A rookie at 75? Former Dodgers were surprised that it took Steve Garvey so long to enter politics

FILE – Former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey waves to fans before a baseball game on Saturday, June 1, 2019, in Los Angeles. Republican Garvey, a former baseball MVP, entered the crowded race to succeed the late U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday, Oct. 1. August 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
(Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

A rookie at 75? Former Dodgers were surprised that it took Steve Garvey so long to enter politics

Elections 2024, California politics

Chuck Schilken

March 4, 2024

Jerry Reuss isn’t at all surprised that his former Dodgers teammate Steve Garvey is running for U.S. Senate.

The shocking thing for Reuss is that it took Garvey so long to launch his political career.

“He is a 75-year-old rookie,” Reuss recently told The Times in an email.

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

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Steve Garvey touts ‘family values’ in his Senate bid. Some of his children tell a different story

Reuss told The Times that Garvey was talking about being elected at the time, as Ronald Reagan was serving his first term as U.S. president.

“Steve has always had thoughts of entering the political arena,” Reuss said

in the email

. “He once told me that if a former actor could become president, why couldn’t a former baseball player?”

Some four decades later, Garvey has made quite an entrance into that arena. A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by The Times found Republican newcomer and Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the veteran Democratic congressman from Burbank, essentially tied in the primaries ahead of Tuesday’s elections ​​with the leadership.

Schiff and Garvey lead in the Senate race, well positioned for the runoff, polls show

The poll shows Garvey favored by 27% of likely voters, followed by Schiff with 25%, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) with 19% and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) with 8%, while 12 % of voters prefer Garvey. likely voters choose a different candidate and 9% are undecided. The top two finishers will advance to the second round in November. According to the survey, Schiff would have a lead of 53% to 38%, with 9% still undecided, over Garvey.

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

From June 1973 through the 1981 Dodgers World Series victory, Garvey played first base in one of MLB’s most celebrated and enduring infields. For 8 1/2 seasons, that lineup almost always included Davey Lopes at second base, Ron Cey at third base and Bill Russell at shortstop.

How an innocent lie created one of the most iconic infields in Dodgers history

Cey declined to comment for this article. The Times was unable to reach Lopes and Russell.

Two members of the Dodgers 1981 championship team recently came out in support of one of their own


Garvey’s opponents for the Senate seat. In an announcement issued Wednesday by Lee’s office, Dusty Baker and Dave Stewart were named among the endorsers for Oakland




Baker and Stewart have ties to Northern California and spent part of their MLB careers in track and field.

Two of Steve Garvey’s former teammates just endorsed… not Steve Garvey for U.S. Senate

Tom Niedenfuer was a rookie pitcher for the Dodgers during the 1981 season. As a Florida native, Niedenfuer has watched 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 doing something like that,” Niedenfuer recently told The Times in a telephone interview. “He was always well spoken, good with the media, and certainly had his views, so it’s not surprising at all. And he’s always been a great businessman, so I’m really not surprised and I’ll be very successful with this.”

Asked if he could think of any weaknesses


As a politician, Niedenfuer could only think of one.

The only thing I can think of is that he’s not aggressive enough to shoot back at people with bad things because he’s such a good guy,” Niedenfuer said. ‘He’s not the kind to attack other people and other opponents. He has always been great to everyone. If there was any weakness, I’d say he’s too nice.

Reuss, who lives in Nevada, said he hasn’t followed Garvey’s campaign enough to have an opinion on his former teammate’s politics. But, Reuss added of Garvey, “He’s as genuine now as the day I met him.”

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

“Steve would be a good senator and a better choice than his opponents, especially the obnoxious Adam Schiff,” Porter told The Times in an email, adding that he and his wife have donated to Garvey’s campaign.

When asked by The Times if he had any stories demonstrating the qualities he thought would suit Garvey as a senator, Porter responded with this anecdote:

“On a Sunday afternoon, August 28, 1977, Garvey was playing a game against the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium, mired in the worst batting slump he had experienced in his 19-year Major League career. In his previous 84 at-bats, he had hit a miserable .139.

Porter, Schiff and Lee make the final pitch to the California Senate, while Garvey is nowhere to be seen

“Before that day’s game, two nuns introduced a young girl, who was disabled, to her favorite Dodger player Steve Garvey. During their conversation, the girl asked, ‘Will you hit me a home run today?’

‘Garvey said he’d try.

“That day, Garvey had the best offensive game he ever had. He collected five hits in five at bats, drove in five runs, hit two home runs, one a grand slam, and the Dodgers won 11 to 0.

“Steve told me years later that he still kept up a correspondence with the girl.”

At Cal State Northridge, Ross Porter is a voice from the past


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