this post covers the 1980 los angeles dodgers and cards numbered 175 to 183 in the set. here are the fronts:
what team is this?: the 92-71 1980 los angeles dodgers
why this team?: good question. the dodgers did force a 163rd game in 1980 thanks to their dramatic 3-game sweep of the division leading astros in the final weekend of the season (they won each game by one run), but lost in the tiebreaker game 7-1 and missed the postseason.
which players are featured?: bill russell, steve yeager, don sutton, dusty baker, jerry reuss, mickey hatcher, pedro guerrero, ron cey, and steve garvey
why these players?: these guys, with the exception of hatcher and guerrero, were all regulars on the team - 3/4 of the infield, the catcher, left fielder, and the two aces of the staff. let's break it down.
bill russell played in 130 games for the dodgers in 1980, and like many of his teammates, he was voted onto the all-star team despite having had perhaps his worst full season since 1971 (he hit just .264 with 34 runs scored and 38 driven in). russell was 0 for 2 in the midsummer classic, and found himself injured towards the end of the season and was unable to play in the series agains the astros. he was replaced in the lineup by derrel thomas and pepe frias.
steve yeager appeared in 96 games for the dodgers in 1980, but started only 66 games behind the plate. the dodgers also had joe ferguson and a young mike scioscia to handle the catcher's position that year, although yeager still started the most games of the three. at the plate, he hit .211 with a couple of home runs and 20 rbi. he made just one appearance against the astros in that final weekend series, getting a single in his lone at bat in the 8th inning of game 162.
in what would be his final season as a dodger (at least the first time around), don sutton was 13-5 with a league leading 2.20 era in 31 starts. he also had a save, which came in game 162. in that game, steve howe had pitched the 8th inning, and was allowed to bat and stay in the game after the dodgers took the lead in the bottom of the frame. he allowed a couple of singles, and with two outs and two runners on, sutton came in and coaxed denny walling to ground out to end the game. it was the fifth and final save of sutton's career.
dusty baker had a huge year in 1980. he hit 29 home runs with 97 rbi and a .294 batting average. he finished 4th in the league mvp voting, and won a silver slugger award. he welcomed nolan ryan back to the national league by hitting a home run off of the hall of famer in ryan's first start as an astro in april, and then took him deep again later in the season. i point this out because it was baker who ryan retired to seal his fifth career no-hitter in 1981. ryan held baker hitless in four at bats in game 161 - in fact, baker was just 1 for 12 in the three game series against houston, and then went 1 for 4 while scoring the dodgers' only run in game 163.
jerry reuss outdueled ryan in game 161, scattering 7 hits and a walk to get the complete game win. the win was reuss' 18th of the season, matching his career high. he led the league in shutouts with 6, pitched a no-hitter against the giants (he was a 1st inning bill russell error away from perfection), and was the winning pitcher in the all-star game. it all added up to a 2nd place finish in the cy young voting behind steve carlton.
mickey hatcher was in his second big league season in 1980, playing mostly right field and third base. he hit 1 home run with 5 rbi on the season, and saw most of his playing time come towards the end of the season. he was used in both games 161 and 162 against the astros, and then got the start at third base for the injured ron cey in game 163, going 1 for 3. the dodgers traded hatcher to the twins the following spring for ken landreaux.
pedro guerrero hit .322 for the dodgers in 1980 as the back of his card mentions. he played in just 75 games, but saw action everywhere but shortstop, on the mound, and behind the plate. he hit 7 home runs on the year, the last of which was a big extra-inning bomb that beat the giants during the series that preceded the season ending three game set against houston. in those three games, guerrero was 3 for 11 as the dodgers' center fielder. he did not play in game 163 as rick monday got the start instead.
ron cey saw his average drop to .254 in 1980, but his power numbers didn't suffer. he matched his home run total from 1979 (28) and hit more doubles than he had the previous year. cey finished behind mike schmidt in the all-star voting for third basemen, and was left off the roster even though schmidt was unable to play - probably due to the already large number of dodgers on the team. against the astros at the end of the season, it was the penguin's two-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning of game 162 that forced the one game playoff. unfortunately, cey had fouled a pitch off his foot in that at bat and was unable to play in game 163, giving hatcher the start.
steve garvey had his standard season in 1980. he hit over .300 (.304), had 200 hits (exactly), hit 26 home runs, drove in over 100 runs (106) and played in all 163 games. he finished 6th in the mvp voting and was selected to start at 1st base at the all-star game, although he went 0 for 2 in front of the home crowd. after going 5 for 12 in the final weekend series against the astros (with a big home run off of nolan ryan in the second game), garvey was 0 for 4 in the decisive game 163.
the stadium on the back is...?: dodger stadium. home of the dodgers since 1962, but it's that same photo from the 1990's (at the earliest) that is used on the card backs.
did upper deck get it right?: i realize that this team was included in the set because of the player checklist, but it doesn't really belong from a performance or 'timeless' standpoint. featuring the division winning 1980 houston astros (with nolan ryan and joe morgan, both of whom have already been featured in the set) would have made more sense, but as a dodger collector, i'm not complaining. the inclusion of hatcher over someone like davey lopes is interesting, and certainly reggie smith or bob welch would have made sense with this team.
as for the photos, the easiest way to tell if the image is from 1980 is to look at the left sleeve of the jersey. the dodgers wore round patches to commemorate the 1980 all-star game which was played at dodger stadium. mickey hatcher's card is the best, and perhaps only, example. jerry reuss has some sort of patch on his sleeve, as do baker and guerrero, but i would guess that these are from 1981 (the city of los angeles celebrated its bicentennial that year) or some other season. the other guys look to be without patches, so their photos come from years other than 1980, with sutton's early to mid 1970's photo being the most obvious.
is this team timeless?: as much as i loved watching those games over the final weekend of the season, this team is rendered somewhat meaningless due to the fact that they didn't make the playoffs and then won it all in 1981.