Dodger’s Infielder Kicked Off Career With a Harmless Lie
By: Richard Zhao
Steve Garvey, an infielder for the Dodgers, started one of the most important moments in his career with a small, harmless lie.
On June 23, 1973, the Los Angeles Dodgers were suffering when playing against the Cincinnati Reds, having lost 4-1 in the first game of the two that were played that day. Trying to change things up, the manager of the Dodgers, Walter Alston, decided to edit his lineup.
Garvey was at his locker when the manager approached him. He recalled that, “Walter Alston came by and [...] asked me, ‘Have you ever played first?’” Garvey replied, “Oh, sure.” He had not ever seriously played first base. His experience with being a first baseman was limited to one time in Little League, another in triple-A, and other scattered, inconsequential games in the early years of his career.
After his little lie, he was assigned to play alongside Ron Cey, Bill Russel, and Davey Lopes. Over the following years, the group collected 21 All-Star Game appearances, four National League pennants, and a memorable 1981 World Series title. The four players turned out to be so good that the infield rarely changed again for the next 8 years. Despite Garvey’s fib about his experience, he managed to demonstrate exemplary performance. Russell commented that “You had to be successful to be together that long,” highlighting the skill that Garvey possessed.
Garvey ended up becoming a four-time Gold Glove winner, along with a National League Most Valuable Player Award in that he received in 1974. He also appeared in eight consecutive All-Star Games through 1981. Together with his three teammates, the infielders helped the Dodgers surpass the New York Yankees in performance, winning the annual championship series and acquiring the World Series award for the first time. Despite Garvey’s initial fib about his skill, he ended up being one of the most important players on the Dodgers, earning himself a rightful place among the infielders.