On October 28, 1981, the Los Angeles Dodgers finished off the New York Yankees in the World Series, taking Game 6 in a 9-2 blowout.
It was an anticlimactic ending to a strange season, one rendered in two by a midseason strike … one featuring the first-ever across-the-board Division Series. It was a format that left the team with the game’s best record (Cincinnati Reds), and others,* on the outside looking in come October.
Still, the Los Angeles faithful were elated to have another world title, especially if it came at the expense of the Bombers.
If Dodgers fans were paying close attention, though, they might have (eventually) realized they were witness to another anticlimactic ending.
When the Dodgers came to bat for the final time in that Fall Classic, in the top of the ninth inning, they already had hold of that seven-run lead.
So, there probably wasn’t a Blue-blooded soul who gave a hang that Steve Yeager flied out to right … or that reliever Steve Howe struck out … or that leadoff man Davey Lopes did the same (struck out, that is).
And, in the bottom of the ninth, hardly anyone’s pulse blipped when Yanks leadoff man Willie Randolph walked or, when two outs later, Lopes’ error on a Reggie Jackson ground ball up the middle put two men on.
Howe got Bob Watson to fly out to center, and the Series belonged to the Dodgers.
The magnitude of those last few minutes of a tarnished baseball season would be realized just before Spring Training in 1982, though, just over three months later — again, for those who were paying attention.
Because, on February 8, 1982, the Dodgers traded Lopes to the Oakland A’s in exchange for minor leaguer Lance Hudson.
The move made room for Steve Sax at second base, and he’d reward L.A.’s faith in him by winning the ‘82 National League Rookie of the Year award.
But the move also broke up the Dodgers vaunted infield of Steve Garvey at first, Lopes at second, Ron Cey at third, and Bill Russell at shortstop.
That group had been together since Garvey took over for Bill Buckner in July of 1973, and had played a monster role in the Dodgers’ run of contention for the rest of the decade and into the 1980s.
Three division titles, four NL pennants, and that World Series title in 1981.
And then, suddenly, the Beatles were no more.
Now, bhack in those days, we didn’t have instant access to news, and certainly not to updated baseball photos in any kind of timely manner.
So, if they wanted to, Dodgers fans and collectors could have sort of pretended things were they way they used to be, the way they’d always been, through that full-blown 1982 season.
Because, all summer long, you could pull Lopes cards — showing him as a Dodger — from Fleer and Donruss and, especially, Topps, who packed their hockey-stick set with three “Dave” cards — base, In Action, and All-Star.
All of them showed Davey (or Dave) Lopes, second baseman of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But, thanks to the shiny new toy Topps had rolled out in 1981, harsh reality would come calling late that fall.
After the Dodgers lost the NL West to the Atlanta Braves … after the St. Louis Cardinals won an epic seven-game World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers … after all the postseason awards were handed out (including Sax’s ROY) came … the 1982 Topps Traded set.
There on card #64T, Davey Lopes knelt with a bat, in his unfamiliar green and gold uniform, looking off to his left.
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Maybe Lopes was pondering how he’d gone from world champ to a veteran presence on a 68-94 A’s team in just a few months.
Or maybe he was looking down the checklist to #103T, where Sax made his solo Topps debut after landing a “Future Stars” appearance in the base set.
Or … just maybe … he was watching the exodus continue as Garvey followed him out of L.A. that December — to division rival San Diego.
And as Cey left in January of 1983 — to the Chicago Cubs … where Lopes would land in 1984.
How long would Russell last with the Dodgers?
Well, through 1986, as it turned out, which just so happened to be the last season of the Cey and Lopes revival with the Cubs.
And then 1987 brought it all home, as Garvey, Lopes, and the Penguin all retired, too.
Garvey stayed with the Padres for the duration.
Lopes wound down his days on the diamond (as a player) with the Houston Astros.
Well, he played out his final games with the A’s, the same club who helped tear apart that fabled infield in the first place.
Lopes may have kept plugging along after he left LA, but he’s still forever tied with that legendary Dodgers infield, as immortalized in this eBay listing:
That’s a big, colorful 16” x 20” photo of the Dodgers fearsome foursome, signed by all.
Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).
1982 Topps Baseball Cards Complete Your Set U-Pick (#'s 401-600) Nm-Mint
| $1.59 |
End Date: Sunday 04/09/2023 20:53:02 EDT
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