Who is this player? Jerry Reuss, starting pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers 1980 would prove to be a truly memorable year for Jerry Reuss of the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he did not begin the season as a starter, he pitched excellently in relief to earn a return to the rotation in mid-May. From there, he was the Dodgers' best pitcher and arguably the best in the National League. En route to a Comeback of the Year award, Reuss went 18-6, led his league in shutouts and posted the third best ERA in the NL (2.51). He appeared in the All Star Game in his home park, striking out three batters and earning the victory. However, his individual highlight of 1980 likely came on June 28th when he pitched a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants.
Jerry Reuss is a Missouri native that played at Sportsman's Park as a little league All Star and led his high school to a state championships in baseball. This would lead to his selection by the hometown Cardinals on the second round of the 1967 baseball draft. He ascended to the major leagues was a rapid one and he made his major league debut late in the 1969 season. He was inserted into the Cardinals starting rotation the following season, but the Redbirds were not patient with the young Reuss and traded him to Houston after only two seasons.
With the Astros, Reuss began to show the durability and consistency that would define his career. He started a league-best 40 games in 1973 and led Houston in innings pitched and complete games. The Astros' however, desperate for hitting, traded Reuss to the Pittsburgh Pirates following the season for catcher Milt May. In Pittsburgh, Reuss found himself on a contending team for the first time and he was an integral part of the Pirates success as they won the NL East in 1974 & 1975. Individually, Jerry was honored by being named the starting pitcher for the National League in the 1975 All Star Game. He averaged 14 wins and 229 innings for the first four seasons of his Pirate career.
Traded to the Dodgers early in the 1979 season, Reuss already had a reputation as an irrepressible jokester, but more importantly, a valued teammate. His affable demeanor helped to defuse many existing tensions in the Dodger clubhouse and it went a long way towards leading Los Angeles to a World Championship in 1981. While the title had been elusive for LA, the presence of Reuss, Jay Johnstone and other valuable role players is what pushed the Dodgers over the hump. Reuss would pitch in Los Angeles for nine seasons becoming a fan favorite and second only to Fernando Valenzuela in the Dodger rotation.
As his 22-year major league career wound down, he made stops with five teams, Cincinnati, Chicago, Anaheim, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. Four appearances with the Pirates in 1990 enabled Jerry to become one of only a handful of "four-decade" players in major league history. In retirement, Jerry has worked as a broadcaster for the Dodgers and ESPN. His passion for photography has led to some of his work being seen on Upper Deck baseball cards and today runs his own website. His photography can be seen at his flickr page, here. There are several excellent photos of major league parks here that you will find truly unique.
Why I love this card What stood out for me about this card was how happy Jerry Reuss looked in this card. Some of the players in this set seemed so serious and stoic and as a kid, I never understood that. Reuss looked how I imagined I would look like on a big league field, with a grin from ear to ear. In looking at Jerry's cards throughout his career, though, I noticed that he is smiling in every card. Thanks Jerry for reminding us that while baseball is a business, it doesn't hurt for all of us to enjoy ourselves along the way.
Something else..... Remember The Big Blue Wrecking Crew? Neither did I. Apparently, some of the Dodgers cut a record shortly after their 1981 Series triumph. This was five years before the "Super Bowl Shuffle" mind you.
The guys even took their act on the road, appearing on Solid Gold with Andy Gibb and Marilyn McCoo.
After seeing this, I really want to hear the rendition of "New York, New York."
On this date in 1980 Alice Cooper performs at the Kentucky State Fair with special guest Billy Squire. I know, sounded strange to me too.
This blog is inspired by several influences; first, the other blogs dedicated to a single season of Topps sets and the folks at http://www.deanscards.com/, who provide a great resource of all years of cards (and from whom I stole the awesome header).
Mainly though, this blog is inspired by my Dad who during the summer of 1980, fully introduced me to the great game of baseball through these cards. Every one of these cards is somehow connected to a memory of that time.