Breaking into the big leagues as a 20-year-old, 5-foot-9 third baseman in 1970, not many fans would-have predicted that Garvey would become one of the most respected ironmen that the MLB has ever seen.
One of Garvey’s most celebrated achievements came on June 7, 1982, when he became only the fifth player in major league history to play in 1,000 consecutive games, joining Lou Gehrig, Everett Scott, Billy Williams, and Joe Sewell as the only MLB players to accomplish such a feat.
Ironically, the 1982 season was his final campaign in Los Angeles, as he signed a free agent deal with division rival San Diego later that winter. His consecutive games streak stretched into the 1983 season in a Padres uniform, when he appeared in 1,207 consecutive contests before the streak finally ended after he broke his thumb in a collision at home plate against the Braves.
The 1207 consecutive games is still a National League record to this day. The injury was a heartbreaking moment for Garvey, as some pundits felt he had a legitimate chance to make a run at Gehrig’s record of 2130.
Remember, this was almost two decades before Cal Ripken Jr. ultimately broke Gehrig’s record, setting his own mark of a whopping 2632 consecutive games back in 1998.
Among Garvey’s awards are the 1974 NL MVP, the 1974 All-Star Game MVP, the 1978 All-Star Game MVP, the 1978 NLCS MVP, recipient of the 1981 Roberto Clemente Award, the 1984 NLCS MVP, and recipient of the 1984 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.
Garvey earned four career Gold Gloves and was named to ten total NL All-Star squads.
He appeared in five World Series—1974, 1977, 1978 and 1981 with the Dodgers, 1984 with the Padres—with his 1981 endeavor against the Yankees becoming the Dodgers’ first World Championship since 1965.
Aside from his 1974 regular-season MVP campaign, Garvey’s two best seasons arguably came in 1977 and 1978. In 1977, he hit .297/.335/.498 with 25 doubles, 33 long balls and 115 RBI. In 1978, he slashed .316/.353/.499 with 36 doubles, 21 homers, and 113 RBI, alongside 10 stolen bases.
Few fans realize that despite his respectable power numbers, he was one of the team’s most effective contact hitters, as he never struck out more than 90 times in a single season. Playing 162 games and collecting 648 AB in 1979, he punched out just 59 times.
He ranks third in team history with 333 doubles, fifth with 1968 hits, fifth with 992 RBI and sixth with 3004 total bases.
During the 1984 season, Garvey set the record as the only first baseman in baseball history to commit no errors while playing 150 or more games. He handled 1,319 total chances (1,232 putouts and 87 assists) flawlessly in 159 games for the Padres.
He was inducted into the Dodgers team hall of fame, Legends of Dodgers Baseball, as part of the inaugural class in 2018.