Editor’s note: With the St. Louis Cardinals heading into Game 7 of the World Series this evening (after a for-the-ages Game 6), Joe Guzzardi looks at what Dizzy Dean did with such an opportunity in 1934.
Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean pitched just six seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1932-1937 plus a single game in 1930. Those were the only years that Dean pitched more than 20 games in a single season. After Dean suffered an injury in the 1937 All-Star Game which ruined his career, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1938 and pitched ineffectively for three more seasons before retiring at 31.
But in 1934, that bleak end couldn’t have been further away. Dean went 30-7 on his way to the National League Most Valuable Player award and a 4-3 World Series championship for the Cardinals’ “Gashouse Gang” over the Detroit Tigers. Dizzy won Games 1 and 7; brother Paul, Games 3 and 6. In the final game, Dean pitched a masterful 11-0 shutout.
The Cardinals’ couldn’t believe how far Dean had come from his days in 1930 when he was a raw, obnoxious 20-year-old rookie. To the consternation of manager Gabby Street, Dean slept late, missed the team’s 10:00 A.M. practice and ran up charges at local stores which he expected the Cardinals to pay. Instead, the Cards warned local merchants not to extend Dean credit and put him on a $1 a day budget.
Exasperated by his antics, the Cards finally sent Dean down to its AAA Houston farm club where the pitcher met his future wife Pat. After a six-week courtship, the couple married. Dean, a new man, settled down and turned in a remarkable season. Dean led the Texas League with 26 wins, a 1.57 ERA and 303 strike outs. His performance earned him a spot in the Cardinals’ 1932 rotation where he won 18 games. In four subsequent seasons, Dean won 20, 30, 28 and 24 games.
Although Dean had only a second grade education (with him noting, “I didn’t so well in the first grade, either”) he shrewdly realized that every time he pitched, the stands were full. Dean reverted to his old self by routinely demanding during the season that his $8,500 contract be renegotiated. Owner Sam Breadon just as regularly turned Dean down. The pitcher would then leave the team, often for days at a time.
But the Cardinals forgave all after Dean’s 11-0 clincher in Detroit. A huge tickertape parade awaited the team with the Dean brothers and their spouses in the lead convertible. Dean, to wild applause, sat in the front seat swinging a stuffed tiger doll from the end of a noose.
After street cleaners swept up the confetti, the Deans left for a two week barnstorming tour against an All Star Negro League team and followed it up with a week on Broadway performing vaudeville routine before finally filming a Warner Brothers short film, Dizzy & Daffy with one of the Three Stooges.
Dozens of personal appearances and endorsement deals later Dean, who the Cards had once limited to a measly $1 a day and whose winning series share was $5,300, earned nearly $75,000 in just a few short months.