Monday, June 20, 2016

BASEBALL'S DYNASTIES AND THE PLAYERS WHO BUILT THEM Omitted Bios ( Chapter 9 St. Louis Cardinals 1930-1934)

The story of the "Gashouse Gang" Cardinals has captivated fans for generations. Like the Baltimore Orioles of the nineteenth century, they ran the bases with reckless abandon and never backed down from a fight. Their swagger and determination endeared them to a generation of Depression-Era fans, who saw them as working class heroes. No one embodied the spirit of the club more than Dizzy Dean, a trash-talking, golden-armed bumpkin who won 102 games in a glorious four-year span. Dean would often boast of the feats he would accomplish on the mound beforehand, contending that "It ain't bragging if you can back it up." Today's omitted bio belongs to Dizzy's softer-spoken and less-accomplished brother Paul, whose promising career was cut short due to an arm injury sustained during his third season. Had there been a Rookie of the Year Award in 1934, Paul would undoubtedly have won it. Had he arrived in the majors sooner and retained his effectiveness a little longer, I would undoubtedly have included him in this chapter. 

BEST RECORD: (101-53/ 1931)
HALL OF FAME PLAYERS: Burleigh Grimes (P), Jesse Haines (P), Dizzy Dean (P), Chick Hafey (OF), Jim Bottomley (1B), Frankie Frisch (2B/ Mgr.), Leo Durocher (SS), Joe Medwick (OF), Dazzy Vance (P)


Paul Dean


            Dean lived in the shadow of his older brother throughout his brief career. Serious and somewhat reserved, he was strapped with the nickname “Daffy” to complement his loud-mouth brother’s wacky moniker. By most reports, he disliked it.

            Paul and Dizzy were the sons of Albert Monroe Dean, a tenant farmer in Arkansas. Their mother died of tuberculosis when they were quite young and parental guidance was lacking. The family moved to Yell County in 1920 and later to Oklahoma. Dizzy didn’t even finish elementary school.

            Paul got his start in the minors at the age of eighteen. He went 22-7 for the Columbus Redbirds in 1933 and made the parent club out of spring training the following year. Before the ’34 campaign began, Dizzy issued one of his famous boasts: “Me and Paul are gonna win forty-five games.” Dizzy carried his end of the bargain, prevailing in 30 contests. Paul closed the deal with a 19-11 record.    

            Had there been a Rookie of the Year Award in 1934, the younger Dean would have been a top candidate. Frankie Frisch once remarked that Paul was actually a better pitcher than his brother. “He didn’t need a curve,” said Frisch, “not when he threw the damnedest, heaviest sinker you ever saw. When a batter hit one of those pitches, his hands stung as painfully in July as if he’d swung at an icicle in December.”

            Mixing the sinker with a lively fastball, Dean averaged more strikeouts per nine innings than any pitcher in the circuit (including his loud-mouthed brother). In the second game of a doubleheader against Brooklyn on September 21, he tossed a no-hitter. Dizzy, who had allowed just three hits in the opener, was not to be outdone. “If I’da known [Paul] was gonna throw one, I’da thrown one, too,” he quipped.

            In the ’34 Series, the Dean Brothers accounted for their team’s entire win total. Paul tossed complete game victories in Games 3 and 6, getting charged with just 2 earned runs. Graphically demonstrating the difference between their personalities, Dizzy bought a plane with his World Series money while Paul bought a farm.

            Paul’s sophomore campaign was a carbon copy of his rookie effort, though he posted a slightly lower ERA and drew a few more assignments. He finished the season at 19-12. The Cardinals won 96 games, which was only good enough for second place that year. The following spring, Dizzy convinced Paul that they could get more money by holding out. When training camp opened, Paul stayed on his newly purchased Arkansas farm and told reporters: “They say I’m too young to be making so much money. Well, I’m old enough to win a danged lot of ball games for them.” With so many folks feeling the effects of the Great Depression, numerous journalists admonished the Dean Brothers for their greed. Manager Frankie Frisch commented acerbically: “There are ten million people out of work in this country yet Dizzy Dean is willing to sacrifice the income of approximately $50 to fill the role of a playboy.” Both players started the season with little or no conditioning. Paul ended up injuring his arm and was never effective again.

            From 1936-1941, Paul won just 12 games. In 1942, he appeared to be back in form, going 19-8 with the Houston Buffaloes. Signed by the Browns in ’43, he made just three appearances and ended up being released. After his playing days, he managed in the minors for several seasons. He later coached at the University of Plano in Dallas, Texas—a school for students with learning difficulties. For years, he made a living off of his Arkansas farm.

            The name of “Daffy” Dean was mentioned in assorted versions of Abbot and Costello’s famous “Who’s on First?” sketch. Dean also appeared in a 1934 comedy short alongside his brother. Shemp Howard, a member of the Three Stooges, starred in the eighteen-minute film, which was entitled “Dizzy and Daffy.” In it, Howard played a half-blind minor league pitcher who enhanced the reputation of the Dean Brothers by handing them their nicknames.


No comments:

Post a Comment