|Born: January 16, 1910|
|Died: July 17 1974 (aged 64)|
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|September 28, 1930
for the St. Louis Cardinals
|September 28, 1947
for the St. Louis Browns
|Earned run average||3.02|
|Career highlights and awards|
Jerome Hanna "Dizzy" Dean (January 16, 1910 – July 17, 1974) was an American pitcher in Major League Baseball, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was born in Lucas, Arkansas, and was a life-long resident of Wiggins, Mississippi. He was a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals (1930-1937), the Chicago Cubs (1938-1941), and briefly for the St. Louis Browns (1947).
After his pitching career was finished, Dizzy gained even more notoriety for his work as a baseball play-by-play announcer on the "Game of the Week," a televised baseball game every Saturday during the season. Together with another Hall of Famer, former Brooklyn Dodger shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, they became the faces and voices of baseball for a generation. He was well-known for playing up his country roots with a colorful homespun vocabulary of terms. Dizzy became something of an American institution, beloved by many baseball fans, and sometimes scorned by those who took exception to his fractured syntax.
Dizzy Dean was born on January 16, 1910, to Albert Monroe Dean and Alma Nelson Dean. His childhood was very hard due to his mother's death from tuberculosis at the age of eight, and lack of attention from his dad. The family moved to Yell County in 1920, and later to Oklahoma in 1924. He began to miss school frequently after his mom's death, dropping out altogether when he joined the army in 1926, at the age of 16.
Dean learned the fundamentals of pitching while serving in the United States Army, which he left in 1929 to pursue a baseball career. At his tryout for the St. Louis Cardinals he dazzled and amazed the scouts when he struck out three batters on only nine pitches. He was later called back by the team for a second look and repeated his earlier accomplishment, a feat that earned him a contract with their minor league affiliate, St.Joseph. He played for the minor league club in 1930 and 1931, and in the same year married his wife Patricia Nash on June 15, 1931. Dizzy started his major league career the next season when he was promoted to the big league club in 1932.
Dean's first full year in the big leagues showed the baseball world his amazing potential when he finished the season with 18 wins and 15 losses, with a ERA (Earned Run Average, or the number of runs allowed per nine innings of work) of 3.30. He finished nineteenth in the MVP balloting that year, proof that the baseball world had started to notice Dean's talent.
In the following season in 1933 he finished the season with a record of 20 wins and 18 losses, improved his ERA to 3.04, and lowered his walk total by 38. He was beginning to improve the control of his fastball, especially bewildering the Chicago Cubs batters with 17 strikeouts during a contest against the club on July 30, 1933. Dean finished seventh in MVP balloting in the 1933 season, and seemed ready for a breakout year.
The Gashouse Gang, as the Cardinals pitching staff would come to be known, quickly became America's darlings; they were composed of the Dean brothers, Dizzy and his broth Paul (also known as "Daffy") and Pepper Martin. These players became folk heroes during the Great Depression as America saw in these players an example of hard work and perseverance. Their hustle and dirty uniforms contrasted with their handsome and graceful opponents, the haughty, highly-paid New York Giants, whom the Cardinals were chasing for the National League pennant.
Before the start of the 1934 season, Dizzy predicted that he and his brother Paul would win a combined 45 games during the year. This would prove to be the year of years for the big right hander as he would finish the year with a record of 30-7, 195 strikeouts, and the National League Most Valuable Player award. His prediction of 45 combined wins between them was slightly off, as they finished the year with a total of 49 wins. His personal win total of 30 for the 1934 season would not be matched again for another third of a century when it was done by the Detroit Tiger's Denny McLain in 1968.
The success of the Dean brothers was infections to the whole team, as they progressed all the way to the 1934 World Series to face off with the Detroit Tigers. During the World Series the brothers accounted for all of the team's wins, and led them to the title, but it was Dizzy who came through in the clutch when he shut out the Detroit team 11-0 in the pivotal Game seven.
In Game four of the 1934 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Dean was sent to first base as a pinch runner. The next batter hit a ground ball that looked like a sure double play. Intent on avoiding the twin killing, Dean threw himself in front of the throw to first. The ball struck him on the head, and Dean was knocked unconscious and taken to a hospital. Although the Tigers went on the win the game 10-4, Dean recovered, clearing out the cobwebs in time to pitch in Game five.
When the Cardinals arrived in Detroit for the start of the World Series, Dean, still in his street clothes, walked up to batting cage during the Tigers practice. Dean grabbed a bat from a Tigers coach, and blasted a pitch over the fence, and turned to the coach and said, "I'm the worst hitter on our club."
In the 1935 season, Dean continued his hot pitching when he amassed a record of 28-12, with an ERA of 3.04. While his numbers suggested a successful season, numerous problems with Dean's attitude led to distractions away from the field, and limited the team's success.
These distractions continued in this next year with the team, as he went 24-13 with a 3.17 ERA, and finished the year second in MVP balloting for the second consecutive year.
In 1937 Dean was fighting fatigue and wanted to skip the All-Star Game but followed the instructions of the team owner Sam Breadon and reported to Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC. It would prove to be a bad decision, as a line drive struck off the bay of Earl Averill fractured Dean's toe in the third inning of the 8-3 loss for the National League. When told that his big toe was "fractured," Dean said, "Fractured, hell, the damn thing's broken!" Trying to pitch before his toe was completely healed, Dean put too much strain on his pitching arm. The result was arm troubles that put a virtual end to his pitching career.
With the lack of his great fastball, he was traded by his greedy General Manager Branch Rickey for three players and $185,000, one of the most expensive loss-leader contracts in baseball history to the Chicago Cubs. The dead-armed Dean had his last good moment of his career when he pitched in the 1938 World Series; it was known as "Ol' Diz's Last Stand." With nothing more than his wit left, Dean held a 3-2 led over the New York Yankees, until late home runs by Joe DiMaggio and Frank Crosetti gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the series.
He limped along for the Cubs until 1941, when he retired. Between the ages of 23 and 27, he was arguably the best pitcher in baseball; by 28, he was just another pitcher, and at 31 he was done.
Dizzy Dean made a one-game comeback on September 28, 1947. After retiring as a player, the perennially cash-poor Browns hired the still-popular Dean as a broadcaster to drum up some badly needed publicity. After broadcasting several poor pitching performances in a row, he grew frustrated, saying on the air, "Doggone it, I can pitch better than nine out of the ten guys on this staff!" The wives of the Browns pitchers complained, and management, needing to sell tickets somehow, took him up on his offer and had him pitch the last game of the season. At age 37, Dean pitched four innings, allowing no runs, and rapped a single in his only at-bat. Rounding first base, he pulled his hamstring. Returning to the broadcast booth at the end of the game, he said, "I said I can pitch better than nine of the ten guys on the staff, and I can. But I'm done. Talking's my game now, and I'm just glad that muscle I pulled wasn't in my throat."
After his playing career, Dean became a well-known sportscaster, famous for his wit and often-colorful butchering of the English language. Much like football star-turned-sportscaster Terry Bradshaw years later, he chose to build on, rather than counter, his image as a not-too-bright country boy, as a way of entertaining fans: "The Good Lord was good to me. He gave me a strong right arm, a good body, and a weak mind." He once saw Browns outfielder Al Zarilla slide into base, and said, "Zarilla slud into third!" Later, doing a game on CBS, he said, over the open mike, "I don't know why they're calling this the Game of the Week. There's a much better game, Dodgers and Giants, over on NBC." Every so often, he would sign off by saying, "Don't fail to miss tomorrow's game!" These manglings of the language only endeared him to fans, and served as a precursor for such beloved ballplayers-turned-broadcasters as Ralph Kiner, Herb Score and Jerry Coleman, who are also as well known for their malapropisms as for their baseball knowledge.
An English teacher once wrote to him, complaining that he shouldn't use the word "ain't" on the air, as it was a bad example to children. On the air, Dean said, "A lot of folks who ain't sayin' 'ain't,' ain't eatin'. So, Teach, you learn 'em English, and I'll learn 'em baseball."
Dean is often blamed for sportscasters' fond misuse of the word, "nonchalant." Once describing a player who had struck out, Dean reportedly said, "he nonchalantly walks back to the dugout in disgust."
On December 5, 2006, Dean was nominated for the Ford Frick Award, which enshrines legendary announcers of the sport into the broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
For all of Dean's success on the field, he was known for making quite a bit of money off of it as well. Dean became one of the forerunners in the baseball world for making revenue for off the field endorsements. Under his wife's direction, Dizzy became genius at exploiting the media and making money off anything from clothing, to caps, to toothbrushes. The media was very favorable to the young pitcher, and instead of finding his cockiness as a negative, they perceived it as confidence. Sometimes, though, Dizzy Dean took it too far, such as the time he threw hittable pitches to Pittsburgh Pirate hitters because he was disgusted with the umpiring. One time during a exhibition game in St.Paul, Minnesota, he refused to take the field for the game, leading to writers all over the country criticizing him for not appreciating his duty to the game that had treated him so well.
By the early 1970s, Dean's weight had ballooned to approximately 300 pounds. Dean died at age 64 in Reno, Nevada of a massive heart attack. Although Dean would sometimes be questioned for his off the field antics and actions, no one could doubt his pitching ability. He finished his career with a 3.02 ERA and 150 wins to only 83 losses. He was a clutch pitcher when it counted, especially in the World Series, and usually backed up his bravado with his play on the field. Despite having what amounted to only half a career, in 1999, he ranked Number 85 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. A Dizzy Dean Museum was established at 1152 Lakeland Drive in Jackson, Mississippi. The building was significantly expanded, and the Dean exhibit is now part of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, located adjacent to Smith-Wills Stadium, a minor-league baseball park. The street leading into it is named for another Baseball Hall-of-Famer who lived in Mississippi, Negro Leagues legend James "Cool Papa" Bell.
All links retrieved October 17, 2017.
|National League Strikeout Champion
|National League Most Valuable Player
|Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
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