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Steve Garvey: Made For The All-Star Game

Steve Garvey had quite a run in the All-Star Game (<em>Getty Images</em>)
Steve Garvey had quite a run in the All-Star Game (Getty Images)

With the news last night of Steve Garvey getting fired by the Dodgers, today's memorable All-Star moment brings us to what might be the most unlikely. Beginning the 1974 season, Garvey was a 25-year old who had never had more than 366 plate appearances in a season. In 1971 and 1972, Garvey played third base most often, when he played, but by 1973 he was almost exclusively a first baseman. Garvey didn't play an inning of third base in 1973, but his 1974 Topps baseball card still listed him as "3B-1B."

Garvey started 64 of the final 76 games at first base in 1973. It was the start of The Infield™ (Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Ron Cey), though who could have predicted an eight and a half year run at the time? Even with Garvey's role as first baseman seemingly secure heading into 1974, he was left off the All-Star ballot entirely.

This became a problem when, by the end of May, Garvey was hitting .338/.367/.574 with 11 home runs and 46 RBI in 49 games. A campaign was formed to write Garvey's name into the ballot, and most of Los Angeles obliged. The write-in plan had worked once before, in 1970, when Atlanta outfielder Rico Carty was voted into the National League starting lineup despite not being on the ballot.

Garvey was voted as the NL starter at first base for the 1974 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, and he batted sixth in the lineup, in between teammates Jimmy Wynn and Ron Cey, who were voted in conventionally. In the second inning, Garvey singled off Gaylord Perry and scored on a double by Cey. In the fourth inning, Garvey doubled off Luis Tiant, driving in Wynn to tie the game. The National League would go on to win 7-2, and Garvey's two hits were enough for him to garner MVP honors.

In addition to winning All-Star MVP honors in 1974, Garvey had the following memorable All-Star moments:

  • In 1975, Garvey homered and was followed by teammate Jimmy Wynn with another home run, the only time teammates have hit home runs back-to-back in an All-Star game.
  • Garvey homered again in the 1977 game. He and Mike Piazza are the only Dodgers with more than one All-Star home run.
  • Garvey's All-Star MVP in 1978 was his second, and also followed Don Sutton's MVP honors in the 1977 All-Star Game. Sutton and Garvey are one of two teammates to win back-to-back All-Star MVPs, joining Willies Mays (in 1968) and McCovey (in 1969) for San Francisco.
  • Garvey scored exactly one run in each of his first six All-Star games, from 1974-1979. No player in All-Star history has ever had that long a streak of consecutive games with at least one run scored.
  • Garvey drove in at least one run in each of his first five All-Star games, from 1974-1978. No player in All-Star history has ever had that long a streak of consecutive games with at least one RBI.
  • Garvey made the All-Star team eight times as a Dodger (and two more times as a Padre), and his seven starts are the most in franchise history, two more than his closest competitors, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, and Don Drysdale.

Garvey would also win league MVP honors in 1974, collecting 200 hits (the first of six times Garvey would do so) and driving in 111 runs while hitting .312/.342/.469 for a Dodger team that won 108 games. In his eight All-Star Games as a Dodger, Garvey was 9-for-22 with two doubles, two triples, and two home runs, hitting .409/.458/.955.