Thursday, March 17, 2011

Davey Lopes Must Hate Me

I was a big fan of the Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey infield growing up. And yet, I didn't know this story, about my namesake, in a great Ken Gurnick feature article:

If [Maury] Wills was responsible for reviving the stolen base in baseball in the 1960s, [Davey] Lopes took the baton in the 1970s and ran with it. He was a four-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner with the power to once slug 28 home runs. But he was known mostly for stealing bags, leading the league twice. He finished his career with 557 swipes (25th all-time).

Injuries slowed Lopes in 1981 and Campanis -- who often said he'd rather unload a player one year early than keep him one year too long -- called up Steve Sax from Double-A after the strike ended that summer. Sax won the second-base job and Campanis unloaded Lopes to Oakland for Minor Leaguer Lance Hudson in the winter. Lopes played five more seasons -- he even stole 47 bases at age 40 -- then retired to become a coach, as well as manager of Milwaukee for a little more than two seasons.

Lopes, the first of the record-breaking infield to be moved, didn't appreciate the treatment from the Dodgers during his final months in 1981.

"Things happen," he said in retrospect. "It was the first time I was traded, and I was leaving the only organization I had ever been with. I took it personal and I was emotional. Over the years, I've tried to put it in perspective. It was a business thing. It could have been handled better on both sides."

At some point during this year, i'm sure I'm going to get the chance to meet Davey Lopes. And I hope he doesn't kick my ass because of it. I didn't know that "I" helped catalyze his departure from the Dodgers, though I did know that this didn't come on the best of terms.

In any event, we are really glad to have you back in the fold, Davey. And please don't kick my ass when we meet.


Jimbo said...

Time to dust off your "He Hate Me" Dodgers jersey.