The 1981 Dodgers

Team History: 1951-1997
1981 Record:
63-47, finished first (36-21) in first half of N.L. Western Division (split season)
Won National League Division Series, 3-2 vs. Houston Astros | Won National League Championship Series, 3-2 vs. Montreal Expos | Won World Series, 4-2, vs. New York Yankees
Tommy Lasorda
Dusty Baker, OF; Steve Garvey, 1B; Pedro Guerrero, OF; Burt Hooton, P; Davey Lopes, 2B; Fernando Valenzuela, P
Home Attendance:

Season Recap:

It was a season unlike any other and it ended with a Los Angeles Dodger World Championship. Frustrated by their one-game playoff loss to the Houston Astros in 1980, the Dodgers brought a renewed vigor to the 1981 season. What they did, and how they did it, will always be remembered for possibly their greatest comeback in post-season play. April 9, 1981, Opening Day at Dodger Stadium is against the Dodgers’ nemesis, the Houston Astros. Left-hand pitcher Jerry Reuss, named the Opening Day starter by Manager Tom Lasorda, injured himself in a workout the day before the season starts. What to do? The first game of the season would be started by Fernando Valenzuela, the 20-year-old left-hander who dazzled at the tail end of the 1980 season. Relaxed the day before Opening Day, Valenzuela had thrown batting practice. With Reuss not ready to go, Lasorda turned to Valenzuela for his major league starting debut. And Valenzuela did not disappoint. He shut out the Houston Astros, 2-0. Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully after Valenzuela fanned the final hitter, exclaimed, “And a little child shall lead them!” It was the first time a Dodger rookie had started on Opening Day and the first time a shutout had been pitched by a rookie. And this was only Game 1 of the 1981 season. Valenzuela was the baseball story of the world as he won his five first starts in April with a 0.20 ERA in 45 innings. He was not only winning, but pitching shutouts with four of them. He won on the road and won at home. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and attended a White House luncheon for the President of Mexico. He was not the only reason for the Dodgers’ early season success. The pitching staff was among the best in the National League. Including starting pitchers Jerry Reuss and Burt Hooton, the Dodgers earned a 6 ½ game lead in the middle of May. Pitching would carry the ballclub a long way in 1981. They were 2nd in the N.L. in ERA (3.01), 1st in complete games, tied for first in shutouts, 2nd in the N.L. in strikeouts, 2nd most wins in the first game after a win, 2nd most wins by starting pitchers, 2nd best ERA in starting pitcher ERA. The offense, while not as dominant as the pitching staff, but what could be? Still, the Dodger bats enjoyed timely hitting. They were 4th in hits and RBI with men in scoring position. They scored the 2nd highest number of runs from the 7th inning until the end of the game and 3rd most runs scored in the ninth inning or later. The Dodger bats had home run power with Ron Cey hitting 13, Steve Garvey hitting 10 home runs and leading the team in RBI, Pedro Guerrero, a rising power hitter added 12 home runs with 48 RBI and Dusty Baker hit nine home runs with 49 RBI. The Dodgers’ 6 ½ game lead began to shrink as competitors closed in on them and the Cincinnati Reds began to play well. On June 11, Valenzuela started and lost a game in St. Louis, 2-1 and baseball stopped playing in the major leagues because of a labor interruption. The Dodgers were a scarce ½ game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds because the Reds had been rained out in a game at home against St. Louis in April and not yet made the game up. No major league games were played until the season began again on August 10. To re-start the season and to ensure a playoff system that would be viable, the major league clubs agreed to allow the division leaders a championship for the first half of the season and give them an automatic berth in their division playoff series. Taking advantage of that opportunity, Manager Tom Lasorda began to use his entire roster, getting necessary playing time and at bats for his bench players. Lasorda knew the three round playoff series that had never been done in baseball before would require him getting the most from his bench. Rick Monday, Steve Yeager, Jay Johnstone played in several games they might not have if there had been a sole pennant race. The Dodgers weren’t done in getting players valuable experience. They reached down to their scouting and player development system who had come up with some young guns to reinforce the roster for the remainder of the season. Pitchers Alejandro Pena and Tom Niedenfuer, despite their lack of career experience, were brought to the major leagues. Minor league standout players as Mike Marshall and Steve Sax were also included on the roster to rest other players and give them valuable experience. The National League Division Series opened in Houston with two games and the Astros won them both. With the series moving to Los Angeles, the Dodgers rose up and won three consecutive games, with Jerry Reuss besting Nolan Ryan, 4-0 in Game 5. Next, playing the Montreal Expos for the National League pennant, the Dodgers won Game 1, but then lost two straight games to the Expos. Burt Hooton pitched well for a Game 4 win to tie the series at 2. In Game 5, Rick Monday homered in the top of the ninth inning with two out and Fernando Valenzuela held off the Expos for 8 2/3 innings until Bob Welch got the final out for a save to send the Dodgers to the World Series. The Dodgers again found themselves down in the series by losing the first two games to the Yankees. Coming from behind was normal now to the Dodgers and they won three consecutive games at home by one run over the New York Yankees. In Game 6, Burt Hooton pitched his fourth postseason and the contributions made by Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, and Steve Yeager led these three Dodgers to be voted the first Tri-Most Valuable Players of the World Series. The 1981 World Series is the Dodgers’ fifth World Championship and their first since 1965.

Below are the Dodger Front Office department heads and personnel who worked for Peter O’Malley.

Board of Directors
Peter O’Malley, President; Harry M. Bardt; Roland Seidler, Jr., Vice President, Treasurer; Terry O’Malley Seidler, Secretary
Peter O’Malley
Vice President, Player Personnel:
Al Campanis
Vice President, Public Relations and Promotions:
Fred Claire
Vice President, Minor League Operations:
William P. Schweppe
Vice President, Marketing:
Merritt Willey
Vice President, Treasurer:
Roland Seidler, Jr.
Special Consultant:
Walter Alston
Controller and Assistant Treasurer:
Ken Hasemann
Assistant Secretary:
Irene Tanji
Director, Advertising, Novelties and Souvenirs:
Danny Goodman
Director, Community Relations:
Don Newcombe
Community Relations:
Roy Campanella
Community Relations:
Lou Johnson
Director, Dodger Network:
Dave Van de Walker
Director, Dodgertown:
Charlie Blaney
Director, Publicity:
Steve Brener
Toby Zwikel
Director, Scouting:
Ben Wade
Director, Speakers Bureau:
Bill Shumard
Director, Stadium Club and Transportation:
Bob Schenz
Director, Stadium Operations:
Bob Smith
Director, Ticket Department:
Walter Nash
Director, Ticket Marketing:
Barry Stockhamer
Executive Pilot, Dodger 720-B Fan Jet:
Capt. Lewis G. Carlisle
Traveling Secretary:
Billy DeLury
Michael Strange
Administrative Assistant:
Ike Ikuhara
Team Doctors:
Dr. Frank W. Jobe; Dr. Robert M. Woods