One of the most prominent players in MLB history during the 1970s and early 1980s was Ron Cey. Cey was an integral part of the Dodgers team that won the 1981 World Series, and Cey boasted impressive stats throughout his MLB tenure. Cey also is remembered for his unique base running stance that landed him the nickname “The Penguin”. Here are some memories and statistics associated with “The Penguin” himself.
MLB History: Career Beginnings
Ron Cey played collegiate baseball for the Washington State Cougars. While playing collegiate baseball, he was given the nickname “The Penguin” for his unique baserunning style by his college coach, Chuck Brayton. Cey was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 3rd round of the MLB Draft in 1968. Cey made his MLB debut on September 3, 1971, pinch-hitting for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cey ended up striking out in the appearance, but one of the best careers in MLB history had begun.
MLB History: The 1977 Season
Following his MLB debut in 1971, Cey had only appeared in 11 games for the Dodgers and had 37 at-bats in 1972. 1973 is when Cey began to accelerate his career. Cey had a respectable .245 batting average while driving in 80 runs. His start in 1977, however, is one of the most impressive in MLB history. In April 1977, Cey maintained a batting average of .425. Cey hit nine home runs and drove in 29 runs over the span of 20 games. This hot-start for Cey would become one of the best starts in Dodgers history. Cey finished the 1977 season with a career-high 30 home runs and 110 RBIs. 1977 also marked the 4th straight year that Cey finished the season as an MLB All-Star.
In addition to Cey’s impressive April start and career-high production, Cey also produced a memorable moment for the Dodgers in the 1977 NLCS. The Dodgers trailed the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 in the 7th. With the bases loaded, Cey launched a grand slam into deep left field to tie the ball game at five apiece. The Phillies would go on to win the game, but the Dodgers took the series 3-1 after winning games two through four.
MLB History: 1981 World Series
The 1981 World Series saw the Los Angeles Dodgers meet the New York Yankees to compete for baseball’s ultimate prize. The Dodgers and the Yankees had recent history competing in the World Series. Prior to 1981, the Yankees defeated the Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. Ron Cey’s stellar performance in the fall classic earned him shared World Series MVP honors alongside the Dodgers Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager.
The Dodgers would find themselves in a hole early, dropping the first two games of the series to the Yankees. Manager Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers roared back, winning four games in a row to claim a 4-2 series win. Ron Cey had memorable moments on both offense and defense. His diving catch from third base to turn a double play in Game 3 is one of the most iconic plays from the series. His offense was equally as impressive, batting .350 with seven hits and six RBIs.
MLB History: Los Angeles and Beyond
Cey’s last season in Dodger blue would be 1982. Cey drove in 79 runs and batted .254. On January 19, 1983, Cey was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Cey had an impressive run with the Cubs. From 1983 – 1986, Cey batted .232 or higher and drove in an average of just over 71 runs per season. Cey was part of the Cubs playoff run in 1984 and was one win away from helping take the Cubs to the World Series.
Following his time with the Cubs, Cey ended his career with the Oakland Athletics in 1987. Cey only appeared in 45 games for the A’s, primarily assuming the DH role with some time in the infield as well. He still was able to bat a respectable .221 for the A’s before retiring from baseball.
Ron Cey will be remembered as one of the top third basemen in MLB history. Cey’s high production for the Dodgers as well as the Cubs proves how important he was to both franchises. Cheers, to a phenomenal career for “The Penguin”.
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