As a skinny white kid from rural Michigan, it didn't take long for me to realize: I wasn't going to be as cool as Dick Allen. I just didn't possess the raw materials (namely... talent and style) plus I failed to develop the natural appetite to be different. When Dick Allen disappeared from the game in the middle of the 1977 season, I looked to find someone that I could connect with. During a three year period between 1977 & 1979 Steve Garvey was that guy for me.
Looking back almost 25 years later, the opposing spectrum's Steve Garvey & Dick Allen represent is a pretty darn funny. But for me... somehow... it worked. Maybe it was the position, I played first base. Maybe it was the uniform, my little league team wore blue & white. Perhaps it was his batting stance and approach at the plate, I certainly did not have his Popeye forearms. There was no doubt Steve Garvey had the popularity, temperament and consistency I needed at the time.
One thing is for sure, he was one heck of a player. Garvey appeared in ten All-Star Games, on the winning side in all of them. In 1974, he was voted a starter as a write-in candidate and won the game's MVP. He was awarded four Gold Gloves. From 1974 to 1980, he hit.300, collected 200 hits and drove in 100 runs every year. From 1975 to 1983, he played in a National League record 1,207 consecutive games.
He played on Dodger championship teams in 1974, 1977, 1978, and won the World Series in 1981. Later, in a shocking change of attire, he helped class up the taco brown uniform and drove the 1984 San Diego Padres to the World Series. Garvey was often mentioned as a potential candidate for elected office after he retired, but the revelation that he had fathered several illegitimate children eliminated any political ambitions.
Many fans (including me) assumed that Steve Garvey would be elected quickly to the Hall of Fame, simply because he was so famous. This has not happened. According to the similarity scores method, the most similar player is Al Oliver. Of the top 10, only Orlando Cepeda is actually in the Hall of Fame. Others include Bill Buckner and Cecil Cooper, 1970's first basemen featuring high batting average and RBIs from the middle of a line-up. He has exhausted his 15 years of eligibility for HoF voting by the BWAA, having received around 40% of the vote in the first few years and closer to 25% of the vote in the last few years.