A single small lie started one of the Dodgers’ best infields.
By: David He
On June 23, 2023, at the Dodger Stadium before their game against the Houston Astros, a legendary Dodgers infield from 50 years ago was honored. Three of those four infielders at the game then went onto the field they knew so well 50 years ago.
Interestingly, a single small lie formed that amazing Dodger infield.
On June 23, 1973, the manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the time, Walter Alston, was looking for a way to change up his lineup because of a recent loss of 4-1 to the Cincinnati Reds.
Meanwhile, utility infielder Steve Garvey was just sitting at his locker. He never had any relatively big appearances in his big league career, so he wasn’t as valuable as some of the other players at the time. But then, his coach walked up to him.
“I was sitting at my locker, and Walter Alston came by and stopped me and asked me, ‘Have you ever played first?’” Garvey recalled.
Because Garvey wasn’t that valuable to the team, the answer was “no,” but he decided to lie and say that he had played first. With Alston under the false impression that Garvey was a skilled first baseman, Garvey played alongside Ron Cey, Bill Rusell, and Davey Lopes, three of their best infielders.
This decorated Dodgers infield collected many awards for the next 8 ½ years, including four National League pennants and a 1981 World Series title.
“If we weren’t the best infield of all time, we were the most successful,” Cey wrote in his autobiography ‘Penguin Power.’ “Every member was a multi-year All-Star, we appeared in more World Series than any infield, and we won a world championship.”
Individually, Cey went to six continuous All-Star Games from 1974 to 1979. Lopes was a Gold Glove winner in 1978 and a four-time All-Star from 1978 to 1981. Russell made it to the Midsummer Classic in 1973, 1976, and 1980.
However, Garvey was an outlier. He was a four-time Gold Glove winner, won an NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1974, and appeared in eight straight All-Star Games through 1981. 1981 was also the year that the four infielders led the Dodgers to beat the New York Yankees and win their first World Series title in 16 years.
Garvey, Cey, Lopes, and Russell are among the most infamous and decorated infields in Dodgers’ history. When honored before a Dodgers game this 2023 season against the Houston Astros, they recalled their accomplishments and pride for being a major contribution to the team’s achievements.
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