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September 20, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Steve Garvey's Return to Wrigley Field, May 1985

by Geoff Young

At last Saturday's Dodger Stadium shindig, we heard from Vin Scully, Logan White, and Steve Garvey. All told fascinating stories, among which were Garvey's recounting of his first game at Wrigley Field after helping to knock the Cubs out of the post-season the previous October.

He recalled that the crowd was chanting “Garvey sucks!” as he stepped to the plate against Rick Sutcliffe. He noted that Sutcliffe, Cubs catcher Jody Davis, and plate umpire Gerry Davis all started laughing.

Then Garvey tripled to deep right-center off Sutcliffe (Garvey, perhaps remembering that he was playing on a pulled left hamstring at the time and had trouble running, referred to the hit as a double). The crowd fell silent for a moment, before resuming its chant.

This is what Garvey told us on Saturday. What did he (and others) tell the newspapers at the time?

Sutcliffe is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “I made a mistake to Garvey on a slider.” Sutcliffe elaborated in Tom Friend's article in that same paper: “I still don't have the right release on it . . . It's an important pitch to me. I don't strike too many out without it.”

Friend's article also noted that the chants directed toward Garvey began during batting practice, instigated by a fan wearing a “Party Naked” T-shirt in the left-field bleachers and that “Garvey waved to the loving fans out there, tipping his hat.” Of the chant, Garvey said: “That's the first time in 15 years. I've had chants like that from sections, but never from a whole crowd.”

Sutcliffe told the Chicago Tribune's Fred Mitchell that the game “felt like any other game in May. It didn't mean anything special.”

Another story line was Rich Gossage's struggle to nail down the save. He entered, as closers did then, with one out in the seventh. Although Gossage allowed three runs, he preserved the victory for Andy Hawkins, who improved to 5-0 on the young season.

Hawkins, for his part, had come into the year with a chip on his right shoulder. Seems the Padres had pursued Sutcliffe as a possible replacement for Hawkins in the 1985 rotation. But it never came to pass and so Garvey knocked his triple, sending the Wrigley Field crowd into a frenzy.

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