DIZ: Dizzy Dean and Baseball During the Great Depression by Robert Gregory

DIZ: Dizzy Dean and Baseball During the Great Depression

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An unsentimental and tellingly detailed, albeit limited, rundown on one of baseball's larger-than-life characters. Unlike Vince Staten (see below), Gregory (an Oklahoma-based broadcaster) does not essay a full-dress Dean portrait. Instead, he focuses on Dean's baseball career, which began on the sandlots of the American Southwest and ended in mid-1941, when an old injury forced the pitcher into retirement at age 31. In the comparatively few years that he played in the major leagues, Dizzy (a nickname the St. Louis Cardinal right-hander acquired during a stint in the US Army) accomplished more than enough to boost himself into the Hail of Fame--for example, winning 30 games (while his younger brother Paul posted 19 victories) during the 1934 season, and going on to split with Paul the four wins needed to vanquish the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. While Dean was a superstar on the mound (and, often, at bat or on the basepaths), the author leaves little doubt that he could be very hard to take--off as well as on the field. A headstrong showoff and braggart, the flaky hurler was given to explosive tantrums when denied his own way. Nor was he greatly esteemed by either club officials or his fellow members of the Gas House Gang, let alone opponents. Paradoxically, perhaps, Dean bore up well under adversity, soldiering on with considerable grace in the wake of a freak accident that devastated his overpowering fastball and induced an old adversary, Branch Rickey, to trade him to the Chicago Cubs. Gregory devotes only cursory attention to Dizzy's impoverished youth, apparently happy marriage, and postbaseball years, when he achieved national popularity as a radio/IV personality. Nonetheless, his like-it-was account should appeal to fans who delight in the summer game's bygone glories.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Viking