The S.F. Giants’ front office displayed incredible stupidity by not renewing Dusty Baker’s contract. There was a personal issue between them, but the last time I heard, getting to the World Series is about winning. Baker is a winner. Now, ostensibly, the manager of the Giants will be their great left-fielder, Barry Bonds. His title may not say so, but take it to the bank.
Story of the Week
His father was an itinerant sharecropper. His mother died when he was three years old. His education ended in the second grade in the town of Chickalah, Arkansas.
But despite all such handicaps, Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean rose unflappably into a career as one of the best pitchers in baseball, and as a folk hero who brought great turns of the English language to radio and television. Few personalities ever commanded the public’s attention as joyously as Dizzy Dean.
In his first full season with the St. Louis Cardinals, he won 18 games, and led the National League in strikeouts and shutouts. In the following four seasons, he won 102 games, including 30 in 1934 and 28 in 1935. He once struck out 17 Chicago Cubs in nine innings. And in the 1934 World Series, he and brother, Paul, each won two games as their Gashouse Gang Cardinals defeated the Detroit Tigers.
When an injury shortened his playing career a few years later, Dizzy switched his showmanship to a seat behind the microphone. He then attained new heights as an innovator of language. "Hit that patata", "the guy looks a little hitterish to me", and "he slud into second base under the tag" are examples of Dean’s command of the language; I guess it was English.
His style proved so unusual that, in the summer of 1946, a group of Missouri schoolteachers complained to the Federal Communications Commission that his broadcasts were "replete with errors in grammar and syntax", and were having "a bad effect on the pupils." But in the public debate that followed, powerful voices were raised to champion Dizzy Dean, including that of the Saturday Review of Literature, would you believe.
What I remember about Dizzy Dean is his doing the Game of the Week on television with his partner, Buddy Blattner, also a former major league player. Dizzy sang "the Wabash Cannonball" to the delight of viewers around the country each and every Saturday, and to my delight as well.
Red Smith portrayed him in the New York Times in these words. "As a ballplayer, Dean was a natural phenomenon, like the Grand Canyon or the Great Barrier Reef. Nobody ever taught him baseball, or anything else for that matter. He was just doing what came naturally to him, both on the playing field and in the broadcast booth."
Paragraphs, even pages, would be needed to describe the antics of his Gashouse Gang St. Louis Cardinals; Dean was their ringleader. Suffice it to state that Dizzy enjoyed his life to the fullest as a player, and then as an announcer. He was always a public figure; Dizzy Dean loved people and people loved him. He was absolutely one-of-a-kind, and "I thunk that through!"
Last Week’s Trivia
Two NFL expansion teams won their very first game since the league began expansion in 1960. Who were they? The Houston Texans did it this year. The Minnesota Vikings did it in 1961.
Trivia Question of the Week
What Super Bowl featured co-MVP’s? Who were they? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.