Thursday, April 2, 2015

'70s at 70

Today is the 70th birthday for two of the greatest Dodgers players of the 1970s, Reggie Smith and Don Sutton.

Because they share the exact same birthday and they both starred for the Dodgers at the same time, Smith and Sutton have been linked in my mind since I was a kid.

April 2, 1945. I've known the date by heart.

Smith and Sutton don't resemble each other much except in their ability to excel at baseball. Smith, of course, competed at the plate and Sutton at the mound. Sutton was raised a Dodger, while Smith came to L.A. in the prime of his career.

But my brain always pairs them up together.

When collecting cards in the late '70s, and alphabetizing my Dodgers, Smith and Sutton were very close together. Only Elias Sosa separated them. Then, for one glorious year -- in 1979 -- Smith and Sutton were back-to-back, as they should be (then in 1980, Rick Sutcliffe stepped between them).

Page 38 of the 1979 Dodgers yearbook is Reggie Smith's page. On the facing page, Page 39, is Don Sutton's page.

And then there was the brawl between Sutton and Steve Garvey in the locker room in 1978. When I read that it all came about because Sutton told Garvey that Smith was the player that made the Dodgers go, not Garvey, it made sense. They shared the same birthday, appeared together on baseball cards and in yearbooks, why shouldn't they be best buddies?

I don't know if they actually were. I kind of doubt it. Both seem to be the "I'll do my own thing" type.

Check out the 1978 Dodgers yearbook:

Reggie is playing the drums.

Don is helping out in the TV newsroom.

This has always been my favorite Reggie Smith card. I've mentioned before that from the moment I saw his 1976 Topps card with the Cardinals, I wanted Smith to be a Dodger. It was one of the few cases of my baseball wish coming true.

It's a little more difficult picking out my favorite Don Sutton card.

His '60s and '70s cards are pretty dull. Lots of kneeling poses and hands over the head. Where Sutton succeeds and Smith doesn't is in the number of relics available. I have a few very nice Sutton relic cards. I have none of Smith.

Once you've reached 70 years old, that's the high-rent district. There is now  no question that some of my childhood idols are "up there."

But it's nice that for both of them their age for the next decade can now match their greatest decade in the majors.

By the way, I've also always known that there were three major league players that shared the April 2, 1945 birthdate.

The other was a Dodger, too, albeit briefly.

Do you know which one?

He became famous for doing a very '70s thing.

Yup. It's wife-swapper, Mike Kekich.

Happy birthday to the old geezers, all.


  1. Sutton is very much a personal favorite of mine for the few years he spent in Milwaukee...and 70 years old? Geez.

  2. Don is good broadcaster but never hear him anymore since SuperStation TBS is long gone.,..,

  3. Those yearbook photos are fantastic!

  4. Wait. You've memorized Sutton's and Smith's birthday? I have a hard time memorizing anyone's birthday outside of my parents' and ex-girlfriend's (whose birthday is the day before mine). Thank goodness someone invented the smart phone.

  5. I told Jim Palmer in the autograph line that he and Sutton were a whole other level of cool stories when they paired up during the Nationals/Orioles series' for the one year that Sutton did Nats games. Two HOF pitchers sharing stories of all the old 60's and 70's guys they faced. Great stuff....