Dodgers Dugout: Vote for our Dodgers Hall of Fame
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and there’s something new we’re doing this year, something that hopefully becomes an annual tradition.
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I get dozens of emails every season from fans who want to know why their favorite Dodger isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Which got me thinking (always a dangerous proposition), what if we had a Dodgers Dugout Dodgers Hall of Fame, as selected by the readers? So, why not? Let’s do it!
The way it works: Below you will see a list of candidates divided into two groups, players and nonplayers. This is the first ballot and voting will work similar to the actual Hall of Fame.
In the players’ category, you can vote for up to 12 players. You don’t have to vote for 12, you can vote for four, or six, or any number up to and including 12. Your vote should depend on what the player did on and off the field while with the Dodgers. The rest of his career doesn’t count, which is why you won’t see someone such as Frank Robinson listed. And you can consider the entirety of his Dodgers career, for example, Manny Mota was a good player and has spent years as a Dodgers coach and a humanitarian. You can consider all of that when you vote. And remember this is the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame, so there may be some people considerably worthy of being in a Dodgers Hall of Fame who fall short of the Baseball Hall of Fame in your mind.
In the nonplayers category, you can vote for up to three people.
Whoever is named on at least 75% of the ballot will be named to the inaugural class. The 12 players receiving the fewest votes will be dropped from future ballots for at least the next two years. Active players or active nonplayers are not eligible (Jaime Jarrin will be eligible after he retires after next season).
How do you vote? You email me at email@example.com. Send me an email with your choices, in any order (up to 12 players and up to three nonplayers). You have until Nov. 31 to vote. Results will be announced soon after that.
I tried to compile a ballot that had players representing each era of Dodgers baseball. I’m sure there’s a player or two you think should have been on the ballot. Send that player’s name along and he will be included in next year’s ballot.
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Vote for no more than 12. Vote here. Click on the player’s stats to be taken to his overall career stats. If you don’t wish to read all the comments, scroll to the bottom where you will see just a straight list of candidates without comments. But I worked hard on these, so throw me a bone, willya?!?
Dusty Baker (1976-83, .281/.343/.437): Baker is one of the most loved Dodgers since they moved to L.A. He was a very good player and part of the group of four Dodgers who hit at least 30 homers in 1977, becoming the first team to do that. Baker did it on the final day of the season, homering off of Houston ace and Dodger nemesis J.R. Richard in the sixth inning. Baker finished fourth in MVP voting in 1980, when he hit .294 with 29 homers and 97 RBIs. He hit .320 in strike-shortened 1981 and .300 in 1982.
Adrián Beltré (1998-2004, .274/.332/.463): Beltre is the best defensive third baseman the Dodgers have ever had who never seemed to click offensively — until an amazing 2004 season, when he hit .334 with 48 homers and 121 RBIs. He finished second in MVP voting that year. Sadly, that would be his last year as a Dodger, as management at the time (owner Frank McCourt and general manager Paul DePodesta) didn’t make a big effort to sign him. The Dodgers spent many years seeking an adequate replacement for Beltre, something they were never able to do until Justin Turner came along.
Jim Brewer (1964-75, 61-51, 2.62 ERA, 126 saves): Brewer pitched in 474 games with the Dodgers, fourth in team history behind Don Sutton, Don Drysdale and Kenley Jansen. He became the closer in 1968 and remained in the job through the 1973 season. He was very good, but sort of nondescript and relied on the screwball as his out pitch.
Dolph Camilli (1938-43, .270/.392/.497): Camilli was an offensive machine with the Dodgers, leading the league in homers (34) and RBIs (120) in 1941, and leading in walks in 1938 (119) and 1939 (110). He won the 1941 NL MVP award and was a two-time All-Star in his six seasons with the team. In July 1943, he was traded to the Giants but refused to play for them and instead began managing in the minors. When he was traded from the Dodgers, he was their all-time home run leader.
Roy Campanella (1948-1957, .276/.360/.500): I don’t want to lead the jury, but I would expect Campanella to make this Hall of Fame pretty easily. Campanella played with the team until his career was cut short after the 1957 season. In that time, all he did was win three NL MVP awards, make eight All-Star teams, hit 242 homers, have a .500 slugging percentage and play Gold Glove-worthy defense behind the plate.
Ron Cey (1971-82, .264/.359/.445): Cey is almost criminally underrated by those who grew up outside of L.A. He was good for 20-30 homers, 70-90 walks and 80-100 RBIs every year and played a solid third base. He was a direct contemporary of Mike Schmidt, so he often got overlooked when it came to discussing the best third basemen during his era. But the Dodgers made four World Series with Cey as the starting third baseman, and he had a huge part in the team getting there each time.
Jake Daubert (1910-18, .305/.365/.395): Daubert was named NL MVP in 1913 when he led the league with a .350 average. He also led the league with a .329 average in 1914 and led the Dodgers to their first NL pennant in 1916. He was also ahead of his time, wanting players to form a union, which is one of the reasons the Dodgers traded him to Cincinnati after the 1918 season.
Tommy Davis (1959-66, .304/.338/.441): Davis put together one of the greatest seasons in Dodgers history in 1962, when he hit .346 (leading the league) with 27 doubles, 27 homers, 120 runs scored and a league-leading 153 RBIs. He followed that up in 1963 by leading the league in hitting again with a .326 average. Those were the only two batting titles in L.A. Dodger history until Trea Turner won a title in 2021. Those seasons are even more impressive when you consider that Dodger Stadium was an extreme pitcher’s park in those days.
Willie Davis (1960-73, .279/.312/.413): Davis was an outstanding defensive player who led the NL in triples twice (1962 with 10 and 1970 with 16) and whose offensive numbers don’t look as impressive as they should because he played during one of the biggest pitcher’s eras in baseball history. His best season was probably 1969, when he hit .311 with 23 doubles, eight triples and 11 homers, or it could have been 1962, when he hit .285 with 18 doubles, 10 triples and 21 homers, or 1971, when he hit .309 with 33 doubles, 10 triples and 10 homers. He didn’t walk much and had moderate power, but he caught everything hit to him (except for that one game in the 1966 World Series, but let’s not get into that). He is still the L.A. Dodgers career leader in runs (1,004), hits (2,091) and triples (110).
Don Drysdale (1956-69, 209-166, 2.95 ERA): One of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball history. Drysdale led the league in strikeouts three times, in hit batters four times and started at least 40 games in five seasons. He won the Cy Young Award in 1962 after 25-9 with a 2.83 ERA. He also hit 26 doubles. seven triples and 29 home runs in his career.
Carl Erskine (1948-59, 122-78, 4.00 ERA): “Oisk” is what he was called, and “Oisk” was known for his big overhand curve. But what I love about Erskine is he became a staunch supporter of Jackie Robinson from the day Erskine joined the team as a rookie in 1948, one year after Robinson broke the color barrier. At one point during the 1948 season, Erskine left the clubhouse after a game to talk to Rachel Robinson and Jackie Robinson Jr. Fans filed by and stared at this white man talking to these two Black people. Some didn’t care. Some were taken aback. Some shook their head. The next day, Jackie came up to Erskine and thanked him for talking to his family in the open, which was quite a thing for a rookie to do in those days. He said, “You know, you stopped out there in front of all those fans and talked with Rachel and little Jack.” Erskine replied, “Hey Jackie, you can congratulate me on a well-pitched game, but not for that.” In 2005, he wrote a book titled “What I Learned From Jackie Robinson.”
Andre Ethier (2006-17, .285/.359/.436): On Dec. 13, 2005, the Dodgers made one of their best trades ever when they sent Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez to Oakland for Ethier, who became their starting right fielder for the next 10 seasons and put himself on many all-time top 10 lists in L.A. Dodgers history. You knew what you were going to get from Ethier every season: A .280-.290 average with about 20 homers and 80 RBIs. He was the first Dodger to have at least 30 doubles in seven consecutive seasons, made the All-Star team twice and won a Gold Glove.
Carl Furillo (1946-60, .299/.355/.458): “The Reading Rifle” led the NL in batting average at .344 in 1953, the second of his two All-Star seasons with the Dodgers. He finished sixth in MVP voting in 1949 when he hit .322 with 27 doubles, 10 triples, 18 homers and 106 RBIs. He was a good fielder with a great arm, racking up 24 assists in 1951, more than earning his nickname. He was a steady player for the Dodgers for years and played in seven World Series with the team, including the 1955 and 1959 title teams.
Eric Gagné (1999-2006, 25-21, 3.27 ERA, 161 saves): Gagne was a failed starter who came out of nowhere to seize the closing job in spring training in 2002. He converted 84 consecutive saves at one point, and few people left Dodgers games early when Gagne was the closer, because they wanted to see him pitch. He was dominant and won the Cy Young Award in 2003. Then injuries derailed him and he pitched little in 2005 and 2006. He was with the Brewers when he was named in the Mitchell Report as a player linked to human growth hormone use. His tenure ended with the Dodgers 13 years ago, but it seems like a million years ago for some reason.
Steve Garvey (1969-82, .301/.337/.459): Do I really need to write a lot about Garvey? One of the most popular Dodgers in history. But history hasn’t been kind to him, as many of the newer analytic numbers have downgraded him on offense. But, the importance of knowing every season that your first baseman was going to hit .300 with 100 RBIs can’t be overstated. He was named NL MVP in 1974 and finished in the top six in voting five times. He also made eight All-Star teams and won four Gold Gloves.
Kirk Gibson (1988-90, .264/.353/.433): There are Dodgers with better numbers not on this ballot, but he makes the list because he turned the Dodgers from losers to winners in an incredible 1988 season, when he seemed to get every clutch hit the team needed, especially when he hit that amazing pinch-hit home run in Game 1 of the World Series. It’s up to you to decide if one miraculous season is enough to make him a Dodgers Hall of Famer.
Jim Gilliam (1953-66, .265/.360/.355): It seemed that every season Jim Gilliam would be on the bench, squeezed out of the lineup by a hot rookie or flashy newcomer, then by the end of April, either the new player would be a bust or an injury would open a spot and Gilliam would end the season as the starting second baseman. Or starting third baseman. Or starting left fielder. But allow me to use this space to recount a story Vin Scully told me about Gilliam for my book: “I was introducing the team, and I would introduce, ‘So and so is the shortstop’ and so on, and I introduced Jim as ‘Jim Gilliam, baseball player.’ He was one of the smartest players. I remember Walter Alston saying that Jim never missed a sign. Never. Like anyone else, you are going to drop a ball, you are going to make an error, but Jim never made a mental mistake. And on the base paths, he’d go from first to third all the time. He always did the right thing. He was very quiet and not at all ‘on,’ but he was a consummate baseball player. He was married in St. Louis, and the team bus stopped at the reception while the photographer was taking pictures. Jim said to the photographer, ‘One more.’ The photographer took it and Jim got on the bus and we went to Busch Stadium.” The Dodgers retired Gilliam’s number, 19, shortly after he died after the 1978 season. He remains the only Dodger whose number has been retired who is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Adrián González (2012-17, .280/.339/.454): Gonzalez was a popular Dodger who led the majors in RBIs in 2014 with 116. He was the heart of the Dodgers offense for several seasons until age and injuries seemed to catch up to him at the same time.
Burleigh Grimes (1918-26, 158-121, 3.46 ERA): Grimes was extremely durable, leading the league in starts twice with the Dodgers and in complete games three times. In 1923, he made 38 starts and completed 33 of them. He threw a spitball. In 1920, the major leagues banned the spitball but allowed pitchers who were currently throwing it to continue to use it until they retired. Grimes retired in 1934, making him the last major-league pitcher to throw a legal spitball.
Pedro Guerrero (1978-88, .309/.381/.512): You can make an argument that Guerrero is the best hitter in Dodgers history. He is fifth in OPS+ and had at least 1,000 more plate appearances than the four people ahead of him on the list. He hit .320 in 1985, then blew out his knee on an ill-advised slide in spring training of 1986. He came back in 1987 to hit .338. He had power, hitting 30-plus homers three times (back when that really meant something) and had a good eye at the plate. Defensively, however, he was brutal. He was not a good fielder at third, and hated playing there, but you have to give him credit for going out there whenever he was asked.
Babe Herman (1926-31, 1945, .339/.396/.557): Herman’s best season came in 1930, when he hit .393 with 48 doubles, 11 triples, 35 homers and 130 RBIs. Tempering those numbers a bit is the fact the entire league hit .303 in 1930 and despite those lofty numbers, Herman didn’t lead the league in anything. Herman led the team in homers and RBIs in 1931 and hit for the cycle twice. In 1945, with the Dodgers in a pennant race and players scarce because of the war, GM Branch Rickey asked Herman, who had been playing in the Pacific Coast League, if he would like to return to the Dodgers. Herman, 42, said sure and hit .265 with a double, homer and nine RBIs in 34 at-bats.
Orel Hershiser (1983-94, 2000, 135-107, 3.12 ERA): In all the talk about the amazing 1988 season Hershiser had, people often overlook that he was just as good in 1989. Let’s compare the two seasons.
Category: 1988 / 1989
ERA: 2.26 / 2.31
FIP: 3.18 / 2.77
IP: 267 / 256.2
WHIP: 1.052 / 1.181
K/9IP: 6.0 / 6.2
BB/9IP: 2.5 / 2.7
The biggest difference, of course, was that 1988 was a World Series year, he had the consecutive innings streak and he went 23-8 in 1988 and 15-15 in 1989. So, 1988 is perceived as a much greater year when both seasons were almost equally great.
Gil Hodges (1943, 1947-61, .274/.360/.488): An eight-time All Star who would have won multiple Gold Gloves if they were given out when he was in his prime. Hodges drove in at least 100 runs for seven consecutive seasons and hit 30 or more homers in six seasons. His best season was probably 1954, when he hit .304 with 42 homers and 130 RBIs. He ought to be in the actual Hall of Fame.
Eric Karros (1991-2002, .268/.325/.454): Karros had an interesting career. He is the all-time L.A. Dodgers home run leader, yet rarely gets mentioned when the subject is all-time great Dodgers. He led the league in only two categories in his career (games played in 1997 and double plays grounded into in 1996). He never made an All-Star team. He was often overshadowed by Mike Piazza. But he rarely got hurt and was good for 25-30 homers every season.
Matt Kemp (2006-14, 2018, .292/.348/.494): I won’t write too much on Kemp since I assume everyone knows a lot about him. His arthritic hips robbed him of his speed, so if you know him only from his 2018 return, keep in mind that he stole 40 bases in 2011, 35 in 2008 and 34 in 2009. He also won two Gold Glove awards in his first stint with the team. He never really had a bad season with the Dodgers, it’s just that his best seasons were so good that his other seasons looked bad in comparison.
Sandy Koufax (1955-66, 165-87, 2.76 ERA): There’s nothing I can write about Koufax that you don’t already know.
Clem Labine (1950-60, 70-52, 3.63 ERA, 81 saves): Labine relied on a sinker as his main pitch, telling Peter Golenbock in the book “Bums,” “They go to swing at it, and it drops on you, and you get the top of the ball. So, you’re not gonna hit a lot of line drives off of me, just a lot of groundballs. And don’t forget who we had scooping them up: Gilly, Robinson, Reese and Cox.” Labine pitched in four games in the 1955 World Series, winning one and saving one. “Clem Labine was one of the main reasons the Dodgers won it all in 1955,” Vin Scully said after Labine died at age 80 in 2007.
Davey Lopes (1972-81, .262/.349/.380): There were certainly more prolific base stealers in baseball history, but there may have never been a better base stealer than Lopes. In 1975, he led the NL with 77 steals and was caught only 12 times. In 1976, he led with 63 steals and was caught only 10 times. At the age of 40, he stole 47 bases and was caught only four times. Admittedly, that was with the Cubs, so it doesn’t count for our purposes, but it’s my favorite Lopes stat.
Ramón Martínez (1988-98, 123-77, 3.45 ERA): Martinez had the misfortune of being the Dodgers’ ace during the 1990s, when the team failed to win a playoff game. He pitched a no-hitter and also struck out 18 batters in a game. His younger brother, Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, has talked often about how much he learned from Ramon, and when the Dodgers traded Pedro, Ramon said Pedro would end up being a better pitcher that he was. And he was right. Ramon seems to be almost forgotten in Dodgers history, but he deserves to be remembered.
Manny Mota (1969-80, 1982, .315/.374/.391): To think of Mota as only a pinch-hitter is a mistake. He hit .305 in 124 games with the Dodgers in 1970 and .323 in 118 games with the team in 1972. He made the All-Star team in 1973, when he hit .314. But pinch-hitting is what made him famous. Mota set the record (since surpassed) for most career pinch hits in 1979 when he collected his 145th. He seemed to be able to get a hit whenever he wanted to. Eighteen players have at least 100 pinch-hits in their career. Mota is the only one with a .300 average in such situations. After retiring for good as a player, he became a coach for the Dodgers and remains active in the organization to this day.
Don Newcombe (1949-51, 1954-58, 123-66, 3.51 ERA): Newcombe could have been a two-way player if the Dodgers would have let him. In 1956, he went 27-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 38 games, 36 starts and 268 innings with 15 complete games. At the plate, he hit .234 with six doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs. He won the Cy Young and MVP awards after the season. He was rookie of the year in 1949 and was the first player to win all three major baseball awards. He went 20-5 during the Dodgers’ World Series championship season in 1955. That year, he hit .259 with nine doubles, seven homers and 23 RBIs. How good a hitter was Newcombe? He pinch-hit 88 times in his career. Newcombe struggled with alcoholism for years but became sober in 1967 and worked for the Dodgers for years, helping athletes and others across the country in their struggles with sobriety. “What I have done after my baseball career and being able to help people with their lives and getting their lives back on track and they become human beings again means more to me than all the things I did in baseball,” Newcombe said in 2008.
Hideo Nomo (1995-98, 2002-04, 81-66, 3.74 ERA): Nomomania was brief, but memorable. With his tornado windup, Nomo captured Dodgers fans in 1995 when he went 13-6 with a 2.54, giving up only 124 hits in 191.1 innings and striking out 236 to lead the league. He won the rookie of the year award and finished fourth in Cy Young voting. He had a good 1996 season too, going 16-11 with a 3.19 ERA, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting again. He amazingly pitched a no-hitter in Denver. But it went downhill quickly after that. The Dodgers brought him back in 2002 as a free agent and he had two good seasons with the team before collapsing once again.
Claude Osteen (1965-73, 147-126, 3.09 ERA): Osteen is remembered best for the 1965 World Series, during his first season as a Dodger. Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax had lost Games 1 and 2, which seemed impossible, so the Dodgers turned to Osteen to right the ship against the Minnesota Twins. Osteen pitched a five-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory. Osteen became a valuable pitcher for the team but unfortunately pitched during a time when the team wasn’t as dominant. He won 20 games twice with the team and made the All-Star team three times. Here’s a good bit of trivia for you: Remember when Pete Rose barreled over Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game? That made Claude Osteen the winning pitcher.
Wes Parker (1964-72, .267/.351/.375): Many who saw him play will tell you that Wes Parker was the greatest defensive first baseman in history. He won six Gold Gloves and in 2007 was voted the best defensive first baseman since the Gold Glove award was established in 1957. His numbers on offense are also better than they appear since he played in one of the greatest pitchers’ eras in baseball history. He drove in 111 runs in 1970 despite hitting only 10 homers. He led the league that season with 47 doubles and also hit .319. Parker has been criminally underrated by many because of the era he played in and the fact he retired young, quitting after the 1972 seasons when he was only 32.
Ron Perranoski (1961-67, 54-41, 2.56 ERA, 100 saves): For all the praise (much deserved) Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale get for pitching the Dodgers to three World Series appearances and two titles in the 1960s, people sometimes overlook the fact that waiting in the wings in case one of them, or some other starter, faltered late was Perranoski. He finished fourth in MVP voting in 1963 after going 16-3 with a 1.67 ERA and 21 saves in a league-leading 69 games and led the league in games pitched three times, often pitching more than 100 innings. He later served as Dodgers pitching coach from 1981-94.
Jeff Pfeffer (1913-1921, 113-80, 2.31 ERA): Pfeffer has the second-best career ERA among Dodgers starters, minimum 700 innings pitched. And that wasn’t entirely due to the era he pitched in, as his ERA+ is third among starting pitchers on this ballot. He was a precursor to Drysdale in that he was a big man who liked to throw inside and didn’t mind hitting a batter or two. His best season was 1916, when he went 25-11 with a 1.92 ERA. Almost every season, he held out for more money, causing Dodgers management to get frustrated with him and eventually deal him to St. Louis in 1921.
Babe Phelps (1935-41, .315/.368/.477): Phelps was a three-time All-Star and a heck of a hitter. As a defender, well, Phelps was a heck of a hitter. He hit .367 in 1936, still the highest batting average by a catcher who qualified for the season title. He finished second that year to Paul Waner of Pittsburgh, who hit .373. Phelps was always considered a bit of a hypochondriac and in 1941, he refused to go on a road trip because he was worried about his heart, feeling it was skipping beats and that he might have a heart attack. The Dodgers suspended him and tried to trade him, but there were no takers. A couple of months later, the team was in a pennant race and not thrilled with the job Mickey Owen was doing as the catcher. The Dodgers wanted to bring Phelps back, but they couldn’t without Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis’ permission. Landis met with Phelps and refused to reinstate him. The Dodgers lost in the World Series, thanks in part to Owen’s infamous passed ball on a strikeout that would have ended Game 4.
Mike Piazza (1992-98, .331/.394/.572): The best-hitting catcher in baseball history was an All-Star every full season with the Dodgers and finished as the MVP runner-up two consecutive seasons. His best season was 1997, when he hit .362 with 32 doubles, 40 homers and 124 RBIs in 152 games. He wasn’t much defensively, and the less said about his trade to Florida in 1998, the better.
Johnny Podres (1953-55, 1957-66, 136-104, 3.66 ERA): Podres pitched for four of the Dodgers’ World Series title teams (1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965, though he didn’t pitch in the ’65 World Series) and was MVP of the 1955 World Series, the first title for the Dodgers, when he went 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA, good for two complete-game victories over the New York Yankees, including a 2-0 shutout in the decisive Game 7. He was often overlooked on the team, overshadowed by Koufax or Newcombe or Drysdale, but he was a key pitcher for the team for 12 years.
Pee Wee Reese (1940-42, 1946-58, .269/.366/.377): Reese is a 10-time All-Star and captain of the “Boys of Summer.” Reese drew a lot of walks, including a league-high 104 in 1946 and was frequently among the leaders in on-base percentage. He received MVP votes for 11 straight seasons from 1946-56 and was one of the first Dodgers to welcome Jackie Robinson and try to make him feel part of the team, famously putting his arm around him in front of fans before a game. Reese died in 1999. At his funeral, Joe Black, one of the first Black pitchers in the majors and a former teammate of Reese, said: “Pee Wee helped make my boyhood dream come true to play in the majors, the World Series. When Pee Wee reached out to Jackie, all of us in the Negro League smiled and said it was the first time that a white guy had accepted us. When I finally got up to Brooklyn, I went to Pee Wee and said: ‘Black people love you. When you touched Jackie, you touched all of us.’ With Pee Wee, it was No. 1 on his uniform and No. 1 in our hearts.”
Jackie Robinson (1947-56, .311/.409/.474): Forget for a moment (and it’s a big thing to ask, because we should never forget) that he broke the color barrier and all the sickening abuse he had to take. The man was a great baseball player. He was great defensively at every position he played. He was rookie of the year. He was National League MVP. He never had a bad season.
John Roseboro (1957-67, .251/.327/.382): Roseboro made five All-Star teams with the Dodgers and won two Gold Gloves. He was the starting catcher on three World Series title teams and when people mention the great Dodgers pitching staffs of the 1960s, they seldom mention who was catcher for all those great pitchers. It was Roseboro.
Bill Russell (1969-86, .263/.310/.338): Russell was a converted outfielder who went on to become one of the longest-tenured Dodgers in history, second all-time in games played for the team with 2,181, trailing Zack Wheat (2,322). If there is one word to describe Russell, it’s “steady.” He never was the best shortstop in the NL, and was never the worst. He never led the league in anything, made the All-Star team three times, seldom struck out, didn’t have a lot of power. But he went out there every day and rarely cost his team a game, and also was known among fans as the best clutch hitter on the team. He replaced Tommy Lasorda as manager of the team in 1996 and was fired in 1998 during the infamous Fox era.
Mike Scioscia (1980-92, .259/.344/.356): Scioscia was with the Dodgers for 13 seasons, never won a Gold Glove, never led the league in any offensive category and made only two All-Star teams. But what he did can’t be understated: He gave you above average play almost every season for 13 seasons. You never had to worry about the position when Scioscia was there, and he hit one of the most important home runs in Dodgers history when he connected off Dwight Gooden in Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS.
Reggie Smith (1976-81, .297/.387/.528): Reggie Jackson got the headlines, but the best Reggie in right field from 1977-78 was Reggie Smith. Which seems appropriate, because Steve Garvey got the headlines on the Dodgers even though Smith was a better player those two years, finishing fourth in MVP voting both seasons and leading the league in OB% in 1977 with an amazing .427 mark. That season, he hit .307 with 32 homers and 87 RBIs and scored 104 runs. Smith left the majors after the 1982 season and played two years in Japan. He worked for the Dodgers as a coach, was the hitting coach for the 2000 gold-medal winning U.S. baseball team and is probably best known for his youth baseball camp and the Reggie Smith Baseball Center in Encino.
Duke Snider (1947-62, .300/.384/.553): Snider is known primarily as a power hitter, but he also led the NL in runs three times, in walks once and in OB% once. He also led the league in homers in 1956 with 43 and in RBIs in 1955 with 136. He hit 40 or more homers in four consecutive seasons and it can be argued that he is the greatest player in Dodgers history. He also hit four home runs in the 1955 World Series and 11 World Series homers overall. When the Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958, injuries and the Coliseum, with its 430-foot distance to right-center, hurt his power. Snider hit only 15 homers in 1958 and 23 in 1959. He then became a part-time player, but is the first Dodger to get a hit in Dodger Stadium.
Don Sutton (1966-80, 1988, 233-181, 3.09 ERA): “My mother used to worry about my imaginary friends ’cause I would be out in the yard playing ball,” Sutton said in his Hall of Fame induction speech in 1998. “She worried because she didn’t know a Mickey, or a Whitey, or a Yogi, or a Moose, or an Elston, but I played with them every day.” Sutton was an amazingly durable pitcher. You knew he was going to make 30 to 35 starts every season and win 15 to 20 games. While that’s easy to dismiss, not many pitchers in history have been able to do that year after year. Sutton did.
Fernando Valenzuela (1981-90, 141-116, 3.31 ERA): It’s hard to explain to some fans today exactly how much Fernando meant to the city, and the excitement he brought to the stadium when he pitched. There may not be a more loved player in Dodgers history, and he brought in a legion of Latino fans to the stadium, fans who remain dedicated to the team to this day. I was attending Carnegie Junior High in Carson when he first started pitching, and every student there, no matter what race they were, was talking about him and several of us would cut school during the playoffs to listen to the Dodgers on the radio.
Dazzy Vance (1922-32, 1935, 3.17 ERA): Vance was the first true ace the Dodgers had and is still one of the greatest pitchers in their history. He led the league in wins twice, in ERA three times and in strikeouts seven consecutive seasons. Vance’s actual first name was Arthur, but he was called Dazzy because of his dazzling fastball.
Zack Wheat (1909-26, .317/.367/.450): The most unappreciated great player in Dodger history. Wheat was just relentless at the plate, hitting over .300 every year with mid-range power. He hit .375 in 1923 and 1924. He is still the team’s all-time leader in several offensive categories. He was beloved in Brooklyn and served as a mentor for several young Dodgers, including future manager Casey Stengel. “I never knew him to refuse help to another player, were he a Dodger or even a Giant,” Stengel said. “And I never saw him really angry and I never heard him use cuss words.”
Maury Wills (1959-66, 1969-72, .281/.331/.332): Another former Dodger who should be in the actual Hall of Fame, Wills is the man who had the biggest influence on making the stolen base a weapon. Wills led the league in steals six consecutive seasons, including a then-record 104 in 1962 (with only 13 times caught stealing). He won the MVP award that year and finished third in 1965, when he stole 94 bases. Was he just an average hitter? Yes. Was he a defensive whiz? Not a whiz, but he did win two Gold Gloves. And, if you will allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment ... I understand why modern analytics tell us that the stolen base is often not worth the risk. I understand why, from a logical point of view, you don’t want guys stealing 20 bases and getting caught 10 times, because the 20 times you pick up an extra base isn’t worth the 10 times you lose the runner entirely. But speaking from a fan standpoint: There are few things more exciting in baseball than having a guy on first who you know can steal second. Every pitch becomes a focus, as fans wonder if he’s going now or going to wait. Now, a guy gets on first, you know he’s not going anywhere. Wills made the game exciting, and in the haste to make everything about the game analytical, some of that excitement is being stripped from the game.
Vote for no more than three
Walter Alston (1954-76, 2,040-1,613 W-L record, 4 World Series titles): Tommy Lasorda is far more famous, but you can make a solid case that Walter Alston is the greatest manager in Dodgers history. Alston began managing the Dodgers in 1954 when they were still in Brooklyn, and remained manager until 1976, winning seven NL pennants (1955, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974) and four World Series titles, (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965), three of them in Los Angeles. Alston was named NL manager of the year six times before retiring.
Red Barber: Barber was a Dodgers broadcaster from 1939-53 and mentored a young Vin Scully. His folksy style and catchphrases made him one of the most famous announcers in the U.S. Among his phrases: “They’re tearin’ up the pea patch,” “Can of corn,” “Sittin’ in the catbird seat,” “Tighter than a new pair of shoes on a rainy day.”
Leo Durocher (1939-46, 1948, 738-565): Durocher was a fiery presence, always willing to pick a fight to spur his team to action. In 1947, some Dodgers players circulated a petition asking management not to put Jackie Robinson on the team. The team was training in Cuba when Durocher found out about the petition around midnight. He immediately called a team meeting and told the players what they could do with their petition. “I don’t care if he is yellow or black or has stripes like a … zebra. I’m his manager and I say he plays.”
Charles Ebbets (owned Dodgers from 1898-1925): Some of the innovations of Ebbets: Ladies Day in 1899, lengthening the schedule from 140 games to 154 in 1904, separate batting and fielding practices for the teams competing each day, separate dressing rooms, the “rain check” in 1911, which allowed fans to come back to a future game if the current one was rained out. The 2-3-2 format for the World Series.
Tommy Lasorda (1976-96, 1,599-1,439, 2 WS titles): Do I really need to explain who Lasorda is?
Peter O’Malley (former team owner): O’Malley was team president starting in 1970 and became team owner in 1979 until he sold the Dodgers in 1998. Many fans consider the Peter O’Malley era to be the golden age for the L.A. Dodgers.
Walter O’Malley (former team owner): He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. In 1999, the Sporting News named O’Malley the 11th most powerful person in sports in the last century, while ABC Sports ranked him in its top-10 most influential people “off the field” in sports history.
Branch Rickey: Rickey became president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942, succeeding Larry MacPhail, who had left the team to serve in World War II. Rickey had just spent 23 years as GM of the St. Louis Cardinals, building them into one of baseball’s top powerhouses and inventing the farm system of baseball teams. But let’s face it, Rickey is on this list mainly for one reason: He was the man who decided it was time to break baseball’s color barrier. Rickey searched for the right man, with the right temperament, to do this job, and he settled on Jackie Robinson. And it proved to be a wise choice.
Wilbert Robinson (1914-31, 1,375-1,341): Robinson managed the Dodgers to two NL pennants and the team was so identified with him at the time that they were called the Brooklyn Robins for a while in his honor. In 1915, famous woman aviator Ruth Law was near the team’s spring training camp in Daytona Beach, Fla., and getting a lot of publicity for dropping golf balls from her plane on a nearby golf course. The Dodgers saw a chance to get in on this publicity and asked her if she would drop a baseball from her plane to a player down below, who would catch the ball. She said sure, but no player would volunteer to do it. Robinson, wanting to show his players they need to be tougher, said he’d do it. When the time came, Law realized she forgot to bring the baseball with her, but she did have a grapefruit (don’t ask me why). So, she dropped that instead. Robinson got the grapefruit, which exploded the moment it hit his mitt. Robinson was convinced the pulp covering him was his innards and that he was seriously injured. He called for help. Players rushed to his side, and once everyone figured out what had happened, he never lived it down. Robinson died in 1934 after falling in a bathroom and striking his head on the bathtub. He was 70.
Vin Scully: The voice of the Dodgers for 67 years.
Reminder: In the players category, you can vote for up to 12 players. You don’t have to vote for 12, you can vote for four, or six, or any number up to and including 12. Your vote should depend on what the player did on and off the field while with the Dodgers. The rest of his career doesn’t count. And you can consider the entirety of his Dodgers career, for example, Manny Mota was a good player and has spent years as a Dodgers coach and a humanitarian. You can consider all of that when you vote.
In the nonplayers category, you can vote for up the three people.
Here’s the players ballot without comments:
Pee Wee Reese
How do you vote? You email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me your ballot (up to 12 players and up to three non-players). You have until Nov. 31 to vote. Results will be announced soon after that.
Thanks for reading and taking part.
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