The 1970’s, A To Z: Tommy Lasorda to Ron LeFlore

Recap: I’m going through all of the notable and somewhat notable players and managers of the 1970’s and I’m basically making like it’s an all-encompassing 1970’s throwback baseball card set. For the “card front”, I’m sharing my favorite 1970’s card of that guy. I’m also including a card back’s worth of information and thoughts about him and his cardboard.


TOMMY LASORDA

1978 Topps #189

Played 1954 – 1956
Managed 1976 – 1996
1970’s Teams: Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
Took over the Dodgers from long-time manager Walter Alston; Won pennants in 1977 and 1978, the first NL manager to win pennants in his first two seasons, but both times the Dodgers lost to the Yankees in six games; had a disappointing 3rd place finish in 1979

Career Highlights:
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager in 1997; Overall won 8 division titles, 4 pennants and 2 World Series; Was voted NL Manager of the year in 1983 and 1988; Is also in the Canadian Baseball HOF, the International League HOF and the Pacific Coast League HOF

Fun Stuff:
Did a guest spot on Fantasy Island and Police Squad! (A video clip of this is at the end of the post); was a regular on the TV show “The Baseball Bunch”

Card Stuff:
Appeared in the 1973 and 1974 Topps sets as one of Walter Alston’s coaches


GARY LAVELLE

1976 Topps #105

Played 1974 – 1987
1970’s Teams: Giants

1970’s Highlights:
Was a 1977 All-Star and pitched 2 scoreless innings, striking out Carl Yastrzemski and Reggie Jackson; In 1978 he got a career-high 13 wins, all in relief; Had 5 consecutive seasons with 65 or more appearances; Had a streak of 114 straight innings without allowing a homer

Career Highlights:
Was also an All-Star in 1983; Holds the Giants career mark with 647 appearances, 12 more than Christy Mathewson; Had 136 career saves


BILL LEE

1976 Topps #396

Played 1969 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Red Sox, Expos

1970’s Highlights:
Made the All-Star team in 1973; won exactly 17 games each year from 1973 to 1975; Pitched in 2 games of the 1975 World Series; His 2.75 ERA in 1973 was third-best in the league

Career Highlights:
A not-awful batter with a career batting average above the Mendoza Line; Had a 38-8 career record at USC, won 2 games in the 1968 College World Series and was named to the All-Tournament team

Fun Stuff:
His nickname is “The Spaceman” and while I was researching this post the descriptions of his tendencies ranged from “free-thinker” to “flake”; His aunt, Annabelle Lee, pitched in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League; His teammates at the U. of Southern California were future Major Leaguers Jim Barr and Brent Strom; Gave up Frank Howard’s final homer (#382 in 1973); Released his autobiography, “The Wrong Stuff”, in 1984; Ran for Governor of Vermont in 2016

Card Stuff:
Appeared in every “regular” Topps set in the 1970s


LERON LEE

1975 Topps #506

Played 1969 – 1976
1970’s Teams: Cardinals, Padres, Indians, Dodgers

1970’s Highlights:
Broke up a Tom Seaver no-hitter with one out in the 9th inning, July 4th, 1972… Seaver ended up with an 11-strikeout, 1-hit shutout

Career Highlights:
Was the Cardinals’ first pick in the 1966 draft; was the Cardinals Opening Day rightfielder in 1970

Fun Stuff:
Uncle of Derrek Lee; According to his Topps cards, his hobbies are building and flying gas-powered model airplanes, and railroading

Japanese Baseball Stuff:
LeRon Lee was a star player in Japan where he played 11 years with the Lotte Orions of the Japanese Pacific League, including 5 years where he played with his brother Leon; In LeRon’s first season with the Orions, he hit .317 and led the Pacific League with 34 home run and 109 RBIs; In 1980, he led the Pacific League with a .358 average; Over his 11 seasons with the Orions, Lee hit .320 with 283 home runs, and he set a record for the highest career batting average for a batter with over 4000 at-bats

1979 TCMA Japanese Baseball #67


RON LeFLORE

1977 Topps #240

Played 1974 – 1982
1970’s Teams: Tigers

1970’s Highlights:
LeFlore didn’t play organized baseball until he was serving a time in a Michigan state prison for armed robbery… during this time, he was brought to the attention of Tigers manager Billy Martin, and after a tryout Leflore signed a pro contract when he was released in 1973; In 1976 he had a breakout season, batting .316, scoring 93 runs, stealing 58 bases and being named the starter in left for the AL All-Stars, one of three Tigers on that team (along with Mark Fidrych and Rusty Staub); In 1978 he lead the league with 126 runs and 68 stolen bases

Career Highlights:
Got MVP votes in 4 of the 9 seasons in his career; Lead the NL with 97 stolen bases in 1980, making him the first player to lead both leagues in stolen bases and also making him the Expos/Nationals franchise single-season stolen base leader; Scored 90+ runs for five consecutive seasons

Fun Stuff:
His autobiography “Breakout” was turned into a 1978 TV movie called “One In A Million: The Ron LeFlory Story” starring LeVar Burton


Here’s Tommy Lasorda’s 1982 guest spot on “Police Squad!”, the short-lived TV series which spawned the Naked Gun movies


6 thoughts on “The 1970’s, A To Z: Tommy Lasorda to Ron LeFlore

  1. I remember seeing Lasorda on The Baseball Bunch. It was one of my favorite shows growing up. Didn’t know that piece of Giants trivia about Lavelle. I wonder what percentage of SF Giants fans know that tidbit. Just watched that LeFlore movie about a year ago. It was pretty good.

  2. Always nice to see a clip from Police Squad! Johnny was right about the rigors of a 4-man rotation. But it might have been funnier if Lasorda were in the middle of a game and asking what he should do next.

  3. I thought I knew all there was to know about Bill Lee, but I had no idea he gave up Frank Howard’s final homer. Also I really need to read “The Wrong Stuff” again.

  4. I always read “Orions” as “Onions” and then I’m disappointed that there’s no team named the Onions.

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