A Harmless Lie Created a Famous Infielder
By: Winston Wei
On June 23rd, 1973, the Dodgers lost a game 1-4 against the Cincinnati Reds. They only had seven hits, and before the day’s nightcap, manager Walter Alston tried to look for a solution to change the lineup.
The solution? It was Utility Infielder Steve Garvey. A utility infielder is a player that does not have the offensive capabilities to be a starter player but can play more than one defensive role.
“I was sitting at my locker,” Garvey recalled, “and Walter Alston came by and stopped me and asked me, ‘Have you ever played first?’ ”
Although Garvey has not, he lied to the manager, saying that he did.
“Oh sure,” Garvey said.
As a result, that night, he lined up with Ron Cey, Bill Russell, and Davey Lopes. These people, as listed, were the infield lineups for the next eight and a half years, as things rarely changed. This squad achieved 21 All-Star Game appearances, four National League pennants, and a 1981 World Series title.
Fifty years later, the Dodgers infielders were honored Friday night before the game against the Houston Astros. Garvey, Cey. and Russell were at the stadium to throw the first pitch and they watched a pregame video tribute. They enjoyed standing next to each other after years of being on the same team and sharing the field they call home.
“It’s just like your family,” Russell said. “We didn’t take anything for granted back then. You had to be successful to be together that long.”
The quadruplet has achieved many things individually. Russell qualified for the Midsummer Classic in 1973, 1976, and 1980. Meanwhile, Lopes was a rookie year finalist in 1973, a Gold Glove Winner in 1978, and four consecutive All-Stars from 1978 to 1981. In addition, Cey went to 6 All-Star games in a row from 1974-1979.
Lastly, Garvey became a four-time Gold Glove winner, won an NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1974, and appeared in eight consecutive All-Star games from 1974-1981.
“When you look at the accomplishments, the longevity, the contribution to the Dodger organization and baseball,” Garvey said. “All four of us have taken a lot of pride in it.”
It is hard to believe that a careless lie was the start of the iconic baseball player Steve Garvey as people know him now.