Some of the Top Cards of 1976

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

1976 Topps #515 - Steve Yeager

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  • Here's a quick ad for a new set blog -- The 1974 Topps Set. The 1974 set was the first one I ever collected and I'm looking forward to following this blog. It is an underrated set that has a lot of sentimental value for me.
  • Steve Yeager was a catcher in the major leagues from 1972-1986, mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yeager was drafted by the Dodgers in 1967. In his first three years in the minors (1967-1969) Yeager didn't come close to the Mendoza Line. Steve kept plugging away and eventually batted   over .270 in each of his last three minor league seasons (1970-1972).
  • Yeager was brought up to the Dodgers in August 1972. In 35 games Steve batted .274. Yeager backed up Joe Ferguson in 1973 and batted .254 in 134 AB. Steve got more playing time in 1974 and had his best offensive year, batting .266 with 12 HR in 94 games. Yeager went 0 for 9 in the NLCS but he was 4 for 11 (.364) in the 1974 World Series.
  • Steve took over the regular catching duties for the Dodgers in 1975. He batted .228 with 12 HR and 54 RBI in 135 games in 1975. The Catcher Who Says He's Better Than Bench - May 1975 Baseball Digest.
  • Yeager had a life-threatening accident in 1976. He was standing in the on-deck circle when Bill Russell was at bat. Russell's bat shattered and a piece of the bat hit Steve in the neck. Steve suffered a punctured esophagus and had nine pieces of wood removed from his neck in 98 minutes of surgery. Dodger trainer Bill Buhler invented and patented a throat protector after this incident and soon most major league catchers were wearing it. Steve batted .214 with 11 HR and 35 RBI for the Dodgers in 1976.
  • Yeager improved his offensive numbers in 1977 and batted .256 with 16 HR and 55 RBI. He batted .231 in the NLCS and .316 in the World Series.
  • Steve missed some time with injuries in July and August of 1978 and his offense never really got in gear. He batted .193 in 94 games during the regular season. Yeager batted .231 in four games in the NLCS and .231 in five games in the World Series. The Indespensable Dodger: Catcher Steve Yeager - July 1978 Baseball Digest.
  • Yeager played in 105 games and batted .216 in 1979 as he split time with Ferguson behind the plate. Steve and his family appeared on Family Feud in September 1979 and were on for six days. Steve batted .211 in 96 games in 1980.
  • By 1981 Mike Scioscia had taken over as the Dodgers' regular catcher. Steve played in 42 games in 1981 and batted .209 in 86 at bats. Steve batted a total of seven times and got three hits in the NLDS and NLCS. He played in all six games of the 1981 World Series and batted .286. He hit a game-winning HR off of Ron Guidry in game 5 of the series. The Game I'll Never Forget - May 1986 Baseball Digest. Yeager was named World Series MVP along with Pedro Guerrero and Ron Cey.
  • Steve batted .245 in 82 games in 1982. He appeared in Playgirl magazine in October 1982.
  • Mike Scioscia missed most of the 1983 season with an injury and Yeager was pressed back into service as the regular catcher. Steve batted .203 in 113 games during the regular season and .167 in six at bats in the NLCS.
  • Yeager returned to his backup catcher duties in 1984 and batted .228 in 74 games. He batted .207 in 53 games in 1985. After the 1985 season Steve was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Ed Vande Berg.
  • Steve spent one year (1986) in Seattle and batted .208 in 50 games. Yeager retired after the season.
  • Yeager was a technical advisor and played Coach Duke Temple in the three Major League movies. Steve is a nephew of Chuck Yeager. Tom Bradley, who was the mayor of Los Angeles at the time, served as Steve's best man at his wedding.
  • Yeager was a manager and a coach in the minor leagues after his retirement as a player. He was a hitting coach (of all things) in the Dodgers' system for a few seasons.
  • Steve was involved in an automobile accident in 2007. A car on the other side of a freeway hit the center divider, became airborne, and landed on Steve's car. Steve swerved just enough to keep the car from landing right on top of him. His left arm was pretty torn up.
  • Liked to face: Ron Schueler (.500 in 14 AB); John Denny (.444 in 18 AB); Larry Christenson (.429 in 21 AB)
  • Hated to face: John Stuper (.000 in 13 AB); Eric Rasmussen (.050 in 20 AB); J.R. Richard (.083 in 48 AB)

2 comments:

  1. Seeing Yeager come up to the plate was very deflating in the late '70s/early '80s. I still can't believe he did so well in the '81 Series.

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  2. I felt the same way when Johnnie LeMaster came up to the plate.

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