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Ex-Dodgers surprised Steve Garvey took so long to enter politics

Jerry Royce isn't at all surprised that former Dodgers teammate Steve Garvey is running for U.S. Senate.

What is shocking to Royce is that it took Garvey so long to begin his political career.

“He's a 75-year-old rookie,” Royce recently told The Times in an email.

Royce was a left-handed pitcher who played for eight teams over 22 seasons in Major League Baseball. Garvey was an infielder and one of the Dodgers' most popular players from the late 1970s to his early 1980s. Their baseball careers intersected in Los Angeles from his 1979 to his 1982.

Royce told the Times that Garvey was considering becoming an elected official during President Ronald Reagan's first term.

“Steve always considered entering the political arena,” Royce said in an email. “He once said to me that if a former actor can be president, why can't a former baseball player be president?”

Some 40 years later, Garvey made significant inroads into the field.a University of California, Berkeley Institute of Government A poll co-sponsored by The Times found the Republican freshman lawmaker and veteran Democratic congressman Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank effectively tied for the lead in the primary ahead of Tuesday's election. did.

According to the poll, 27% of voters support Garvey, followed by Schiff with 25%, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) with 19% and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). is 8%, but the public's approval rating is 12%. Voters are more likely to choose another candidate, with 9% undecided. The top two finishers will advance to his November runoff. According to the poll, Mr. Schiff would have a 53% to 38% (9% undecided) advantage over Mr. Garvey there.

Garvey was drafted by the Dodgers out of Michigan State University in 1968 and remained with the Dodgers until signing as a free agent with the San Diego Padres before the 1983 season. He played five seasons with the Padres until his retirement.

Starting in June 1973 and ending with the Dodgers' World Series victory in 1981, Garvey was one of MLB's most famous and durable infielders, playing first base. During his eight-and-a-half years, that lineup almost always included Davey Lopez at second base, Ron Cea at third base, and Bill Russell at shortstop.

See declined to comment for this article. The Times was unable to reach Mr. Lopez and Mr. Russell.

Two members of the Dodgers' 1981 championship team recently came out in support of one of Garvey's opponents vying for a Senate seat. In an announcement released by Lee's office on Wednesday, Dusty Baker and Dave Stewart were named as supporters of the Oakland congressman. Baker and Stewart have ties to Northern California and spent part of their MLB careers with the Athletics.

Tom Niedenfeuer was a rookie pitcher for the Dodgers during the 1981 season. Mr. Niedenfeuer, who lives in Florida, has followed Mr. Garvey's young political career from afar and is not surprised by his former teammate's success in that field.

“I could definitely see him getting into this situation,” Niedenfeuer told the Times in a recent phone interview. “That's not surprising at all, because he always spoke well, was great with the media, and definitely had his own opinions. And he was always a good businessman, so I was really surprised. No, and he will be very successful at this.”

Asked if he could think of any weaknesses Garvey has as a politician, Niedenfuhr could only think of one.

“The only thing I can think of is that he's such a good person that he's not aggressive enough to hit back at people who have done bad things,” Niedenfuhr said. “He's not the type to attack other people or other opponents. He was always great with everyone. If he had a weakness, it would be that he was too nice.”

Former Dodger and San Diego Padres player Steve Garvey greets some of his loyal fans at Dodger Stadium on April 16, 1983.

(Lennox McClendon/Associated Press)

Royce, who lives in Nevada, said he doesn't follow Garvey's campaign enough to form an opinion on his former teammate's politics. But Royce added of Garvey, “He's still as loyal today as he was the day I met him.”

Like Royce, former longtime Dodgers announcer Ross Porter is surprised that Garvey waited so long to enter politics.

“Steve is a good senator and would be a better choice than his opponents, especially the obnoxious Adam Schiff,” Porter told the Times in an email, adding that he and his wife donated to Garvey's campaign. He also added that there are.

Asked by the Times if he had any stories that demonstrated the qualities that would suit Garvey as a senator, Porter responded with the following anecdote:

“On Sunday afternoon, August 28, 1977, Garvey entered a game against the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium in the worst batting slump of his 19-year major league career. It was a disastrous score of 139.

“Before the game that day, two nuns introduced the disabled girl to her favorite Dodgers player, Steve Garvey. During the conversation, the girl asked, “Will you hit a home run today? “said.

“Garvey said he would try.

“That day, Garvey had his best offensive game ever. He went 5-for-5, had five RBIs, two home runs, and a grand slam, and the Dodgers won 11-0.

“Steve told me years later that he was still corresponding with the girl.''

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