Sports

By The Numbers: Dizzy Dean, The Gashouse Gang’s Real Gasser

Statue of Jay Hanna 'Dizzy' Dean in St. Louis. (credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Statue of Jay Hanna ‘Dizzy’ Dean in St. Louis. (credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

NEW YORK SPORTS HEADLINES

Get our weekday morning briefs direct from the WFAN newsroom
Sign Up

By Father Gabe Costa
» More Columns

Whether he was really Jerome Herman Dean or Jay Hanna Dean, he was immortalized by the nick name Dizzy. He was the centerpiece of the Gashouse Gang, the St. Louis Cardinals of the 1930s.

Dean was a brash braggart, blessed with a great right arm. He was a character among  characters; some of his teammates were his brother Paul “Daffy” Dean, Ducky Joe Medwick, Pepper Martin, Leo Durocher, Frankie Frisch, Dazzy Vance and Burleigh Grimes. They caroused, fought with both opponents and with each other and, as a team, brought joy to countless fans.

In 1937, at the age of 27, Dean had just completed four consecutive 20-plus victory campaigns, including a 30-7 season in 1934 and 28-12 season in 1935.  He was on his way to becoming one of the all time great hurlers.

However, during the third inning of the 1937 All-Star game, which was played in Washington, D.C., a line drive hit by future Hall of Famer Earl Averill struck Dean on the foot.

When Dean returned to the mound to assume his hurling duties, his natural pitching motion was altered… and Dean was never to be the same dominant pitcher he had once been.

After leaving the Cardinals after the 1937 season, he spent three years with the Chicago Cubs compiling a 16-8 record, effectively ending his career. He would pitch one more inning for the Cubs in 1941 and, oddly enough, six years later he would pitch four innings for the St. Louis Browns.

The following numbers were put up by Dean:

Seasons

12

Innings Pitched

1967.1

W-L

150-83

PCT

.644

ERA

3.02

WHIP

1.206

Complete Games

154

Shutouts

26

K/BB

2.57

Pennants

2 (’34, ’38)

World Championship

1 (’34)

Hall of Fame

1953

To say that Dean was “quotable” would be an understatement. Here’s a sample, courtesy baseball-almanac.com.

“Anybody who’s ever had the privilege of seeing me play knows that I am the greatest pitcher in the world.”

“He (Branch Rickey) must think I went to the Massachusetts Constitution of Technology.”

“He (Bill Terry) once hit a ball between my legs so hard that my center-fielder caught it on the fly backing up against the wall.”

“He slud into third.”

“Heck, if anybody told me I was setting a record (strikeouts in a game on July 30, 1933) I’d of got me some more strikeouts.”

“I ain’t what I used to be, but who the hell is?”

“I can’t tell you why there’s a delay, but stick your head out of the window and you’ll know why.”

“If Satch (Paige) and I were pitching on the same team, we would clinch the pennant by July fourth and go fishing until World Series time.”

“I never keep a scorecard or the batting averages. I hate statistics. What I got to know, I keep in my head.”

“It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.”

“It puzzles me how they know what corners are good for filling stations. Just how did they know gas and oil was under there?”

“I won twenty-eight games in thirty-five and I couldn’t believe my eyes when the Cards sent me a contract with a cut in salary. Mr. Rickey said I deserved a cut because I didn’t win thirty games.”

“Let the teachers teach English and I will teach baseball. There is a lot of people in the United States who say isn’t, and they ain’t eating.”

Mr. Rickey, I’ll put more people in the park than anybody since Babe Ruth.”

“Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss.”

“The Cards had one pitcher who won fourteen straight games in a period of twenty-four days. Then when he lost his fifteenth game 1-0, his manager fined him fifty bucks.”

“The doctors x-rayed my head and found nothing.”

“The dumber a pitcher is, the better. When he gets smart and begins to experiment with a lot of different pitches, he’s in trouble. All I ever had was a fastball, a curve and a changeup and I did pretty good.”

“The good Lord was good to me. He gave me a strong body, a good right arm, and a weak mind.”

“Well what’s wrong with ain’t? And as for saying ‘Phil Rizzutoslud into second’,  it just ain’t natural. Sounds silly to me. Slud is something more than slid. It means sliding with great effort.”

Dizzy Dean was a throwback. I remember watching him and listening to both Dean and Pee Wee Reese on the CBS Game of the Week about 50 years ago. As always, Dean was colorful, personable and the ultimate “Gashouser.”

When Dizzy Dean died in 1974, at the age of 64, Major League Baseball lost one of the “uniquest” (as Diz himself might say!) stars it was blessed to showcase.

What’s your favorite memory of Dizzy Dean? Let us know in the comments below!