OL' DIZ: A Biography of Dizzy Dean by Vince Staten

OL' DIZ: A Biography of Dizzy Dean

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A comprehensive and entertaining biography that offers appreciably more detail on the life and times of the storied baseball star than does Robert Gregory's Diz (reviewed above). Staten (Unauthorized America, 1990--not reviewed) tracks Dean from his hardscrabble youth as the motherless son of a southwestern tenant farmer to his 1974 death at age 64. In between, the wayward, boastful Dean made an enduring name for himself as a major-league pitcher and broadcaster. Among other credentials, he was a high-profile member of the St. Louis Cardinals teams known as the Gas House Gang, which featured the likes of Leo Durocher, Frankie Frisch, and Pepper Martin. While with the Gang, Dean won 120 games in a five-season span. But within a couple of years after his spectacular 1934 World Series play, Dean, once a workhorse strikeout artist, was in eclipse, the victim of a freak injury that caused him to overtax his strong right--and pitching--arm. Days after his mid-1941 retirement, however, the grammar-school dropout was doing play-by-play radio commentary on the St. Louis Browns and Cards home games. Despite mangled syntax and verbal gaffes, the future Hall-of-Famer was held in high regard by audiences as well as sponsors, and his popularity enabled him to move into a lucrative career on network TV. Notwithstanding a couple of gambling scrapes, and thanks in large measure to a provident wife named Pat, Dean went to his grave a wealthy, respected man. Despite an obvious affection for his subject, though, Staten does not shrink from recounting instances of Dean's less lovable behavior--including examples of towering egotism, a consistently cavalier regard for truth, and bouts of physical cowardice. A scrupulously documented, well-rounded portrait of an American original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins