This series was originally published at the Redbird Daily, but is now proud to call Cards Conclave home. This installment was written by Austin Lamb.
#6. Dizzy Dean – SP (1930, 1932-1937, 4x All-Star, MVP, HOF)
Our countdown is nearing the end as today we take a look at one of the greatest Cardinal pitchers in history, Dizzy Dean.
Jay Hanna Dean, or as he was sometimes known Jerome Herman Dean, was born in Lucas, AR in 1910. Dean only attended school through the second grade, and it was here that he earned his nickname. Those around him dubbed him “Dizzy” due to his outgoing and unique personality. According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Dean was discovered playing on a Texas sandlot and given his first contract by a scout named Don Curtis.
Playing Career (1931-1934)
Dizzy Dean made his major league debut for the Cardinals in the final game of the 1930 season. His lone appearance was a complete game in which he yielded just one run on three hits. Dean did not return to the big leagues until 1932 at the age of 22.
Dean’s first full season in the majors would mark a string of incredible seasons while wearing the birds on the bat. That season he led the league in innings pitched (286), shutouts (4), strikeouts (191), K/9 (6.0) and batters faced (1,203). In addition to those stats he was 18-15 with a 3.30 ERA, but a 1.336 WHIP. He finished 19th in MVP and began a streak of five seasons finishing in the top 20.
1933 again brought another great season of production for Dean as he won 20 games while leading the league in games pitched (48) and complete games (26). His ERA fell to 3.04 and he significantly lowered his WHIP to 1.171. He also led the league in strikeouts (199) and K/9 (6.1) for the second consecutive season.
Dizzy Dean’s greatest season of his career came in 1934. That season he was 30-7, with a 2.66 ERA and 1.165 WHIP. Dean is the last pitcher in major league history to win 30 games in a season. He also led the league with seven shutouts, 195 strikeouts, a 9.1 WAR and was named to his first all-star team. Dean was further recognized for his dominant performance on the mound and was given the National League MVP award. 1934 also saw Dean win the only World Series championship of his career as he led the Cardinals to a 4-3 series victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Playing Career (1935-1947)
1935 and 1936 brought more of the same as Dean continued to carve up National League hitters. He posted 28 and 24 wins respectively in ’35 and ’36. While also leading the league in complete games and innings pitched both seasons. He also pitched the most games and led the league in saves in 1936. He was named to the all-star team each season and finished as the MVP runner-up both seasons as well.
The 1937 season would begin the end of Dean’s dominant career. During the all-star game he was struck in the toe with a line drive leading to a fracture. Instead of taking time for the injury to heal, Dean adjusted his pitching mechanics to alleviate pain in his toe. The tweak in mechanics caused injury to his pitching arm and the loss of his overpowering fastball.
In 1938 the Chicago Cubs bought Dean’s contract at the request of owner P.K. Wrigley. Dean pitched for the Cubs from 1938-1941, but was far from the pitcher he was in St. Louis. He did post a great 1.81 ERA in 1938, but only appeared in 13 games. In all he would make 33 starts for the Cubs going 16-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.226 WHIP.
The final game of his career came in 1947 when he threw four innings for the St. Louis Browns. The outing was largely a publicity stunt for the failing franchise and came after Dean was critical of the team’s pitchers while doing a radio broadcast. Even though it was just four innings, it seems very fitting that Dizzy Dean’s final outing was scoreless.
Post Playing Career
After retiring from playing, Dizzy Dean became a radio and television broadcaster. Over almost three decades in the booth, Dean called games for the Cardinals, Browns, Yankees and Braves. He also was featured on national broadcasts for ABC and CBS. Dean was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953, receiving 79.2% of the vote.
Tomorrow, Colin will bring you the next player in our countdown as we crack the top five.
Thanks for reading!