Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and it’s time for our annual Dodgers Dugout Dodgers Hall of Fame voting.
Are you a true-blue fan?
Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
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? We started it last year and readers voted six people into the inaugural class. It’s time to vote again.
The way it works: Below you will see a list of candidates divided into two groups, players and nonplayers.
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 only as a Dodger. 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 six people.
To recap, you can vote for up to 12 people on the players ballot, and six on the non-players ballot, meaning you could vote for 18 people total if you desire. But no more than 12 players and six non-players.
Whoever is named on at least 65% of the ballots will be elected. The 12 players receiving the fewest votes will be dropped from future ballots for at least the next two years. Active players or active non-players are not eligible.
How do you vote? You email me at [email protected]. Send me an email with your choices, in any order (up to 12 players and up to six 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 might be included in next year’s ballot.
Before we get to the ballot, let’s review last year’s results. Last year, you needed to be named on 75% of ballots to be elected. This year, I lowered the requirement to 65% because there are so many players on the ballot.
2021 ballot results
Sandy Koufax, named on 95.6% of ballots
Vin Scully, 92.7%
Don Drysdale, 90%
Jackie Robinson, 88.9%
Roy Campanella, 84.7%
Duke Snider, 78.2%
Fernando Valenzuela, 65.8%
Gil Hodges, 65.7%
Tommy Lasorda, 64.8%
Maury Wills, 64.1%
Pee Wee Reese, 64%
Orel Hershiser, 57.1%
Walter Alston, 55.4%
Don Newcombe, 48.1%
Steve Garvey, 44.6%
Branch Rickey, 41.8%
Don Sutton, 41.4%
Mike Piazza, 30.9%
Walter O’Malley, 27.2%
Jim Gilliam, 25.1%
Zack Wheat, 22.4%
Ron Cey, 21.9%
Tommy Davis, 17.2%
Kirk Gibson, 14.4%
Manny Mota, 13.5%
Johnny Podres, 10.5%
Carl Furillo, 9.6%
Carl Erskine, 9.6%
Dazzy Vance, 8.9%
Willie Davis, 8.3%
Pedro Guerrero, 8.1%
Eric Gagné, 6.4%
Davey Lopes, 6.3%
John Roseboro, 5.8%
Ron Perranoski, 5.7%
Dusty Baker, 5.7%
Andre Ethier, 5.1%
Babe Herman, 4.9%
Mike Scioscia, 4.9%
Wes Parker, 4.5%
Red Barber, 4.3%
Eric Karros, 3.9%
Reggie Smith, 3.6%
Peter O’Malley, 3.2%
Matt Kemp, 2.9%
Bill Russell, 2.8%
Clem Labine, 2%
Leo Durocher, 1.7%
Adrián Beltré, 1.7%
Finished in the bottom 12 and dropped from at least next two ballots
Dolph Camilli, 1.6%
Charles Ebbets, 1.6%
Claude Osteen, 1.4%
Jim Brewer, 1.3%
Burleigh Grimes, 1.3%
Hideo Nomo, 1.2%
Adrián González, 1%
Ramón Martínez, 0.6%
Jeff Pfeffer, 0.6%
Jake Daubert, 0.4%
Wilbert Robinson, 0.1%
Babe Phelps, 0.0%
This year’s candidates
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, will ‘ya?!?
Dusty Baker (1976 to 1983, .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 to 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.
Ron Cey (1971 to 1982, .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 played a huge part in the team getting there each time.
Tommy Davis (1959 to 1966, .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 to 1973, .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).
Carl Erskine (1948 to 1959, 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 to 2017, .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 to 1960, .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, including the 1955 and 1959 title teams.
Eric Gagné (1999 to 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 to 1982, .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 to 1990, .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 to 1966, .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 let me 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 No. 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.
*Shawn Green (2000 to 2004, .280/.366/.510): Had five solid season in L.A. and is best known for his amazing game on May 23, 2002, when he hit four home runs, a double and a single against Milwaukee and set a record with 19 total bases on one game.
Pedro Guerrero (1978 to 1988, .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.
*Mickey Hatcher (1979 to 1980, 1987 to 1990, .272/.310/.362): On this ballot for his performance in 1988, when he was the leader of “The Stuntmen” bench players. Filling in for an injured Kirk Gibson, he hit two home runs in the World Series after hitting only one during the season. He should have been named World Series MVP.
Babe Herman (1926 to 1931, 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, general manager 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 to 1994, 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 to 1961, .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.
*Burt Hooton (1975 to 1984, 112-84, 3.14 ERA): Nicknamed “Happy” because of his stoic demeanor, Hooton was one of the best pitchers for the late ‘1970s Dodgers and finished second in 1978 Cy Young voting after going 19-10 with a 2.71 ERA. He also went 11-6 with a 2.71 ERA for the 1981 World Series champion Dodgers. He went 4-1 with an 0.82 ERA in the 1981 postseason and was named NLCS MVP.
Eric Karros (1991 to 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 to 2014, 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.
Clem Labine (1950 to 1960, 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 to 1981, .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.
*Mike Marshall (1974 to 1976, 28-29, 3.01 ERA, 42 saves): Had one of the greatest relief seasons in history in 1974, when he appeared in a record 106 games and pitched 208 1/3 innings in relief, going 15-12 with a league-leading 21 saves. He easily won the Cy Young Award and finished third in MVP voting.
*Raul Mondesi (1993 to 1999, .288/.334/.504): Was named NL Rookie of the Year after the 1994 season, in which he hit .303 with 27 doubles and 16 home runs. Hit 33 homers in 1999 and had an absolute cannon of an arm in right field, winning two Gold Glove awards. Was traded after the 1999 season for Shawn Green.
Manny Mota (1969 to 1980, 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.
*Van Lingle Mungo (1931 to 1941, 102-99, 3.41 ERA, 14 saves): Mungo averaged 16 wins per season from 1932 through 1936 and led the NL in strikeouts with 238 in 1936. He was named to the All-Star team in 1934, 1936, and 1937. In 1934, Mungo led the league in games started (38) and innings pitched (315⅓). That was the season in which Giants manager Bill Terry was asked about Brooklyn and said “Are they still in the league?” Dodgers manager Casey Stengel used that as motivation all season against the Giants. Going into the final weekend of the season, the Giants and Cardinals were tied atop the NL, with the Giants final two games against the Dodgers. Mungo started Saturday and pitched a five-hitter in a 5-1 win. He also had two singles and an RBI. The first two Giants reached base in the ninth inning and Mungo struck out Travis Jackson, George Watkins and Lefty O’Doul. Mungo always said that game was the highlight of his career.
Don Newcombe (1949 to 1951, 1954-1958, 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.
Wes Parker (1964 to 1972, .267/.351/.375): Many who saw him play will tell you that 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 pitcher‘s 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 to 1967, 54-41, 2.56 ERA, 100 saves): For all the praise (much deserved) Koufax and 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 to 1994.
Mike Piazza (1992 to 1998, .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 to 1955, 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 to 1942, 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 to 1956 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.”
*Pete Reiser (1940 to 1942, 1946-48, .206/.384/.460): Reiser missed three years (1943 to 1945) in the prime of his career because of military service. How good was he? In 1941, his first full season, he led the league in doubles, triples, batting average and slugging percentage and finished second in MVP voting. The following season he led the league in steals and finished sixth in MVP voting. On July 18, 1942, the Dodgers were playing the Cardinals. Reiser was leading the NL with a .356 batting average. In the 11th inning, Enos Slaughter hit a fly ball to deep center field. Reiser raced after it at full speed, caught the ball and slammed into the concrete wall. Reiser woke up at the hospital the next day with a fractured skull. Amazingly, he returned to the lineup on July 25 but was never the same player again, although he was still good.
*Jerry Reuss (1979 to 1987, 86-69, 3.11 ERA): Reuss finished second in Cy Young voting in 1980 after going 18-6 with a 2.50 ERA. He pitched a no-hitter against the Giants that season, with only a Bill Russell error keeping him from pitching a perfect game. In 1981, he went 10-4 with a 2.30 ERA in the strike-shortened season. He clinched the 1981 NLDS with a shutout in Game 5 and outpitched Ron Guidry in Game 5 of the World Series. He was also well-known for the pranks he pulled, frequently teaming with Jay Johnstone to drive manager Tommy Lasorda crazy.
*Preacher Roe (1948 to 1954, 93-37, 3,26 ERA, 4 saves): Elwin Charles Roe was nicknamed “Preacher” by his grandmother, who hoped he would grow up to be a preacher. His best season was 1951, when he went 22-3 with a 3.04 ERA and had career highs in victories, starts, innings, and complete games. His .880 winning percentage is still the NL record for a 20-game winner. The Sporting News named him the National League pitcher of the year.
John Roseboro (1957 to 1967, .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 to 1986, .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 Lasorda as manager of the team in 1996 and was fired in 1998 during the infamous Fox era.
Mike Scioscia (1980 to 1992, .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 to 1981, .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.
Don Sutton (1966 to 1980, 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 to 1990, 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 to 1932, 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.
*Bob Welch (1978 to 1987, 115-86, 3.14 ERA, eight saves): Welch famously struck out Reggie Jackson to save Game 2 of the 1978 World Series, then went on to become a very solid starter for the Dodgers. He was one of the first athletes to go public with his alcoholism as recounted in his excellent book, “Five O’Clock Comes Early.”
Zack Wheat (1909 to 1926, .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 t o1966, 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 for 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.
*Steve Yeager (1972 to 1985, .229/.299/.358): Yeager was one of the best defensive catchers in history who had the misfortune of being a direct contemporary of the best defensive catcher in history, Johnny Bench. Otherwise, Yeager would have multiple Gold Gloves. His best season offensively was 1977, when he .256 with 21 doubles and 16 homers. Dodger fans remember how he blocked the plate, becoming an almost impenetrable wall whenever a runner tried to score and Yeager had the ball.
Vote for no more than six. Vote here.
Walter Alston (1954 to 1976, 2,040-1,613 record, four World Series titles): Lasorda is far more famous, but you can make a solid case that 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 to 1953 and mentored a young 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.”
*Buzzie Bavasi (former general manager): In Bavasi’s 18 years as the team’s GM, the Dodgers won eight NL pennants (1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1965 and 1966) and four World Series titles (1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965).
*Fred Claire (former general manager): Replaced Al Campanis as GM just as the 1987 season was starting. Quickly built the team that won the 1988 World Series title. Worked for the Dodgers from 1969 to 1988.
*Jerry Doggett: Called games in Brooklyn and Los Angeles from 1956 to 1987, and was a key part of the memorable Vin Scully-Jerry Doggett-Ross Porter broadcasting trio.
Leo Durocher (1939 to 1946, 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 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.”
*Jaime Jarrín: The longtime Spanish language broadcaster for the Dodgers, who started with the team in 1959 and retired after the 2022 season. In 1998, Jarrín received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. In February 1998, Jarrín was the first recipient of the Southern California Broadcaster Assn.’s President’s Award. He also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year.
Tommy Lasorda (1976 to 1996, 1,599-1,439, two 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.
*Ross Porter: Dodgers broadcaster from 1977 to 2004. On Aug. 23, 1989, Porter set a major league record for broadcasting 22 straight innings on radio by himself in a six-hour, 14 minute game against the Expos in Montreal. Also hosted the postgame “Dodger Talk” on the radio for many years and contributed the “Ask Ross Porter” segment to this newsletter for several years. Currently answers reader questions at his Ross Porter Sports Facebook page.
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.
*-new to ballot this year.
Here is the ballot without comments:
Players (vote for no more than 12)
Van Lingle Mungo
Pee Wee Reese
Non-players (vote for no more than six)
How do you vote? You email me at [email protected]. Send me an email with your choices, in any order (up to 12 players and up to six nonplayers). You have until Nov. 31 to vote. Results will be announced soon after that.
Thanks for reading and taking part.
Stories you might have missed
A tribute to Sandy Koufax. Watch and listen here.