Today on the Leading Off with True Blue LA podcast, we look back at pitcher Ed Vande Berg, a left-handed reliever who pitched for the Dodgers for one season, in 1986.
Vande Berg was a reliable part of the Mariners for four seasons, and was named American League rookie pitcher of the year in 1982. At the winter meetings in San Diego in December 1985, Dodgers general manager acquired Vande Berg in a trade with Seattle for 37-year-old catcher Steve Yeager.
Vande Berg’s time in Los Angeles came in an interesting time in labor relations in MLB. He avoided salary arbitration by signing a guaranteed deal with the Dodgers for $455,000, making him the second-highest-paid reliever on the team, behind closer Tom Niedenfuer. Vande Berg’s contract also included a drug-testing clause, a tactic used by many teams that winter after the Pittsburgh drug trials one year earlier exposed a cocaine problem in MLB.
In his one season with the Dodgers, Vande Berg was perfectly fine, if unspectacular, with a 3.41 ERA in 71⅓ innings. But he wasn’t used in many high-leverage situations in the second half, entering a game the Dodgers led only twice in his final 28 appearances, and was non-tendered after the season.
Vande Berg’s 1986 Topps Traded baseball card (partially seen above) included a rare use of lowercase lettering on the front, in which his last name excluded the space. The back of the card displayed Vande Berg’s name properly.
Episode link (time: 19:43)