Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Maury Wills (Page 1 of 2)

The Hall of Fame, the Dodgers and the Harold Baines effect

So now Fernando Valenzuela has to get in. So now Gil Hodges has to get in. So now Orel Hershiser has to get in. So now Steve Garvey has to get in. So now …

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Versatile Dodgers move from Iron Men to Graphene Gang

Bill Russell with Walter Alston

If you have any sense of Los Angeles Dodger history (and if you don’t, click here!), you know about the iron man.

Steve Garvey played in every game the Dodgers had from 1976 through 1982 — 1,083 in all, and except for eight pinch-hitting appearances, all at his favored position of first base. At his durability peak in 1976, Garvey played in 1,464 2/3 innings, or all but six innings the Dodgers played that year.

Surprisingly, that 1976 season didn’t make Garvey the Dodgers’ all-time single-season innings leader. In a largely forgotten but rather astonishing 1973 season, Bill Russell was on the field at shortstop for every single out the Dodgers made except for four of them.

Playing at fair territory’s most challenging defensive position, Russell logged 1,489 2/3 innings and 160 complete games, both franchise records. He left only two games early:

  • On April 7, in the Dodgers’ second game of the season, Russell gave way in the top of the ninth inning to pinch-hitter Von Joshua, who hit a game-tying RBI single. Davey Lopes, who scored the tying run as a pinch-runner, went to shortstop for the first time in his MLB career in the bottom of the ninth, which lasted only two batters before Jerry Morales hit a walkoff homer against Dodger reliever Jim Brewer.
  • On July 21, Russell took a breather in the bottom of the eighth inning of an 8-1 loss at St. Louis, missing the Cardinals’ final three outs in what I expect was a steamy summer’s evening on the Busch Stadium astroturf.

That was it. Russell, who racked up 163 hits but only had a .301 on-base percentage in 1973, played in 99.9 percent of the Dodgers’ innings at short that year.

If those are the iron men, let me introduce you to (pause to Google most flexible metals in the world) the graphene men.

This year, the Dodgers are heading for a couple of unprecedented fielding events that underscores the team’s unusual versatility. For the first time in a 162-game season, there might not be a single Dodger to play even 1,000 innings at a single position — remarkable considering that the team will play close to 1,500. And, their leader in innings at one position — also for the first time since at least 1962 — might be a catcher.

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Happy 90th birthday, Don Newcombe

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers celebrated legendary pitcher Don Newcombe’s 90th birthday at their most recent homestand finale six days ago, but today’s the actual day. We all wish Newk a happy 90th!

— Jon Weisman

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Newk 49

Emotional first-pitch salute to Vin Scully opens 2016 season at Dodger Stadium

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By Jon Weisman

In a breathtaking experience that traversed Dodger history from Don Newcombe to Clayton Kershaw, Vin Scully received an emotional tribute before the first pitch of his final Opening Day at Dodger Stadium as the team’s broadcaster.

Al Michaels, who was considered by some a possible successor to Scully four decades ago, hosted the tribute that mixed video (including messages from Henry Aaron and Kirk Gibson) with live presentations.

The roll call of Dodgers that took the field went as follows: Newcombe, Maury Wills, Sandy Koufax, Al Downing, Rick Monday, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Bill Russell, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Tommy Lasorda and Kershaw, with Magic Johnson and Peter O’Malley then escorting Scully on to the hallowed stadium grass, before an enormous standing ovation from the crowd.

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Top series by Jon SooHoo, bottom by Juan Ocampo

A baseball autographed by every participant was then passed down the line to Scully, who truly looked moved by the moment and said afterward he was “overwhelmed.”

Watching him from ground level, as the scoreboard camera circled around him for its closeup, I never felt more how much of a living legend we were privileged to know, and to call our own.

 

So, Dave Roberts, what’s a quality assurance coach?

Image via Parks Moving, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Image via Parks Moving, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Not only are there new names in the Dodger coaching staff, there’s a new title — one that might seem kind of out there.

But “quality assurance coach,” the role to be filled by former Dodger infielder and minor-league infield coordinator Juan Castro, is actually a very down-to-earth role, according to Dodger manager Dave Roberts.

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Maury Wills to receive lifetime honor at scouts dinner

Wills Sliding (steals record)
By Jon Weisman

Dodger legend Maury Wills will receive the Player Lifetime Achievement Award at the 13th annual “In the Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular, benefiting the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 16.

The PBSF, founded and led by Dennis Gilbert, has helped raise more than 1.6 million that is awarded in grants to scouts (or their immediate family) whose circumstances have created a financial need.

The foundation’s mission is to create a financial bridge for those scouts by generating funds through contributions so that the PBSF may continue to help them get back on their feet. The foundation helps with such items as house and car payments, medical services including insurance, and daily living expenses up to and including funeral costs.

Dodgers president Stan Kasten will present Wills with the award.

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Remembering ’65: World Series Game 5

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By Jon Weisman

Pretty much the only drama in Game 5 of the 1965 World Series was whether Sandy Koufax would throw another perfect game or no-hitter.

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Remembering ’65: World Series Game 4

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By Jon Weisman

After lasting only 2 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the 1965 World Series, Don Drysdale was his old self in Game 4.

Even better, the Dodger offense was a punishing crew, too.

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Remembering ’65: Koufax for the pennant, on two days’ rest

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By Jon Weisman

Having won nine straight games, coming from 4 1/2 games back 10 days earlier to tie the Giants for the National League lead on September 26, 1965, the Dodgers still had work to do.

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Remembering ’65: Tied!

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By Jon Weisman

“Breathing defiance in the face of the Giants’ seemingly insurmountable lead,” wrote Frank Finch in the September 24 edition of the Times, “the doughty Dodgers face the Cardinals tonight to open their final homestand of the gruelling, grinding National League campaign.”

Already, the Dodgers had made progress, trimming a 4 1/2-game deficit to two games. But their defiance was matched, and then some, by the Giants, according to UPI.

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Remembering ’65: Lowly Mets send Dodgers reeling

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By Jon Weisman

Here’s a game, within a series, within a season, that would have driven Dodger fans on Twitter crazy.

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Remembering ’65: After tense week for Dodgers, Koufax survives rough All-Star outing

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remembering-65-vertical-v1-grassBy Jon Weisman

Fifty years ago at the All-Star Game, Willie Mays (not Mike Trout) dominated from the plate, and Sandy Koufax (not Clayton Kershaw) had his struggles in his fifth consecutive All-Star year.

The difference: Koufax sneaked away with the victory.

As John Hall of the Times reported, when Koufax entered the game in the bottom of the sixth with the score tied, 5-5, his first seven pitches missed the strike zone. He needed to strike out Jimmie Hall with two on and two out to escape his only inning of work.

In the top of the seventh, Mays led off with a walk, went to third on a Hank Aaron single and scored the winning run on Ron Santo’s infield hit, all off “Sudden” Sam McDowell. That made Koufax the winning pitcher.

“Sandy looked a little sheepish when he was congratulated,” Hall wrote.

Koufax, however, was proud of one thing at the All-Star Break.

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Remembering ’65: On the run in June

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By Jon Weisman

Frank Finch, the Dodger beat writer for the Times 50 years ago, would frequently report in the summer of 1965 that Maury Wills was ahead of the pace of his record-setting season of 104 stolen bases in 1962. That year, Wills had 27 steals at the end of May and 42 by the end of June. In 1965, Wills had 30 steals at the end of May and 47 by the end of June.

But the thing about 1962 for Wills was his enormous finishing kick: 53 steals (in 59 attempts) after July 31. Wills didn’t come close to matching that, producing 22 stolen bases from August 1 on, to finish with 94 — still the second-best total in National League history.

Here are many more interesting Dodger tidbits from the first two weeks of June 1965. There’s a lot, but really great stuff if you’re a Dodger fan …

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Remembering ’65: ‘The Sound of the Dodgers’

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By Jon Weisman

One day in May, this little item appeared deep in the game notes of the Times’ Frank Finch:

Maury Wills and Willie Davis cut records with Stubby Kaye Friday afternoon as well as doing single platters. During the session Jimmy Durante made a record called ‘Dandy Sandy,’ singing the praises of Prof. Koufax. Wills said it would be a smash.

You didn’t think I would leave you hanging, did you?

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Remembering ’65: An April time capsule

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By Jon Weisman

Moving past their big preseason scare regarding Sandy Koufax’s elbow, the Dodgers’ found some rhythm in April. Los Angeles spent most of the month in first place, going 10-5.

Here are some tidbits of the times — a really fun time capsule, if you ask me.

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