The most decorated infield in Dodgers history started, of all things, with one small, harmless lie.
On June 23, 1973, the Dodgers were stifled in the first game of a doubleheader by the Cincinnati Reds. They lost 4-1. They recorded only seven hits. And before that day’s nightcap, manager Walter Alston looked for a way to shake up his lineup.
Utility infielder Steve Garvey was the solution.
“I was sitting at my locker,” Garvey recalled, “and Walter Alston came by and stopped me and asked me, ‘Have you ever played first?’ ”
Garvey hadn’t, not really. There was one time in Little League, another in triple A and a brief appearance off the bench 10 days earlier, following some behind-the-scenes work at the position throughout the season.
“But,” Garvey added with a grin, “I wasn’t gonna tell him.”
Instead, Garvey coolly fibbed to his manager. “Oh, sure,” he answered. Thus, that night, he lined up alongside Ron Cey, Bill Russell and Davey Lopes.
For the next 8½ years, the Dodgers’ infield rarely changed again — the quartet going on to collect a combined 21 All-Star Game appearances, four National League pennants and a memorable 1981 World Series title playing alongside one another.
“It’s one of those things in Dodger history that,” Cey said, “you don’t go back too many times over 50 years.”
Indeed, a half-century later, that Dodgers infield was honored Friday night before the team’s game against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium. The three Southern California residents of the group — Garvey, Cey and Russell — were at the stadium to throw out the first pitch and watch a pregame video tribute.
More than that, though, they relished standing alongside one another on the same field they called home for almost a decade.
“It’s just like your family,” Russell said. “We didn’t take anything for granted back then. You had to be successful to be together that long.”
That, the foursome was. Cey went to six straight All-Star Games from 1974 to 1979. Russell made the Midsummer Classic in 1973, 1976 and 1980. Lopes was a rookie of the year finalist in 1973, a Gold Glove winner in 1978, and a four-time All-Star from 1978 to 1981.
And then there was Garvey, who not only became a four-time Gold Glove winner at his adopted first base position but also won an NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1974 and appeared in eight consecutive All-Star Games through 1981 — the year the four infielders helped lead the Dodgers past the New York Yankees for the franchise’s first World Series title in 16 years.
“When you look at the accomplishments, the longevity, the contribution to the Dodger organization and baseball,” Garvey said, “all four of us have taken a lot of pride in it.”
Max Muncy not back yet
Though the Dodgers had been hoping to get Max Muncy back for the start of this weekend’s series, the third baseman was still feeling “tightness” in his hamstring, manager Dave Roberts said, and won’t be activated from the injured list until Sunday at the earliest.
“He still feels it when he goes full-speed running,” Roberts said, adding: “It’s more making sure we all feel really confident he can play and sustain health.”