Davey Lopes

April 7, 2007

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.


  1. 1.  Davey Lopes always hit me as guy that should have been playing bongos next to Neil Schon in the early days of Santana.

    You bring up 2 events that I have always felt deserved more attention. The Ellis no-hitter would make for a great documentary, if MLB would give out the footage. (does it exist, I’ve never seen it?)

    A great book would be the whole before and after of the infamous wife swap. Could this be the book Alex Belth was born to write? I could see it later be developed as a screenplay by the Coen bros.

  2. 2.  2 The Cheech and Chong line is great. Unfortunately, Davey Lopes the visual persona is diametrically opposite from Davey Lopez, the actual person. You couldn’t find a more rigid, militaristic guy in a room full of Marine drill sergeants.

  3. 3.  Being a huge Dodger fan Davy Lopes was the one Dodger who I never liked. First he took my favorite Dodgers job (Lee Lacy) and then when Jim Bouton tried his comeback in 78 Lopes hit a home run off of him and ridiculed Bouton as he rounded the bases. Ever since reading Ball Four Bouton had been a huge favorite of mine. His comments after the game just cemented the fact he was a jerk.
    Later as I started to understand the statistical side of baseball did I realize what a truly great player he had been during the Dodger infield run but that still didn’t change my opinion of him.

  4. 4.  Lopes is one of those players who derides the influence of statistical analysis of the game, without recognizing that such analysis showed him to be a very good and extremely underrated player. Lopes always wants more players to steal, although he doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that one reason why Lopes was so good was that he was so rarely caught stealing.

  5. 5.  Right, he’s Joe Morgan lite as a player and as an analyst.

  6. 6.  “It’s Alright To Cry” is in steady rotation in my household.

    I often wonder if Rosey Grier liked to sing that to opposing linemen before he would try to tear out their livers.

  7. 7.  I hate the blackout rules on baseball games. Fox has the rights to 3 games, so only 1/3 of the country gets to watch any one game (really less than that since I bet at least half the country is watching Braves vs Mets. Yet MLB.TV blocks everyone. Couldn’t they just show the Fox ads with the game?

  8. 8.  Oops, wrong Toaster thread. Great article about Lopes. I am a Dodger fan but those 80s teams are before my time (not to mention the 70s). This article brings to mind the difference between now and then in the drug culture. I think drug use is as prevalent as ever, but it is very insular and a lot of people don’t talk about it. Back then all these crazy stories were out there.

  9. 9.  Damn Blackout rules! I live on the west coast, can’t watch my Mets (a pox on Rupert Murdoch), can’t get the audio to work, and am waiting on hold for hours….yeah, and Davey Lopes was a neat player too..Quality ‘stache. Josh, could we have an ode to Dock’s no-hitter some time? Or perhaps an all-star roster of addled players?

  10. 10.  2, 3, 4, 5: Much thanks for rounding out the 10-year-old’s eye view of Mr. Lopes.

    6: Great thought on Grier “talking smack” to his opponents. The “Free to Be” song I’m having the most trouble fully recovering from all these decades later is “William’s Doll”:


    9: “Josh, could we have an ode to Dock’s no-hitter some time? Or perhaps an all-star roster of addled players?”

    Pedro, Dock’s been on the to-do list for a while. I keep learning new things about him. This morning I read, from Phil Pepe’s oral history of the 1970s, about an incident involving Reggie and Dock. Reggie was on the Orioles and took exception to Dock sailing a pitch near Belanger’s head. He came out onto the top step of the dugout and started yelling at Dock, “Hey, you wanna hit somebody, hit me!” When Reggie came up Dock drilled him in the face.

  11. 11.  10 – I read on wikipedia that Doc came out and hit every batter he faced one game, before he was pulled.

  12. 12.  10 “William’s Doll” is a tough listen.

    All of the Alan Alda stuff makes me insane on that record. My opinion of him as a performer went straight into the toilet after the 989th round of You & Me in the stereo. The “Atalanta” sketch makes me want to throw the cd player into the river. I agree with the sentiment, but the execution, christ, fuck you, Alda. The parts where he’s doing the lines in unison with Marlo Thomas – I can’t articulate what fills me with rage about it.

    “Sisters and Brothers” has that pseudo Sly and the Family Stone thing going on with the cool drum fill, though.

  13. 13.  Check out some of Cey’s cards of the late 1970’s.

  14. 14.  The Definitely Immoral Eric Enders! EE, you may recall me as Gary Geiger Counter. Anyhoo, I found the game that Benaiah was talking about:


  15. 15.  11, 14: That game gets a lot of attention in the Donald Hall’s great book “Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball.” Dock was trying to fire up his team, which he saw as becoming more and more willing to just roll over against the increasingly dominant Reds, and he actually said leading up to the game that he was going to hit every Red he faced. Rose: Bam! Morgan: Bam! Driessen: Bam!

  16. 16.  I liked the Steve Garvey comments. I always thought he was a closet serial killer, as he was just too “perfect”. All those teeth and that lovely wife. He should have wed Roger Staubach.

  17. 17.  A must read on Garvey’s ex-wife Cindy:



  18. 18.  17: Phew, that’s a harrowing article. Thanks for passing it along, Catfish326.

  19. 19.  I loved this entry….

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