Sunday, April 4, 2021

I Love The 80s - 1982 Los Angeles Dodgers

This is a series of posts on a 1980's Frankenset. Each page features a different team, with 9 of my personal favorite cards from that year's team. You might find players repeated, you'll definitely see brands repeated, but hopefully you'll agree that there are some interesting selections from the 1980s!

In 1981, the Dodgers climbed to the top of the NL West and then toppled Houston, Montreal, and finally the Yankees to win the World Series in six games. Southern California was enthralled in "Fernandomania" - the Rookie left hander threw a shutout on Opening Day and never looked back. The entire starting rotation had winning records, and each had at least 1 shutout on the season.

The following season was very good, just not as good as 1981. They would finish in 2nd place in the NL West, just 1 game behind the division winners. The rotation was a little top heavy in 82, but still excellent. The team also ranked 4th in the NL in Runs Scored. making for a balanced and formidable roster. Manager Tommy Lasorda was in just his 5th season as the team's skipper, but had already led the team to 3 NL pennants, and narrowly missed in 1980 (after a 1 game playoff) and was just one game short in 1982. 

The Cards

Topps #642 Mike Scioscia - 1982 saw growing pains for Scioscia, who was now the primary catcher after supplanting Steve Yeager. It was Scioscia's worst offensive season, slashing .219/.302/.296 for an OPS+ of just 80. But the season provided great experience for the young backstop as he learned the finer points of the game and the demanding position of catcher. He tore his rotator cuff and missed most of the 1983 season, but came back to spend the rest of his playing career as the Dodgers #1 catcher. The 2 time All-Star also had a long and productive managerial career with the Angels, including a 2002 World Series win.

Fleer #25 Rick Sutcliffe - The 1982 squad definitely missed the arm of Rick Sutcliffe, who was traded to Cleveland the prior December. Sutcliffe won the AL ERA title in 1982, and had a 14-8 record. Despite winning the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1979, Sutcliffe and manager Tommy Lasorda famously did not get along well. during the 1980 and 81 seasons, Sutcliffe's role on the team diminished and ultimately led to his trade. He was one of the better starting pitchers of the 1980s, including winning the NL Cy Young in 1984, and finishing his career with 171 victories. The 3 time All-Star had the reputation of being a very good hitting pitcher, thanks in no small part to his home run in Game 1 of the 1984 NLCS. 

Topps #410 Ron Cey - It would be his final season in Los Angeles in 1982, but Cey was not resting on his laurels. In '81, the season concluded with Cey and the Dodgers as World Champions. Cey was the Co-MVP for the World Series. Cey still showed he had excellent range at 3rd base, even at age 34 in 1982. He ranked in the top 5 in most defensive categories in the NL that season. Cey was a 6 time All-star, making the NL squad every year from 1974 through 1979. 

Topps #375 Dusty Baker - A baseball lifer, Baker has been part of more than a few of the game's biggest moments for the last 5 decades. Baker was on the receiving end of the world's first official "high five" from Glenn Burke. He was in the on deck circle when Hank Aaron hit home run #715.  He was MVP of the 1977 NLCS, and had a good case for repeating as NLCS MVP again in 1978, going 4-5 in the deciding victory. Later, as a Manager, he'd lead the Giants to a World Series appearance (facing his old teammate Mike Scioscia), then Managed the Cubs during the infamous "Steve Bartman" incident. Baker returned to coaching in 2020 and despite a regular season record below .500, led the Astros all the way to the ALCS. 

Fleer #27 Fernando Valenzuela -  His rookie season of 1981 was a tough act to follow, but Valenzuela had a terrific sophomore season with the Dodgers. Already the established ace of the rotation, Valenzuela won 19 games, and appeared in the 2nd of what would become 6 straight All-Star games. His 8 shutouts in 1981 were a rookie record, one that will be very tough to beat now. Valenzuela would miss the post season in 1988, but was a maintstay in the Dodgers rotation throughout the 80s. He performed very well in the post season, with a career ERA of 1.98 over 63 and 2/3 innings. Valenzuela could hit as well, with 10 career homers and a .200 average, quite good for the limited at bats for a pitcher. 

Donruss #84 Steve Garvey - The 1982 season was a "last hurrah" for several key members of the Dodgers of the 1970s. That included Steve Garvey, who would sign as a free agent with the Padres following that year. Garvey was the modern "Iron Horse," having played in the most consecutive games among active players. The streak was also marked with excellent offensive production - Garvey was a career .301 hitter with the Dodgers over his first 14 MLB seasons. The well rounded Garvey was the 1974 NL MVP, was a 4 time Gold Glove winner and a 10 time All-Star. He was named MVP of the All-Star Game twice. He is often the subject of discussion as one of the best players that are not inducted in the Hall of Fame.

Topps #545 Reggie Smith - Reggie formed a powerful nucleus of hitters along with Garvey, Cey, and Baker. In 1977, all 4 players hit at least 30 homers, the first time in MLB history that 4 teammates all reached that milestone in the same season. By 1982, Smith was a 17 year veteran in his final MLB season. Smith spent 1982 with Giants, and had a bounceback from a disappointing 1981 campaign in which he hit just .200 for the Dodgers in 41 games. Smith's career began in Boston, where he teamed with Yaz and the rest of the "Impossible Dreamers" for the 1967 team that captured the AL pennant in dramatic fashion. He was the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up, and hit a pair of homers in the '67 World Series against the Cardinals. The 4th World Series appearance for Reggie was the charm, making just a pair of plate appearances in the series, but sharing in the success of the 1981 Dodgers. Reggie is criminally underrated, finishing his career with a 137 OPS+, as well as displaying excellent defense throughout his 17 MLB seasons. His counting stat totals place him squarely in the Hall of "Very Good," over 2,000 hits, 314 homers, over 1,100 runs scored and over 1,000 career RBI.

Fleer #29 Steve Yeager - Yeager had the Catching job in 1981, lost it to Mike Scioscia, then won it back in 1983 when Scioscia tore his rotator cuff. A career .228 hitter, Yeager provided power and defense behind the plate. His offensive improved in the post season, where he hit .254 and slugged .449, which was nearly 100 points higher than his career regular season slugging mark. In World Series play, he slashed .298/.323/.579 over 4 trips to the fall classic.  His 2 homers in the 1981 World Series helped him to a share of the MVP award with Ron Cey. He had an excellent arm as well, twice leading the NL in caught stealing pct. Fun fact - his cousin is the famous test pilot Chuck Yeager, who was the first person to have broken the sound barrier in flight. 

Topps #338 Dave Lopes - Davey left the Dodgers following the 1981 World Series win, traded just before the season began in 1982 to Oakland. His 1981 season was a rough one, playing in just 58 games and hitting a career low .206. A late addition to the 1984 Cubs roster, and a deadline acquisition of the Astros in 1986, Lopes played in the NLCS six times in his career, and five times in the World Series (4 of those coming with the Dodgers, of course). Lopes was known as a speed threat, leading the NL in stolen bases in 1975 and 76, as well as compiling 556 steals over his 16 year career. Along with Garvey, Cey, and Bill Russell, Lopes formed the longest lasting intact infield in MLB history. The group appeared together in same lineup and same infield for roughly 10 straight seasons.

What is your favorite card of a Dodgers Player from 1982? Doesn't have to be one of these...

Thanks for reading!


  1. My first thought about seeing the cards you chose was that so many of those guys were gone or in their last year with the club in 1982. It's tough but I think my favorite 1982 dodger card is the kmart don drysdale card. It seemed like a bonus card in a set focused on mvps.

    1. One last ride into the sunset- I wonder if it would have made a difference if they had won the pennant again in 82. Maybe one or more of those guys would have come back.

  2. Replies
    1. That's a good one - I have been neglecting Diamond Kings in this series, I might need to make more of an effort to include them for 83 and beyond.

  3. Of the cards there, the Scioscia is my favorite.

    I also like the '82 Topps Dave Stewart and the '82 Fleer Steve Howe with the kids in the background. As gcrl alluded to, '82 was a tough year. It started to be all about the young kids as the veterans were on their way out.

    1. Steve Howe's card eluded me for this project, just looked it up, it is a good one!

  4. Another fun fact about Steve Yeager is that he is an Indians coach in Major League 1 & 2

  5. I like the Reggie Smith. My favorite might be the other Fernando card in the 82 Fleer set that shows his "look to the sky" pose in his windup.

    1. I originally had Fernando's "record breakers" Topps card in that spot, but decided to take one more peek through my 82 stack and found the Fleer version to replace it with.

  6. I'd go with that Scioscia. Nice action shot... with him tossing off his mask.