Dodgers Dugout: Davey Lopes calls it a career
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and now that the NFL season is over, we can turn our attention to more important matters — like how will the Dodgers break our hearts this season?
Davey calls it a career
Former Dodgers second baseman Davey Lopes quietly retired during this offseason, announcing the news on an episode of the MLB.com Newsmakers podcast.
“I’m not doing much. I’m retired, taking it easy,” said Lopes, who last worked for the Nationals as a first-base coach in 2017. “It was not a difficult decision to make, but one I was kind of hesitant to make. But it all works out. I got the opportunity to play, manage or coach for a long, long time. I’m extremely thankful. I was one of the lucky ones in the big leagues for 45 straight years. That’s a long time. I have no complaints.”
Lopes played for the Dodgers from 1972-81 and coached for them from 2011-15.
Here’s what I best remember about Lopes, who has drawn a few votes in the balloting for top 10 Dodgers of all time. Not only was he a great base stealer, he was the best at the lost art of the leadoff man stalling after the pitcher makes an out, giving the pitcher more time to rest in the dugout.
It usually happened like this: Someone such as Don Sutton would hit a slow roller to second and would hustle up the line. The second baseman would throw him out, but Sutton would have used a lot of energy in the process.
Lopes was a magician at wasting time to give Sutton a chance to towel off and cool down a bit. Especially if there were two out. Lopes would spend a moment or two extra in the on-deck circle. Then he would have trouble getting the round weight off his bat. Then he would slowly walk to the batter’s box.
Once there, he would return to the on-deck circle to rub a little more pine tar on the handle. Then he would return to the batter’s box and take his time digging in. Then he would take a pitch or two.
It was really fun to watch.
More than that though, Lopes was a key member of four Dodgers World Series team, in 1974, 1977, 1978 and 1981. He finished tied for sixth (with Ron Cey and Johnny Grubb) in Rookie of the Year voting in 1973, was a four time all-star and won a Gold Glove in 1978.
An argument can be made that Lopes is the best base stealer of all time. He finished his career with 557 steals, which is now 26th all-time. Of the 36 players with at least 400 stolen bases, Lopes ranks third all-time in stolen-base percentage, at 83%, trailing Tim Raines (84.7%) and Willie Wilson (83.3%). In 1985, when Lopes was 40 years old and playing for the Chicago Cubs, he stole 47 bases and was caught only four times.
Lopes is second all-time in Dodgers history, with 418 steals, trailing only Maury Wills, who had 490.
So, best wishes to Davey Lopes in retirement. Dodgers fans everywhere salute you.
The greatest of all time
I asked you to send me your picks for the 10 greatest Dodgers of all time, and you certainly responded. The ballots are in. All 8,323 of them. Soon, I will count down the top 25 vote-getters. (I’m still counting the ballots, so give me until next Monday.)
But I have a question for you. There are a couple of ways to count them down. I can do one per regularly scheduled newsletter, or I can send out a special newsletter each weekday with the countdown. Which would you prefer? Two a week, or five a week? Email me and let me know.
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