The Mustache Ride, Chapter 4
When I was growing up I could never muster much enthusiasm for the Los Angeles Dodgers, even when they were the only thing standing in the way of the hated Yankees and another World Series crown. Their personification, Steve Garvey, struck me as a phony. Tommy Lasorda did too, but at least Lasorda projected, with the shifty unction of a snake oil salesman, the unsaid admission that on some level he knew he was full of shit. Garvey on the other hand actually seemed to believe he represented all that was right and true in the world. I think as an inward, bespectacled, unkempt, half-Jewish, girl-haired, Free to Be You and Me “It’s all right to cry” hippie-mothered dufus I sort of half-expected that at any moment the handsome, clean-cut, chisel-jawed, beamingly optimistic, flag-saluting Steve Garvey types of the world would decide to round up all us defectives and herd us into guarded barracks where we’d be forced to read unbearably boring DC Superman comics and watch Steve Garvey clinics on proper hygiene, obedient citizenship, and hitting the cutoff man.
But on the other hand I always kind of liked Davey Lopes, shown here just moments after being dropped off at the ballpark by Cheech and Chong.
I include Davey Lopes (or “Dave” Lopes as he is referred to here, perhaps as a tribute to the classic “Dave’s Not Here” routine by his addle-pated chauffeurs) as the penultimate chapter in the increasingly aimless, soon to collapse Mustache Ride saga for two reasons. Number 1, he’s one of those guys that I cannot picture without a mustache. And B, the dazed and confused expression he shows in this 1978 card in many ways communicates to me not only the tenor of the times but the particular way in which the vibrant hippie movement of the ’60s had become a burnt cinder by the Carter years.
Throughout the 1970s baseball carried traces of the 1960s counterculture. To name three: the Kekich–Peterson wife swap, the no-hitter hurled by Dock Ellis while on acid (and a night of Jimi Hendrix records), the claim (for both its content and its sardonic, antiauthoritarian tone) by Bill Lee that he sprinkled marijuana on his pancakes every morning. But unlike the NBA, which featured a pony-tailed, bearded, Grateful Dead-befriending 7-foot redheaded vegetarian yeti with rumored connections to the famed Patty Hearst abduction case, major league baseball never provided a paycheck for the kind of fellow you might see hanging out in a Buddhist robe and sandals with Ram Dass and Allen Ginsberg at a Human Be-In reunion. Bill Lee was perhaps the closest thing, but he was really more an eccentric libertarian iconoclast than a member of any explicit or implicit movement; also, the closest he ever came to looking like a hippie was during the latter stages of his tenure with the Expos, when his gray-flecked beard made him resemble the 30-something former hippies he would soon be living among in his retirement in rural Vermont.
But what baseball did have in the 1970s, especially during its Carterian dregs, was a lot of guys who, as with Davey Lopes here, looked as if they might have a couple “lids” of “grass” back at their “pad.” All across America young men with mustaches were stumbling through their lives with cannabis in their bloodstream and corporate Rock songs stuck in their head. Gone were the days when the drugs and the music seemed to herald the opening of heaven on earth. Now it was all about trying to hold down a job to make payments on the customized van and, whenever possible, getting fucked up. “Don’t look back,” went one of the corporate Rock songs stuck in the heads of these young mustachioed hearty-partying men. “All we are is dust in the wind,” went another.