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Dodgers rewind: Lee Lacy

Remembering an excellent utility player from the 1970s

Yankees v Dodgers Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

This week’s Dodgers rewind is the multi-talented Lee Lacy, whose two stints with the Dodgers are dissected on today’s Leading Off with True Blue LA podcast.

Lacy was drafted by the Dodgers in 1969, and his first year in the majors came three years later. His locker was next to 36-year-old Frank Robinson, like Lacy a former graduate of the legendary McClymonds High School in Oakland.

After some early success in his first month in the majors, including sharing National League player of the week honors in his first week, Lacy told UPI, “I’ve always been a pretty good hitter. I don’t see why I can’t hit now. Hitting is a matter of confidence and concentration.”

Lee Lacy played seven seasons for the Dodgers in the 1970s. Here are his Topps baseball cards from 1974 to 1979.
Lee Lacy played seven seasons for the Dodgers in the 1970s. Here are his Topps baseball cards from 1974 to 1979.

He spent the next 16 years proving that correct.

The designated hitter was introduced in the American League in 1973, but it wasn’t used in the World Series until 1976. For the first ten years of the DH in the Fall Classic, use of the position alternated every year. In even years, the DH was used in every game of the World Series, before shifting in 1986 to use only in AL parks. Thus, the Dodgers’ first use of the designated hitter came at Dodger Stadium, in Game 1 of the 1978 World Series.

Lacy was that DH, starting at that position in four games during that Fall Classic, but his time with the Dodgers was defined by his versatility. He came up as a second baseman, but also played shortstop and third base in the minors. Lacy started getting more playing time once he added outfield into the mix in 1975. During his seven seasons with the Dodgers Lacy started games at all three outfield positions in addition to second base, and even mixed in some time at third base.

He set a major league record with home runs in three consecutive pinch-hit at-bats in 1978, a season that saw him hit five pinch-hit homers. His eight pinch home runs with the Dodgers are tied for second-most in franchise history.

After playing in three World Series with the Dodgers, Lacy moved on to the Pirates, winning a championship in his first year in Pittsburgh in 1979. He excelled with semi-regular playing time over his final nine seasons, posting a 112 OPS+ with the Pirates and Orioles.

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Episode link (time: 22:15)