Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Starts with H

I'm positive that Dodgers collectors have come across this before and maybe someone even wrote about this a long time ago, but I have always wondered something about the 1988 World Series champion team.

There were 10 players on that team with a last name that started with an H. Was that a record for a World Series team, in terms of the most players with a last name starting with the same letter?

Now, if I was researching this for the newspaper or, say, actually getting paid to write what I write here, I would spend some time looking it up. But you're already getting this writing gold for free, so someone else can do the heavy lifting. I'll satisfy my curiosity some day when I have the time.

So who were those 10 players on the Dodgers that year?

There was Orel Hershiser (1), of course, the hero of the 1988 season. When Hershiser first came up, he was known as that guy with the wacky name. 1988 erased that bit of silliness.

The sem-regular third baseman for the Dodgers that year was Jeff Hamilton (2). After years of putting Ron Cey and then Pedro Guerrero out there, the Dodgers settled for Hamilton, who ended up with a career .234 batting average. Guerrero was traded in August of 1988, leaving Hamilton and Tracy Woodson to fill the gap at third.

Next up is Mickey Hatcher (3), who, after Hershiser and Kirk Gibson, was the biggest reason why the Dodgers won the World Series over the A's that year. The Dodgers love their utility players, and Hatcher didn't disappoint. He also was halfway crazy.

Another noted pinch-hitter, Danny Heep (4). Heep played more regularly on other teams. But with the Dodgers he was pretty much a pinch-hitter. He did an adequate job in 1988.

Now, we head to the bullpen. Brian Holton (5) basically had the best year of his career in 1988, as a set-up guy. He had a 1.70 ERA, 7 wins and 45 strikeouts in 42 innings. He was solid in Series, too.

The next two "H" pitchers didn't play in the postseason. Shawn Hillegas (6) was traded by the Dodgers to the White Sox in August for another "H" pitcher, Ricky Horton. When Hillegas came up with the Dodgers, I thought he was going to be the next great thing. Oops.

Brad Havens (7) pitched in only nine games for the Dodgers. He was released in May of 1988.

Ugh, Ken Howell (8). I never wanted to see Howell come into a game. He put up atrocious numbers with the Dodgers. He pitched in only four games for L.A. in 1988, I don't remember why (injury, perhaps?). The good thing about Howell is he and Brian Holton were sent to the Orioles for Eddie Murray. That turned out quite well.

Here is the "good" Howell, Jay Howell (9), the closer on the '88 team. Howell came over to the Dodgers with Alfredo Griffin and Jesse Orosco in that big three-team trade with the A's and the Mets in December 1987.

As much as I hated to lose Bob Welch in that trade, I was more than happy with Howell and Orosco. The Dodgers' relief pitching, especially their closers, had sucked since 1983 when they had Steve Howe (another H!). So the appearance of Howell, especially, was appreciated. He did fairly well in the postseason. Had a bad game against the Mets in the NLCS.
Lastly, we have Ricky Horton (10), a reliever the Dodgers acquired in August. There is no 1988 Topps/Donruss/Fleer Dodger card of Horton, not even in the traded sets. Horton did well for L.A. in the postseason, appearing in four games and not giving up a run.

The interesting thing is the Dodgers could have had even more players with an "H" last name had they not made a couple of other moves.

In February of 1988, the Dodgers released Glenn Hoffman (the guy couldn't hit, so I was more than happy), who would have been player No. 11.

And starter Rick Honeycutt was shipped to the A's during a lousy 1987 season. The Dodgers acquired Tim Belcher for Honeycutt, which worked out very nicely for L.A. as Belcher was another key World Series performer.

I couldn't show this card without mentioning that it is one of the worst uniform airbrushing performances in card history.

Honeycutt, now the Dodgers' pitching coach, would have made it an even dozen. But still 10 is pretty impressive. And I'm declaring it the record. Someone will just have to prove me wrong.
(Thanks for the Jay Howell card, gcrl!)


  1. For some reason I love the 1988 Topps set. The Dodger blue looks so great on them.

  2. Mickey Hatcher was out of his mind in that series. If I remember correctly he hit 2 homers. I just remember that it seemed like he was on base every time up (although it was probably closer to 400). All anyone remembers is the Kirk Gibson HR and that's well deserved, but I do feel bad that Mickey's great play was a bit overshadowed by that.