save.