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Terry Forster

April 20, 2011

In the beginning, Terry Forster must have seemed like The Natural. He made it to the major leagues as a teenager able to do anything and everything on a baseball diamond. In his first two big league seasons, he averaged better than a strikeout per inning on the mound and went 12 for 24 at the plate. His all-around abilities extended to the basepaths, too, as in 1972 he became the last American League pitcher to steal a base before the institution of interleague play. The designated hitter rule in 1973 took the bat out of Forster’s hands for the next few years, but in 1977 he moved to the National League and racked up 9 hits (including a double and a triple) in 26 at-bats for a .346 average. Because of the role he settled into for the rest of his career—short reliever—he would never again get more than 8 at-bats in a season, but he continued to produce with the bat whenever called upon, and his lifetime batting average reads like a typographical error. Terry Forster was a .397 career hitter.

In 1978, Forster’s first season in Los Angeles, he had a typically stellar year at bat (going 4 for 8). Meanwhile, he had his career-best performance on the mound, recording 22 saves and posting a team best 1.94 ERA for the pennant-winning Dodgers. He added five scoreless innings and a win in the playoffs. He’s on the brink of that dream season in this 1978 card, a doctored artifact that attempts clumsily to obscure the fact that in the photo he was wearing the uniform of another team. It gives the card a blobby, globby, and, yes, gooey feeling, and perhaps it can be viewed as the embryonic beginning of another narrative that would eventually expand (like a midsection) and obscure entirely the initial story of Terry Forster’s career, The Natural disappearing via a David Letterman monologue into “a fat tub of goo.” Forster, ever the natural, took it all in stride, shrugging off Letterman’s remark with one of his own: “A waist is a terrible thing to mind.”

***

As you may or may not have noticed, I decided that to continue posting team predictions deep into April was pretty dumb, plus the team predictions I’d been posting had become increasingly allusive to the point of not really being predictions at all. Still, I’m going to finish out the last few cards in my stack of “team prediction” cards, and if anyone wants to attempt to connect this 1978 Terry Forster card to the fortunes of the 2011 Dodgers (or the Jose Canseco card from Monday to the 2011 Blue Jays, etc.), I am all ears.  

I did want to make sure and direct anyone wishing to enjoy the 2011 baseball season from a Dodger perspective to Dodger Thoughts, a shining light in the baseball blogosphere and one of the great online communities of any stripe.

Finally, a question, in honor of Terry Forster: Who would make up the all-time “goo” team? The pitching staff would be easy to assemble, and I’m sure there’ve been some portly catchers, outfielders, and corner infielders, but I’m drawing a blank for the middle infield spots. If you’ve got any suggestions to fill out the roster below, please let them fly.

Team Goo
C: Mike Lavalliere (1 vote), Hector Villanueva (1 vote), Ramon Castro (1 vote), Henry Blanco (1 vote), Smokey Burgess (1 vote)
1B: Cecil Fielder/Prince Fielder platoon (1 vote)
2B: Ronnie Belliard (1 vote)
SS: Juan Uribe (1 vote)
3B: Pablo Sandoval (1 vote)
LF: Greg Luzinski (2 votes), Kevin Mitchell (1 vote)
CF: Kirby Puckett (1 vote)
RF: Matt Stairs (1 vote), Tony Gwynn (1 vote)
Util: Ty Wiggington (1 vote)
SP: Mickey Lolich (1 vote), LaMarr Hoyt (1 vote), Sid Fernandez (2 vote), CC Sabathia (1 vote), David Wells (1 vote)
RP: Juan Berenguer (2 vote), Rich Garces (1 vote), Joba Chamberlain (1 vote), Charlie Kerfeld (1 vote)

21 comments

  1. Mickey Lolich:

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51xDSWd5ceL._SL400_.jpg

    Classic photo of flab in fron of the Monster.


  2. Ronnie Belliard is a tub of guts.


  3. I was also thinking Lolich for SP.

    Belliard is a good one for 2B.


  4. we could throw Greg Luzinski in at LF? was he fat enough?
    and if we’re looking for a fat SP “rotation”, then i’m sure that LaMarr Hoyt is up for the job…


  5. For recent players, Matt Stairs for RF and Ty Wigginton for SS. For ’70s either Reuschel brother will suffice for pitcher…


  6. Mike LaValliere or Hector Villanueva are good catcher options, but for first base? It’s got to be Booooog Powell.


  7. Juan Berenguer, Sid Fernandez and CC Sabathia would all be candidates for the pitching staff.


  8. David Wells could be the only player to miss time because of gout. Cecil Fielder was called “Thunderfoot” as a Jay, and those were his skinny days.


  9. Ozzie Guillen once said the White Sox needed a shortstop instead of a fatstop when Juan Uribe was playing for them.


  10. I will have to go with Kirby Puckett in centerfield. Even though he was a little pudge-ball, he could still make those tiny legs churn and get after it!


  11. How we’ve come this far with no one mentioning Rich “El Guapo” Garces for a reliever’s spot is amazing. I’d also like to throw in a vote for Pablo “Panda” Sandoval at third base.


  12. I second Greg Luzinski. My #1 childhood friend who I’m still close to 30 years later (my “Ian Wilker” if you will, no offense to my baseball-clueless sister) and I strictly referred to him as “fat guy on the White Sox.”


  13. Kevin Mitchell, Left Field.
    Tony Gwynn Sr., Right Field.


  14. I’ll second thunderfan24;

    Juan Berenguer’s uncanny resemblance to the character of “El Jefe” in Sam Peckinpah’s “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” is certainly worth noting; although Juan probably had a couple of dozen kilograms on actor Emilio Fernandez, who also played a classic “heavy” in such classics as The Wild Bunch and The Magnificent Seven.

    And jumping to mind right off the proverbial bat was “El Sid,” who fluctuated between “professional athlete fat” and just plain “fat” during his tenure in Flushing.

    Rounding out the pitching staff, (literally,) you can throw in the over-hyped, pudgy-cheeked Yankee cause-celebre Joba Chamberlain, and Astros reliever Charlie Kerfeld, who appeared to possess the metabolism of a recreational darts player.

    Obviously first base ends up as the eventual destination for alot of those players who can hit, but lack the ‘range’ of their fleeter peers, while the existence of the DH in the AL provides a destination for those even too lumbering to adjust to playing first. I think of Cecil and Prince Fielder, who seem to be sharing the same trajectory as far as field position and figure go…

    Yeah, middle infielders are going to be a tough call…better the roster should carry three catchers, who tend to adhere more to the “Engleberg” prototype; Just looking back at the recent Mets, guys like Ramon Castro, and Henry Blanco seem to be cut from a cloth a step or two beyond “stocky.”
    (how “baseball reference” has Todd Pratt listed at 30 lbs(!) lighter than he appears in my ca. 2000 Mets program is beyond me…)

    Am I the only one tickled to see “Ian Wilker” fleetingly referenced in deferential acclaim on a page hypothesizing the mythical “all-heft” all-stars?


  15. The team is “shaping up.” I added Smoky Burgess to the mix at catcher, in honor of his famed description by Boyd and Harris in The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book:

    “Smoky Burgess was fat. Not baseball fat like Mickey Lolich or Early Wynn. But FAT fat. Like the mailman or your Uncle Dwight. Putsy Fat. Slobby Fat. Just Plain Fat. In fact I would venture to say that Smoky Burgess was probably the fattest man ever to play professional baseball …. The sight of him standing in the batters’ box, his voluminous avoirdupois impinging on a full 45 per cent of the natural strike zone, his stubby arms flailing out in that curiously hitched and compacted swing which made him look for all the world like a spastic rhinoceros beating a rug, and then tootling on down the first base line as another of his seeing-eye bleeders wends its way through a befuddled infield, is one that those who have been gifted to witness it are not likely to forget.”


  16. i know this is feldmaning, but here are some all-time fat teams as compiled by others; i’m glad fernando valenzuela has made the cut!

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=list/050425&num=0
    http://culturemob.com/the-greatest-fat-baseball-players-of-all-time
    http://dubsism.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/the-all-fat-guy-baseball-team


  17. This past Sunday night, as i watched CC Sabathia’s voluminous pants flap in the April breezes, I turned to my couch-mate and noted, “He’s approaching Sid Fernandez territory.” The progress of the Mets season could be measured by whether or not one could see the catcher and hitter from the second-base camera angle; at a certain point in midsummer, both would disappear behind Fernandez’s spreading yard-wide ass-bulk.

    Also very glad Fernando Valenzuela made the cut; I managed him for several years on my Strat-o-matic team in the 80s. At that time most of the discussion centered on the largeness of the number referring to his actual age rather than weight, as one opponent loudly proclaimed that Valenzuela had played in Mexico for many years before his Rookie of the year/Cy Young award season. Wikipedia puts it succinctly: “His birth date is officially listed as November 1, 1960, but during his phenomenal rookie season in 1981 several commentators questioned his age, guessing him to be significantly older than twenty.[3]” I reply: Time moves differently south of the border.


  18. Mid ’70s Wilbur Wood for LHP, Carlos Baerga as a Met 2B.


  19. Gotta have Babe Ruth in there as OF/Starting Pitcher. And as for the middle of the infield, I’d really like to convince you that this picture is of Don Zimmer in his days playing 2b.


  20. Greg Luzinski wasn’t fat; he was “big boned.”


  21. I’m coming to this post late, but how on earth (or Jupiter) does John Kruk not make this list? I mean, look at the guy: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_lPXSFMAotRg/S7a4lKk_H6I/AAAAAAAAAD4/KztXdwrA5ac/s1600/John%2BKruk.jpg



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