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Davey Lopes

Davey Lopes

Position(s):
2B, 3B, CF, OF, RF, SS, DH, LF
Born:
May 3, 1945
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 9"
Weight:
170 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-22-1972 with LAN
Allstar Selections:
1978 GG

After a late start, Davey Lopes starred as the second baseman in the famous 1970s Los Angeles Dodgers' infield, adding a nice blend of speed and power. Used in the leadoff role most of his career, he was one of the best base stealers of all-time, retiring with more than 550 swipes at a success rate of 83%. When Steve Sax came along, the Dodgers discarded Lopes but he stayed in the majors for six more years, stealing 47 bases at the age of 39.


Playing Career

In a 16-season career, Lopes posted a .263 batting average with 155 home runs and 614 RBI in 1812 games.

Lopes spent nine seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers as their regular second baseman. Along with Steve Garvey (1B), Bill Russell (SS) and Ron Cey (3B), they formed the longest running infield in baseball history, which stayed together for eight and a half seasons.

Used in the leadoff role most of his career, Lopes has been one of the most effective base stealers in baseball's modern era. His 557 career stolen bases rank 25th all-time as of 2010, but his success rate of 83.01% (557 steals in only 671 attempts) ranks 3rd-best all time among players with 400 or more career stolen bases (behind Tim Raines and Willie Wilson). In 1975, Lopes stole 38 consecutive bases without getting caught, breaking a 53-year-old record set by Max Carey; Lopes' record was later broken by Vince Coleman in 1989. Lopes led the National League with 77 steals in 1975, and again with 63 the following season.

A rare blend of speed and power, Lopes hit a career-high 28 home runs in 1979, becoming one of only seven second basemen in NL history to have hit that many home runs in a season (Rogers Hornsby, Davey Johnson, Jeff Kent, Ryne Sandberg, Juan Samuel and Chase Utley are the others). He also hit 17 twice (1978 and 1983), appeared in four consecutive All-Star games from 1978–81, played in one Division Series, six NLCS and four World Series, including as a member of the 1981 World Champion Dodgers. Arguably Lopes' best World Series was against the Yankees in 1978, when he hit three home runs and seven RBIs in an emotionally-charged series.

Before the 1982 season, the Dodgers sent Lopes to the Oakland Athletics to make room for rookie second baseman Steve Sax, breaking up the longest playing infield in history who had been starters since 1974. With Oakland, Lopes teamed with Rickey Henderson to steal 158 bases, setting a new record for teammates. Henderson collected 130, Lopes 28. After that, Lopes also played with the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. Amazingly, he stole 47 bases at the age of forty and 35 at forty-one, before retiring at the end of the 1987 season.


Coaching

Following his retirement as a player, Lopes coached for several teams, including stints as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers and first base coach for the San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals. Lopes was hired as the Brewer's skipper under Bud Selig's recommendation of hiring a manager with a minority background. He initially energized the team, which featured a high-powered offense although pitching woes and Lopes's own risky style of game management led to losing seasons. Tired of the Brewers' continued poor performance and Lopes's media and field antics, club management fired him as manager after only 15 games into the 2002 season.

First-Base Coaching

Drawing upon his experience as a proficient base-stealer during his time as a player, Lopes contribution as the Phillies first-base coach has been praised by players and coaches alike. He is known for his careful observation of the opposing pitcher and how he times the pitches with a stop-watch. Runners rely heavily on his judgement when determining the optimal pitch to steal second or third base on. In each of his Lopes' three seasons with the Phillies, the team led the majors in stolen base percentage, including the best in MLB history in 2007 — 87.9% (138-for-157). They finished second or third in total steals each of those seasons.

On November 22, 2010 he was named the first base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Controversy

During a game in the 1977 NLCS, Davey Lopes was part of one of the most controversial plays in playoff history. He was called safe despite a great play by Phillies' shortstop Larry Bowa.

In 2001, Lopes was the target of another controversy following statements he made regarding stolen-base king Rickey Henderson. Managing a game for the Milwaukee Brewers, Lopes was enraged that Henderson had stolen second base in the seventh inning, while Henderson's Padres held a seven-run lead. Lopes said that this violated an unwritten rule against "showing up" the opposing team. Lopes was quoted, "He was going on his ass. We were going to drill him." Henderson withdrew from the game as a result.

Personal life

Lopes was diagnosed with prostate cancer following a routine physical in February, 2008.
Highlights

    * 4-time All-Star (1978–1981)
    * First in the All-Star Game vote (1980)
    * NL Gold Glove Award (1978)
    * Twice led NL in stolen bases (1975–76)
    * His career 557 stolen bases ranks him 24th in All-Time list
    * Ranks sixth in All-Time list with an 83.01% stolen base success rate
    * Ranks second in Dodgers history with 413 steals behind Maury Wills (490)
    * In the 1978 World Series against the Yankees, hit two home runs and drove in five runs in Game One, and added another HR in the sixth and final game.
    * Stole five bases in the 1981 NLCS
    * Stole four bases in the 1981 World Series
    * Set a NLCS record (since broken) with eight career stolen bases
    * Tied an NL record (since broken) with five stolen bases in a game (1974)
Feats

    * On August 20, 1974, Lopes set a club record (since broken by Shawn Green) with 15 total bases in a Dodgers 18-8 victory against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Lopes hit three home runs, a double and a single, as Los Angeles totaled 48 bases, also a team record.

    * In 1975, Lopes set a MLB record by stealing 38 consecutive bases without getting caught, breaking a 53-year old mark set by Max Carey. Lopes' record was broken by Vince Coleman in 1989.

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Tagged:
1981 World Series, Bill Russell, Chicago Cubs, Davey Lopes, Gold Glove, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey

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