Hall of Fame: Bill Dickey (1954)

Another great Yankee catcher.

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG *OPS+  TB   SH
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
1928 21 NYY AL 10 15 1 3 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .400 56 6 0
1929 22 NYY AL 130 447 60 145 30 6 10 65 5 3 14 16 .324 .346 .485 117 217 11
1930 23 NYY AL 109 366 55 124 25 7 5 65 7 1 21 14 .339 .375 .486 120 178 9
1931 24 NYY AL 130 477 65 156 17 10 6 78 2 1 39 20 .327 .378 .442 120 211 7
1932 25 NYY AL 108 423 66 131 20 4 15 84 2 4 34 13 .310 .361 .482 121 204 2
1933 26 NYY AL 130 478 58 152 24 8 14 97 3 4 47 14 .318 .381 .490 135 234 5
1934 27 NYY AL 104 395 56 127 24 4 12 72 0 3 38 18 .322 .384 .494 132 195 3
1935 28 NYY AL 120 448 54 125 26 6 14 81 1 1 35 11 .279 .339 .458 109 205 2
1936 29 NYY AL 112 423 99 153 26 8 22 107 0 2 46 16 .362 .428 .617 158 261 0
1937 30 NYY AL 140 530 87 176 35 2 29 133 3 2 73 22 .332 .417 .570 145 302 1
1938 31 NYY AL 132 454 84 142 27 4 27 115 3 0 75 22 .313 .412 .568 143 258 1
1939 32 NYY AL 128 480 98 145 23 3 24 105 5 0 77 37 .302 .403 .513 133 246 4
1940 33 NYY AL 106 372 45 92 11 1 9 54 0 3 48 32 .247 .336 .355 82 132 2
1941 34 NYY AL 109 348 35 99 15 5 7 71 2 1 45 17 .284 .371 .417 109 145 1
1942 35 NYY AL 82 268 28 79 13 1 2 37 2 2 26 11 .295 .359 .373 108 100 0
1943 36 NYY AL 85 242 29 85 18 2 4 33 2 1 41 12 .351 .445 .492 173 119 1
1946 39 NYY AL 54 134 10 35 8 0 2 10 0 1 19 12 .261 .357 .366 101 49 2
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
17 Seasons 1789 6300 930 1969 343 72 202 1209 37 29 678 289 .313 .382 .486 127 3062 51

11 All-Star Games (1933, 1934, 1936-1943, 1946)

William Malcolm Dickey was born on June 5, 1907 in Bastrop, Louisiana. It didn’t take him long to make it to the majors, doing so at age 21, but he wouldn’t be the full-time catcher until the next season.

From that moment in 1929, Dickey would have one of the greatest careers ever for a catcher. He rattled off six consecutive seasons of hitting over .300, and over his first 13 seasons, he would play over 100 games every season, a major-league record that still stands today. At the beginning of his career, he was overshadowed by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio. He would continue to put up solid numbers until 1935 when his averaged dropped below .300 for the first time. Upset over such a travesty, Dickey took no prisoners over the next four seasons as his average and power jumped, and he would not post an OPS+ under 130. The demands of catching for so many seasons, however, started to take their toll. His power and average would dramatically drop from 24 to 9 home runs and .302 to .247. Two years later, his string of 100+ games played would end. After the 1943 season, he enlisted in the army, but he came back for one more try in 1946, but Dickey only played 54 games.

Obviously a great hitter, Dickey was also a great backstop. He was an excellent handler of pitchers, and his tutelage and guidance helped Lefty Gomez settle down. If base runners tried to steal, he gunned them down. The one negative about Dickey could have been his competitive nature. Usually a good thing, he could get carried away. In 1932, Washington Senator Carl Reynolds ran over him at home plate. A furious Dickey whaled on Reynolds. One punch and a broken jaw later, Dickey had himself a 30-day suspension and a $1,000 fine. Dickey did have a softer side. He was Gehrig’s best friend and the first to know about his debilitating disease.

Dickey would go on to be a coach in 1949. He would be essential to Yogi Berra’s career, even though the young catcher had stolen his number (Dickey would wear 33; actually, Dickey, who’s number was retired in 1972 in a joint ceremony with Berra, would not wear the number at the beginning or end of his career as a Yankee). Five years later, Dickey was elected to the Hall of Fame with 202 of the 252 (80.2%) votes.

Fun fact, well kind of depressing I guess: Dickey is the only Yankee with a retired number who has not been featured by YES Network’s Yankeeography. Travesty.

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