Dodgers Dugout: The 25 greatest Dodgers of all time, No. 15: Steve Garvey

Steve Garvey and Tommy Lasorda embrace after the Dodgers beat the Phillies in the 1977 NLCS.
(Associated Press)
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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell as we continue the top-25 countdown.

Readers voted in droves, submitting 15,212 ballots by email, Twitter and Facebook. Voters were asked for their top 10 Dodgers in order from 1 to 10, with first place receiving 12 points, second place nine points, third place eight, all the way down to one point for 10th place.

The last time we did this was in 2018, and there were some changes in the rankings.

So, without further ado:

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The 25 greatest Dodgers, No. 15: STEVE GARVEY (13,138 points)
2018 rank: 14th

One of the most beloved Dodgers while he was playing, Steve Garvey was an integral part of the longest-lasting infield in baseball history, the Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey infield, and is the only member of that infield to make the top 25.

Garvey played for the Dodgers from 1969 to 1982 and was an eight-time All-Star with the team, winning the All-Star game MVP award in 1974 and 1978. He was also named NL MVP in 1974 as the Dodgers made it to the World Series before losing to Oakland.


Garvey was drafted by the Dodgers in 1968 and made it to the big leagues one year later. He had a hard time sticking there however because he was a terrible third baseman. He had a weak arm and little range. He played 85 games at third in 1972, making 28 errors, mostly on throws.

It was more of the same in 1973, with Garvey mainly riding the bench as a pinch-hitter. On June 23 of that year, both left fielders, Von Joshua and Manny Mota, were injured. Bill Buckner, the regular first baseman, went to manager Walter Alston and suggested they put him in left and Garvey at first base (Buckner and Garvey were teammates in the minors and Buckner remembered that Garvey had played well in a few games there).

As Buckner later recounted “I never played first base for the Dodgers again.”

Although fans loved him during his tenure, Garvey was a polarizing figure among teammates, getting into a highly publicized fight with Don Sutton, and also disliked to some extent by other teammates over the years for what was described as a “phony” attitude and a perceived pandering for fan and media attention. But no one questioned his commitment and focus on the field.

Davey Lopes on Garvey: “The problem was that he was presented as better than we were. The press did that. The organization did that. Nobody can question that Garv came to play. … It was all the other stuff. It created a tension that never went away, that never eased.”

Garvey had an off year, for him, in 1982, hitting .282 with 16 homers, good for a 101 OPS+. He was a free agent after the season, but there’s no way they would let Mr. Dodger leave, right? Wrong.

“Final offers had to be made,” Garvey recounted in his book. Peter O’Malley said his final offer was $5 million for four years, no incentives. We drew the line at $6 million for four years.” Garvey signed with the San Diego Padres for five years, $6.6 million.


A lot of Dodgers fans believe Garvey should be in the Hall of Fame. With 75% needed for induction, Garvey never got higher than 42.6% of votes on the Hall of Fame ballot, back in 1995. Some fans mistakenly believe he is already in the Hall.

“I do a lot of motivational speaking, and they even introduce me as a Hall of Famer. I kind of look,” Garvey said in an interview two years ago. “I’m a little shaken. You don’t want to correct them right there. I say, ‘Thank you and still hopeful.’ But there’s a general perception that I’m in the Hall of Fame, which is very interesting.”

Although the Dodgers usually only retire the numbers of people who make the Hall of Fame as Dodgers, they did not hand out Garvey’s No. 6 after he signed with the San Diego Padres before the 1983 season until Jolbert Cabrera was given the number in 2003.


No. 16: Branch Rickey

No. 17: Walter O’Malley

No. 18: Don Sutton


No. 19: Orel Hershiser

No. 20: Mike Piazza

No. 21: Don Newcombe

No. 22: Mookie Betts

No. 23 Dazzy Vance

No. 24: Kirk Gibson


No. 25: Eric Gagné

And finally

Legends of Dodgers baseball: Steve Garvey. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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