A consistent run producer, Steve Garvey had a squeaky clean image and Popeye arms. He collected 200 hits six times and drove in 100 runs five times, while solidifying the middle of the Dodgers lineup in the 1970s. He was the 1974 NL MVP and he set a National League record by playing in more than 1,200 consecutive games.
"I don't trust guys who claim they don't know their stats. Our success or failure in this business rides on our stats. Our salary rides on them, our longevity rides on them, our popularity rides on them. You've got to be a fool to say you don't know your own stats." "I'd like to play one, maybe two more seasons, as long as I can contribute to the team. I'd never go to the American League as a designated hitter. That's not me. I'm a baseball purist when it comes to that. When I can no longer play at a competent level in every facety of the game, I'll go on to something else." — Garvey in 1986
Garvey had basically the same season every year from 1974-1980, so any of those campaigns could be chosen. He was very consistent. His power fluctuated, but you could take his 200 hits to the bank.
As a teenager, Steve Garvey was a batboy for the Los Angeles Dodgers during spring training.
Garvey left the Dodgers as a free agent after the '82 season. in February of that year, LA had broken up their long-running infield when they traded Davey Lopes to the Oakland A's.
On April 16, 1983, Padres' first baseman Steve Garvey broke Billy Williams' NL record for most consecutive games played, in a game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Garvey made a modest run at Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games played streak long before Cal Ripken Jr. came into the picture. From September 3, 1975, to July 29, 1983, he played in 1,207 straight games. The streak ended when he dislocated his finger in a collision with Pascual Perez at home plate. The streak could have been about 300 games longer except for two games Garvey missed in 1975 on September 1st and 2nd, due to the flu.
Longest Consecutive Games-Played Streaks, NL
1. Steve Garvey...1,207 2. Billy Williams...1,117 3. Stan Musial...895 4. Gus Suhr...822 5. Pete Rose...745 6. Dale Murphy...740 7. Richie Ashburn...730 8. Ernie Banks...717 9. Pete Rose...678 10. Frank McCormick...652
Steve Garvey: Pros and Cons
Steve Garvey did a number of things that would seem to earn him consideration for the Hall of Fame. For example, he: Won the 1974 NL MVP. Broke the NL consecutive games played record, playing in 1,207 games - the second longest streak next to Gehrig at the time. Hit .300 seven times and finished with a .294 career average with 2,599 hits. Collected 200 hits six times in seven seasons, earning ALL-Star nods every year, including 1974 when he became the only man ever elected to start the All-Star Game as a write-in candidate. Garvey earned the MVP award in that game and later won another in the mid-summer classic. /past/pp/garveysteve/default.htmWon four Gold Glove awards and set a ML record with his .996 fielding percentage at first base. Set a NL record by playing 193 straight games without committing an error. Drove in 100 runs five times, including four straight years (1977-1980). Hit .300 or better in eight of his 11 post-season series. Hit .389 with four homers and seven RBI in the four-game 1978 NLCS win. Hit 10 home runs in the NLCS, setting a record at the time, and hit .338 with 11 homers, 31 RBI and 32 runs scored in 55 post-season contests. Delivered several clutch post-season performances, including Game Four of the 1984 NLCS when he lifted the Padres into the fifth game. Garvey drove in five runs, including the game winner. But, Garvey also had his demons, on and off the field. Here are a few of the things that keep him from Cooperstown: In the 1980s it became clear that "Mr. Dodger" was far from wholesome. Several paternity suits and a tell all book from his ex-wife tarnished his image irreparably. Where he once was considered a candidate for state or even national office, Garvey became a leper, destined to host game shows and infomercials (really). Garvey hit an empty .300 - walking between 20 and 50 times in his full seasons. That kept his OBP at a modest level. He had poor range and an even worse arm. The 193-game errorless streak is more a product of his failure to range for balls to his right than it is flawless fielding. After making the switch early in his career from third base (he committed 47 errors in one year and a month at the hot corner), Garvey refused to throw the ball. He rarely attempted the 3-4-3 DP, a refusal that drew the wrath of Lasorda and a few of his teammates. Like Ripken after him, Garvey cherished the streak. He became tentative in the field and on the base paths, gingerly protecting his chase of Gehrig. The broken hand was a fluke injury and didn't occur on a particularly aggressive slide. Unlike Ripken, Garvey was not great enough to make people think of other things besides the streak later in his career. He had the reputation as a selfish, egotistical player. The media didn't like him as much as it seemed. His "Mr. Dodger" persona was created by Dodger PR and a few well-placed friends in the press. More than a few teammates quickly tired of Garvey's habit of staying in front of the camera or microphone. In August of 1978, Garvey took offense to a comment made by teammate Don Sutton and the two men ended up wrestling their way across the visitors' clubhouse in Shea Stadium. The fight cemented a bitter feud between the two men and it damaged Garvey's reputation in the league. He aged quickly. By the time he was 31-32, his skills were rapidly diminishing. He would have benefited from a day off here and there, but he didn't do it. By the age of 34-35 he was hanging on like Pete Rose, taking up too many outs, while his slugging percentage and OBP were not good enough to justify it.
I Wonder What They Call it Now?
In the 1970s, a Los Angeles suburb renamed its' Junior High School after Steve Garvey.
NLCS MVP in 1978 and 1984, Garvey set NLCS records for homers (8) and RBI (24), doing so in 22 games...in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game Four of the 1984 NLCS he hit a two-run homer to even the series... It seems like Garvey took it very personally that he was left off the 1974 All-Star ballot. In 10 AS games he hit .393 with a slugging percentage of .955. Both figures are the highest marks for any player who had at least 20 at-bats.
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