Steven Patrick Garvey (born December 22, 1948), nicknamed "Mr. Clean" because of the squeaky clean image he held throughout his career in baseball, is an American former Major League Baseballfirst baseman and current Southern California businessman. Garvey was the 1974 NL MVP, ten-time All-Star, and holds the National League record for consecutive games played (1,207).
Garvey credits Michigan State Spartan head football coach Duffy Daugherty encouraging him to be a multi-sport athlete in his choosing MSU.2 He recorded 30 tackles and earned a letter as a defensive back in 1967.3 His first at-bat in a Spartan uniform resulted in a grand-slam home run, with the ball landing in the Red Cedar River. 4 His baseball jersey number 10 was retired from Michigan State University in 2014, 5 he was named Michigan State Baseball Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2009,6 and he was inducted into the Michigan State University Hall of Fame in 2010. 7 Garvey was featured in the LA Times as one of the three Spartan athletes that have helped Los Angeles professional sports teams win a combined 7 world championships.8
Garvey was part of the most enduring infield in baseball history9 along with third baseman Ron Cey, shortstop Bill Russell and second baseman Davey Lopes. The four infielders stayed together as the Dodgers' starters for eight and a half years.
Garvey is one of only two players to have started an All-Star Game as a write-in vote, doing so in 1974. That year he won the NL MVP award, and had the first of six 200-hit seasons. Only 15 players in all of Major League Baseball history have had six or more 200 hit seasons (as of the end of 2010).
With the Dodgers, he played in 1,727 games over 14 seasons and hit .301 with 211 homers and 992 RBI. He was selected to 8 All-Star Games, and won the All-Star Game MVP Award for the 1974 and 1978 games. He also won the 1981 Roberto Clemente Award, finished in the top 10 in the NL MVP Award voting 5 times and won four straight Gold Glove Awards from 1974-1977.
In December 1982 Garvey signed with the Padres for $6.6 million over five years in what some felt was a "masterstroke" to General Manager Jack McKeon's effort to rebuild the team.10 Though San Diego had vastly outbid the Dodgers, McKeon particularly noted Garvey's value in providing a role model for younger players.11 Additionally, Garvey's "box office appeal"—his impending departure from the Dodgers provoked some Girl Scouts to picket the stadium—helped San Diego increase its season ticket sales by 6,000 seats in Garvey's first year.11Sports Illustrated ranked the signing as the fifteenth best free agent signing ever as of 2008.12
His first season in San Diego allowed him to break the National League's record for consecutive games played, a feat that landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated as baseball's "Iron Man."13 (In an unusual homecoming, Garvey tied the record in his first appearance back at Dodger Stadium in Padre gold.14)
It was Garvey's second season in San Diego, however, that would provide his highlight in a Padres uniform. Led by Garvey, winning his second National League Championship SeriesMVP award, the Padres won their first National League pennant over the Chicago Cubs in 1984.15 Game 4, "the best game of the series, and one of the best games in memory," provided a particularly notable effort by Garvey.16 His hot bat provided excellent insurance for the top of the order, including future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who drew an intentional walk that Garvey converted into one of his four crucial RBI.16 After supplying critical hits in the third, fifth, and seventh innings, Garvey capped off his efforts with a two-run walk-off home run off future all-time saves leader Lee Smith in the 9th inning.16 As he rounded third base, Garvey, who after the game would be compared by teammates to fictional baseball hero Roy Hobbs, was met by fellow Padres who later carried him off the field in celebration.16 Following the 7–5 Padres victory, grateful fans thronged against stadium barricades chanting Garvey's name.15 Garvey, about to play in his fifth World Series, called the experience "the greatest playoffs I've ever seen."17
Garvey set a National League record with 1207 consecutive games played, from September 3, 1975, to July 29, 1983. The streak ended when he broke his thumb in a collision at home plate against the Atlanta Braves. It is the fourth-longest such streak in Major League Baseball history.
He is a member of the Irish American Hall of Fame18 and the Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame.19 Steve Garvey Junior High School, in Lindsay, California, is named for him.20 Garvey's jersey No. 6, worn when he was both a Padre and Dodger is retired by the Padres. His number was displayed at the site of his 1984 NLCS home run in right field at Qualcomm Stadium.
Garvey, a Republican who harbored political ambitions after baseball, earned the nickname "Senator" from teammates. Those aspirations diminished after the public learned embarrassing details of his personal life.
Also, starting in the mid-1980s he began the Steve Garvey celebrity Blue Marlin tournament, as well as the Steve Garvey celebrity skiing challenge. These were featured on episodes of the ESPN co-hosted with wife Candace Garvey starting in 1989.
Garvey spent 15 years in the Community Affairs department for the Dodgers, where he was a greeter for VIP season ticket holders and a consultant for community relations.21 He was fired by the team on July 8, 2011 after some public comments he made critical of Dodger owner Frank McCourt and his involvement in a group trying to take over ownership of the team.22 Garvey subsequently put together a group, that also included fellow former Dodger Orel Hershiser, that became involved in the bidding process for the Dodgers when the team was later put up for sale in 2012. His group did not make it past the first round of the bidding.2324
Garvey, who made over $10 million in his career only to go broke afterwards,25 currently serves as a member of the board of the Baseball Assistance Team, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping former Major League, Minor League, and Negro League players through financial and medical hardships.
Garvey, known as "Mr. Clean," seemingly had a "clean" personal life during his early playing days. Manager Tommy Lasorda once commented, "If he ever came to date my daughter, I'd lock the door and not let him out."25 In the mid to late-1980s, however, Garvey engaged in a series of over-lapping relationships.
At the age of 22, Garvey married Cynthia Truhan."25 They married in 1971. They had two children, Krisha and Whitney. Cynthia left Garvey for famed composer Marvin Hamlisch.25 (Cyndy would later claim Garvey "gave me away" to Hamlisch after a private two-hour conversation.25). Garvey was already romantically involved with his secretary.25 The couple divorced in 1983.
Garvey discovered in July 1988 that Cheryl Moulton was pregnant with his child, Ashleigh, a pregnancy Garvey subsequently claimed was intentional on Moulton's part, but without his "consent."25
Although Moulton was pregnant with his child, Garvey proposed to Rebecka Mendenhall, who was unaware of Moulton, in November 1988. Garvey and Mendenhall had been in a relationship since August of 1986. He claimed to have asked her to become engaged because of what he termed her "ultimatum" to move on.
In January 1989, Garvey also became engaged to Candace Thomas, whom he met at a benefit for the Special Olympics. He broke the engagement with Mendenhall in a phone call the night of January 23rd, within hours after learning she was pregnant. Their only child, Slade, was born October 13, 1989.
Over the next few weeks, Garvey and Candace Thomas began a whirlwind courtship that included trips to the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush and the Super Bowl.25
When these details became public, Garvey's post-baseball political ambitions were widely seen to have disappeared under the weight of two illegitimate children.25 Garvey, in the midst of what he later termed a "midlife disaster," sued Cyndy, his ex-wife, for access to his two children.25 His daughters testified in court they did not love their father and did not wish to see him.25 (Cyndy was handcuffed and jailed, based on 167 counts of contempt.25) Under the shadow of multiple lawsuits and damage to his reputation, Garvey lost business opportunities, declared himself broke, and found himself paying half his monthly television earnings in child support,25 and millions in legal fees. He and Candace Thomas married in February 1989, and had three children, Ryan, Olivia, and Sean. The Garveys remain happily married almost 25 years and still reside in Southern California.
In the fall of 2012, Garvey underwent an operation to treat prostate cancer, and continues to raise awareness for diagnosis and treatment of the disease.27