Garvey takes one last shot at Hall
Former Dodger, Padre on BBWAA Ballot for final time
LOS ANGELES -- Steve Garvey had three more All-Star appearances than Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda. His career batting average was 15 points higher than Hall of Famer Tony Perez. He won more Gold Gloves than any first baseman in the Hall of Fame.
But Garvey, who became the most popular Dodger since Sandy Koufax and emerged as the cornerstone of the franchise's powerhouse teams of the 1970s, is not in the Hall of Fame.
Garvey's name is on the current BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for the 15th and final year. His highest vote total percentage was 42% in 1995. A candidate must get 75% of the vote to gain election. Results of the 2007 BBWAA Hall of Fame election will be announced on Jan. 9, and the Induction Ceremony will take place on July 29 in Cooperstown.
A former Michigan State football star whose father drove the Dodgers team bus during Spring Training, Garvey was forced to move across the diamond from third base because of a wild throwing arm and became a first-base fixture on the longest-running infield in history.
He was elected to the 1974 All-Star team as a write-in candidate, was MVP of that game and went on to be MVP in the National League that year, the first of four Dodgers World Series appearances. He later helped take the San Diego Padres to their first World Series.
"Steve Garvey is a Hall of Famer in all ways, as far as I'm concerned," said Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, who managed Garvey in the Major and Minor Leagues. "He exemplified the words 'role model,' he was a great hitter, a great ballplayer."
He played 19 Major League seasons, the first 13 in Los Angeles, the last six in San Diego. He is probably best known for his streak of 1,207 consecutive games played, a National League record, but his most memorable Padres homer helped put his team into the 1984 World Series.
His greatest year was 1974, when he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award and made his first of five World Series appearances. But he also finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting four other times, including a runner-up finish to Dave Parker in 1978.
Garvey played in one Division Series and five LCS in addition to the five World Series and -- with the possible exception of Koufax -- no Dodger excelled in the limelight better.
He was named MVP of the 1978 and 1984 NLCS and holds the NLCS career record for home runs (eight) and RBIs (21). He was a 10-time All-Star, including eight consecutively. He was the All-Star MVP twice (1974, 1978) and holds the All-Star Game record for most appearances at first base with 10. He hit .356 in 90 NLCS at-bats, .319 in 113 World Series at-bats and .393 in 28 All-Star Game at-bats.
Offensively, Garvey was a hitting machine who led the National League in base hits twice. He hit .300 seven times, had 20 or more home runs six times, 100 or more RBIs five times and 30 or more doubles seven times.
Defensively, Garvey was such a liability as a Minor Leaguer that the Dodgers tried him at third base and the outfield before he finally settled at first base to hide an erratic throwing arm.
Nonetheless, he became a short-hop specialist and went on to win four consecutive Gold Gloves. He holds Major League records among first basemen for 159 consecutive errorless games in a season and 193 consecutive errorless games in a career. He led National League first basemen in putouts six times, fielding average five times, total chances five times and double plays once.
Despite his popularity (he was voted onto the 1974 All-Star starting lineup as a write-in candidate) and consistency (he along with Ron Cey, Bill Russell and Davey Lopes made up the longest-running infield in history at 8 1/2 seasons), detractors for his Hall of Fame candidacy point out that he is on the short side of 3,000 hits (he had 2,599) and 400 home runs (he hit 272).
He received 106 votes last year (20.5 percent), 11th in the totals. Garvey now runs a television development company and does community relations work for the Dodgers.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.