|Born: December 22, 1948|
|September 1, 1969, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 23, 1987, for the San Diego Padres|
|Runs batted in||1,308|
|Career highlights and awards|
Steven Patrick Garvey (born December 22, 1948) is an American former professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres from 1969 to 1987. Garvey was the 1974 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, a two-time National League Championship Series MVP (1978 and 1984), and a 10-time All-Star. He holds the National League record for consecutive games played (1,207).
Garvey was born in Tampa, Florida to parents who had recently relocated from Long Island, New York. From 1956 to 1961, Garvey was a bat boy for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers during spring training.
Michigan State University
After graduating from Chamberlain High School, Garvey played football and baseball at Michigan State University. Garvey credited Spartan head football coach Duffy Daugherty encouraging him to be a multi-sport athlete in his choosing MSU. He recorded 30 tackles and earned a letter as a defensive back in 1967. His first at-bat in a Spartan uniform resulted in a grand-slam home run, with the ball landing in the Red Cedar River. He was named Michigan State Baseball Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2009, he was inducted into the Michigan State University Hall of Fame in 2010, and his baseball jersey number 10 was retired from Michigan State University in 2014.
Major League Baseball career
Los Angeles Dodgers
Garvey was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1st round of the 1968 MLB draft (June secondary phase). He made his Major League debut on September 1, 1969 at the age of 20. He appeared in the 7th inning to pinch hit for Ray Lamb and struck out in his one appearance at the plate. He had two more plate appearances in 1969 as a pinch hitter and recorded his first hit on September 10, off Denny Lemaster of the Houston Astros. He played third base for the Dodgers in 1970 and hit his first home run on July 21, 1970, off Carl Morton of the Montreal Expos. He moved to first base in 1973 after the retirement of Wes Parker.
Garvey was part of one of the most enduring infields in baseball history, along with third baseman Ron Cey, shortstop Bill Russell, and second baseman Davey Lopes. The four infielders stayed together as the Dodgers' starters for eight and a half years.
Garvey is one of only two players to have started an All-Star Game as a write-in vote, doing so in 1974. That year, he won the NL MVP award and had the first of six 200-hit seasons. In the 1978 National League Championship Series, which the Dodgers won over the Philadelphia Phillies, Garvey hit four home runs and added a triple for five extra base hits, both marks tying Bob Robertson's 1971 NLCS record and earning him the League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award; Jeffrey Leonard would tie the NLCS home run record in the 1987 NLCS.
Garvey's cheerful personality, his availability with reporters, and his willingness to sign autographs for fans made him a very popular player, and the Dodgers took advantage of this, making him one of the main focuses of their public relations campaigns. This caused friction with some of his Dodger teammates, such as Cey and Lopes, who thought Garvey was only acting this way to get endorsement opportunities. Cey, Lopes, and another unnamed player criticized Garvey in a mid-June 1976 San Bernadino Sun-Telegram article, which prompted manager Walter Alston to call a team meeting. At this meeting, Garvey said, "If anyone has anything to say about me, I want it said to my face, here and now." No one said anything. Tommy John thought it was at this point that Alston, who retired at the end of the year, began to lose control of the team.
Late in the 1978 season, the rift resurfaced when Don Sutton criticized Garvey for being the only Dodger to get publicity, insisting that Reggie Smith was a better player. The day after the article appeared, Garvey confronted Sutton with a copy of it in the locker room of Shea Stadium, where the Dodgers were for a series against the New York Mets. When Sutton affirmed that the quotes were his, the two got into a brawl. Garvey threw Sutton into Tommy John's locker, causing 96 baseballs John had been signing to fall out. Neither was hurt, though, and the two managed to overcome their feud, making sure they were the first to congratulate each other on the field for the rest of the year.
With the Dodgers, Garvey played in 1,727 games over 14 seasons and hit .301 with 211 homers and 992 RBI. He was selected to eight All-Star Games and won the All-Star Game MVP Award for the 1974 and 1978 games. He also won four straight Gold Glove Awards from 1974 to 1977, won the 1981 Roberto Clemente Award, and finished in the top 10 in the NL MVP Award voting five times.
San Diego Padres
In December 1982, Garvey signed with the Padres for $6.6 million over five years in what some felt was a "masterstroke" to General Manager Jack McKeon's effort to rebuild the team. Though San Diego had vastly outbid the Dodgers, McKeon noted Garvey's value in providing a role model for younger players. Additionally, Garvey's "box office appeal"—his impending departure from the Dodgers provoked some Girl Scouts to picket the stadium—helped San Diego increase its season ticket sales by 6,000 seats in Garvey's first year. Sports Illustrated ranked the signing as the 15th best free agent signing ever as of 2008.
His first season in San Diego allowed him to break the National League record for consecutive games played, a feat that landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated as baseball's "Iron Man". In an unusual homecoming, Garvey tied the record in his first appearance back at Dodger Stadium in Padre brown. For breaking the record, he was named the National League Player of the Week. The streak ended at 1207 consecutive games played (from September 3, 1975, to July 29, 1983) when he broke his thumb in a collision at home plate against the Atlanta Braves. It is the fourth-longest such streak in Major League Baseball history.
It was Garvey's second season in San Diego, however, that would be his highlight in a Padres uniform. In 1984, Garvey became the only first baseman in MLB history to commit no errors while playing 150 or more games. He handled 1,319 total chances (1,232 putouts and 87 assists) flawlessly in 159 games for the Padres.
Led by Garvey, winning his second National League Championship Series MVP award, the Padres won their first National League pennant over the Chicago Cubs in 1984. Game 4 provided a particularly notable effort by Garvey. His hot bat provided insurance for the top of the order, including future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who drew an intentional walk that Garvey converted into one of his four crucial RBI. After getting hits in the third, fifth, and seventh innings, Garvey capped off his efforts with a two-run walk-off home run off Lee Smith in the ninth inning. As he rounded third base, Garvey was met by fellow Padres who later carried him off the field in celebration.
Garvey made his final appearance in a game on May 23, 1987, pinch-hitting for Lance McCullers in the ninth inning. He hit a flyout in his one appearance at the plate. In his 19-year MLB career, Garvey was a .294 hitter with 272 home runs and 1308 RBI in 2332 games played.
Garvey is a member of the Irish American Hall of Fame and the Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame. In 1978, Steve Garvey Junior High School, in Lindsay, California, was named for him but was eventually renamed as part of Reagan Elementary in 2011. Garvey's jersey No. 6, worn when he was both a Padre and Dodger, is retired by the Padres. In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.
In his 15 years (1993–2007) on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), Garvey failed to reach the 75% required for induction. His highest percentage of votes was 42.6% in 1995; he received 21.1% in his final year on the ballot. He was subsequently considered by the Expansion Era Committee in voting for 2011 and 2014, and by the Modern Baseball Era Committee in voting for 2018 and 2020, falling short of the 75% threshold each time. In December 2019 voting for the 2020 induction class, Garvey received six votes from the 16-member committee (37.5%).
In 1983, Garvey started Garvey Media Group while playing for the Padres. Its strength was in sports marketing and corporate branding. In 1988, he headed Garvey Communications, mainly involved in television production including infomercials. In addition, he did motivational speaking for corporations.
Since 1990, he has served as a member of the board of the Baseball Assistance Team, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping former major league, minor league, and negro league players through financial and medical hardships.
At age 22, Garvey married Cynthia Truhan in 1971. They had two children, Krisha and Whitney. Cynthia was not very popular with most of Garvey's Dodger teammates or their wives, according to John. Cynthia left Garvey for composer Marvin Hamlisch; Garvey was already romantically involved with his secretary. Garvey and Cynthia divorced in 1983.
In July 1988, Garvey discovered that Cheryl Moulton was pregnant with his child, Ashleigh. Despite this, Garvey proposed to Rebecka Mendenhall in November 1988, telling Mendenhall about Moulton at the time of the proposal. Mendenhall learned that she was pregnant that January. Garvey broke their engagement January 1, 1989, on a phone call. Garvey and Mendenhall had been in a relationship since 1986. Their only child, Slade, was born in October 1989.
In January 1989, Garvey became engaged to Candace Thomas, whom he met at a benefit for the Special Olympics. Over the next few weeks, Garvey and Thomas began a courtship that included trips to the inauguration of President George H. W. Bush and the Super Bowl. Garvey, in the midst of what he termed a "midlife disaster", sued his ex-wife Cyndy for access to his two children. His daughters testified in court that they did not wish to see him. Under the shadow of multiple lawsuits, Garvey lost business opportunities and paid half his monthly television earnings in child support.
Garvey and Candace were married on February 18, 1989. They have three children together, Sean, Olivia and Ryan Garvey, and four from previous marriages, Taylor Abess, Shaunna Thomas Butler, Whitney Garvey, and Krisha Neither. Garvey resides in Los Angeles and Palm Desert, California.
- List of Major League Baseball career hits leaders
- List of Major League Baseball career home run leaders
- List of Major League Baseball career runs batted in leaders
- List of Major League Baseball career runs scored leaders
- Major League Baseball consecutive games played streaks
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Steve Garvey.|
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or Retrosheet
- Steve Garvey at SABR
- Steve Garvey at IMDb
| National League Player of the Month