Blue Bios: Davey Lopes
David Earle Lopes 15 (#12 as Dodger coach)
Born: May 3, 1945 in East Providence, Rhode Island
Batted: Right Threw: Right 5’9″ 170 lbs.
Before the Dodgers’ infield was composed of James Loney, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, and Juan Uribe, there was an iconic infield group which endured for eight and one half memorable seasons. Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Ron Cey will always be the perfect Dodger infield. Davey Lopes played second base for the Dodgers for nine years of his sixteen career seasons as a MLB player. He played in 1,812 games, and it can be argued that Lopes was one of the best base stealers that ever ran from bag to bag in Major League History. After his days as a player, Lopes has been coaching, managing, and mentoring young players. Since becoming the first base coach for the Dodgers in 2011, Lopes has taken Matt Kemp under his wing and given him the confidence and techniques which helped shape his MVP caliber season last year. Lopes is also working with the new starting shortstop for the Dodgers this season, Dee Gordon. With the combination of Dee’s natural speed and Davey Lopes’ expertise we could possibly see Gordon steal a league leading number of stolen bases this season.
Davey Lopes was a leadoff hitter most of his career. He ranks at number 25 on the list of most stolen bases in MLB history with 557. He ranks second in Dodger history with 413 steals. Maury Wills stole 490. His 83.01% stolen base success rate (557 steals in 671 attempts) places Lopes as 3rd-best among players with 400 or more career stolen bases. Tim Raines and Willie Wilson are in front of him.
Lopes was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 8th round of the 1967 amateur draft, but he did not sign. Lopes was then drafted by the Dodgers in the 2nd round of the 1968 amateur draft. Davey Lopes played for the Dodgers from 1972-1981. Davey made his MLB debut with the Dodgers on September 22, 1972 ironically against both the rival team of the Dodgers and his original drafting team, the San Francisco Giants. In 1975 Lopes stole 38 consecutive bases without getting caught, and he led the NL that year with 77 stolen bases. The following season his 63 stolen bases was also good enough for best in the league.
In 1978 Davey Lopes became only the fifth ever Dodger captain. The previous captains were Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Maury Wills, and Willie Davis. He would uphold the duties as captain until July,1979.
Lopes not only stole a lot of bases, but he also had power to boot. In 1979 he had a career high 28 homeruns, and he hit 17 dingers twice. He was an All-Star for four consecutive years (1978-1981). He played in four World Series, six National League Championship Series, and one Division Series. His most memorable postseason appearance was in the 1978 Fall Classic. In the 1978 World Series versus the New York Yankees, Lopes hit two homeruns and drove in five RBI in Game 1, and hit another homerun in the final Game 6. Even though the Dodgers lost, Davey hit .308 with two steals in the Series. His time and ring would come though. He was a member of the 1981 World Champion Dodgers, and he stole 10 bases during the 1981 postseason.
Before the 1982 season, the Dodgers sent Davey Lopes to Oakland in exchange for minor leaguer Lance Hudson to make room for their new rookie second baseman Steve Sax. The long-standing infield of Lopes, Garvey, Russell, and Cey was sadly broken up. Lopes played with the A’s from 1982-1984. With his new teammate, Rickey Henderson, together they broke the record for most stolen bases by teammates with 158 (Rickey stole 130 and Davey stole 28).
Davey Lopes holds a number of Dodger records as a second baseman. Davey is the all-time Dodger home run leader for a second baseman with 98. He also has the Dodger record for most leadoff homeruns at 28, and played at second base in the most games by any Dodger (1,150 games). He was the Dodger Opening Day second baseman seven times. Lopes also ranks in the top 10 all time in Los Angeles Dodgers history in hits (8th, 1,204), at-bats (7th, 4,590), runs (5th, 759), triples (6th, 39), total bases (9th, 1,744) and stolen bases (2nd, 418).
Lopes went on to play with the Chicago Cubs from 1984-1986.
Davey Lopes finished his career with the Houston Astros from 1986-1987. His final game was on October 4, 1987 versus the Cincinnati Reds.
After retiring Lopes coached for many teams including the Orioles, Padres, Nationals, Phillies, and currently his original team the Dodgers. As a coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, he not only won a World Series with them in 2008, but in all four seasons with Philly Lopes helped them attain the best stolen base percentage in the Majors. In 2007, Philadelphia actually had the best percentage in MLB history at 87.9% (138 for 157).
Lopes also was briefly the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000-2002. He was fired from his managing job shortly after the 2002 season began due to continued losing seasons and a 3-12 start to the 2002 season.
Since returning to the Dodgers in 2011 after a 30-year absence, Lopes has made a huge impact on the stolen base percentage for the team. In 2011, the Dodgers’ stolen base percentage was 75.9% which was the second-best percentage for the Dodgers since they moved out West in 1958. The 1962 team was at 82.2%. The Dodgers’ 126 stolen bases was fourth in the NL. Before Lopes became a coach for the Dodgers, the team had a 64.8% stolen base percentage coupled with 92 steals the year prior in 2010.
Davey Lopes currently lives in San Diego, CA. He has one daughter, Vanessa.
Lopes was a great Dodger, one of the all-time best base stealers, and is a coach with a special expertise.
Stopwatch in hand, Davey Lopes knows exactly what pitch to run on for every pitcher in the league. Perhaps Davey and Dee will make history together, as the experienced base thief mentors the young speedster.
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