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Bill Dickey

Dickey's 38 games caught are a World Series record.
Catcher
Born: June 5, 1907(1907-06-05)
Bastrop, Louisiana
Died: November 12, 1993 (aged 86)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
August 15, 1928 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 8, 1946 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
Batting average     .313
Home runs     202
Runs batted in     1,209
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1954
Vote     80.16% (seventh ballot)

William Malcolm Dickey (June 5, 1907 – November 12, 1993) was a Major League Baseball player and manager. One of the most famous catchers in major league history, he played his entire career with the New York Yankees, with whom he appeared in eight World Series, winning seven.

Dickey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954.

Contents

Playing Career

Dickey, who was born in Bastrop, Louisiana, broke into the majors in 1928 and played his first full season in 1929. It was his first of ten seasons out of eleven with a .300+ batting average. Although his offensive production was overshadowed by Yankee greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, in the late 1930s Dickey posted some of the finest offensive seasons ever by a catcher, hitting over 20 home runs with 100 RBI in four consecutive seasons (1936 - 1939). His 1936 batting average of .362 was the highest single-season average ever recorded by a catcher (tied by Mike Piazza of Los Angeles Dodgers in 1997), until Joe Mauer of Minnesota Twins hit .365 in 2009.

Dickey was also noted for his ability to handle pitchers and his strong throwing arm. He was also known for his relentlessly competitive nature. In 1932, Dickey broke the jaw of Carl Reynolds with one punch in a 1932 game after they collided at home plate, and received a 30-day suspension and $1,000 fine as punishment.

Friendship with Lou Gehrig

In 1942, while still an active player, Dickey appeared as himself in the film The Pride of the Yankees, which starred Gary Cooper as the late Yankee captain and first baseman Lou Gehrig. Late in the movie, when Gehrig was fading due to the disease that would eventually take his life, a younger Yankee grumbled, in the locker room, "the old man on first needs crutches to get around!"--and Dickey, following the script, belted the younger player, after which he said the kid "talked out of turn."

Dickey had been regarded as Gehrig's best friend on the team, and while the title of Yankee captain remained officially vacant until it was awarded to Thurman Munson in 1976, Dickey was seen by many as the Yankees' new leader on the field.

Manager and Coach

After several seasons of offensive stagnation and time off during World War II, Dickey became the manager of the Yankees in the middle of the 1946 season and led the team to 3rd place in the American League. He retired after the season, having compiled 202 home runs, 1,209 RBI and a .313 batting average over his career.

In 1949, Dickey returned to the Yankees as first base coach and catching instructor to aid Yogi Berra in playing the position. In his trademark fractured English, Berra said, "Bill Dickey is learning me all of his experiences." Already a good hitter, Berra became an excellent defensive catcher. With Berra having inherited his uniform number 8, Dickey wore number 33 until the 1960 season.

Later Life

Dickey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954 and Berra in 1972, the year the Yankees retired uniform number 8 for both men. On August 22, 1988, the Yankees honored both catchers with plaques to be hung in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Dickey's called Berra "An elementary Yankee" who "is considered the greatest catcher of all time." This is in dispute, as there have been many fine catchers in baseball history (including, but not limited to, Berra, Johnny Bench and Roy Campanella).

Dickey was named in 1999 to The Sporting News list of Baseball's Greatest Players, ranking number 57, trailing Bench (16), Josh Gibson (18), Berra (40) and Campanella (50) among catchers. Also like those catchers, Dickey was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, but the fan balloting chose Berra and Bench as the two catchers on the team.

Dickey is currently the only Yankee with a retired number not yet featured on the YES Network series Yankeeography.

Dickey spent part of his retirement in the 1970s and 80's residing in the Yarborough Landing community on the shore of Millwood Lake in Southwestern Arkansas. He died in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1993.

In 2007, Dickey-Stephens Park opened in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The ballpark was named after Bill; his brother, former baseball player, Skeeter Dickey; and two famous Arkansas businessmen, Jack and Witt Stephens.

YankeesRetired8.svg
Bill Dickey's number 8 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1972

See also

External links

Preceded by
Johnny Neun
New York Yankees Manager
1946
Succeeded by
Bucky Harris
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