Cards All-Time Top 40 – Dizzy Dean #7

Cards All-Time Top 40 – Dizzy Dean #7

The Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with the Gas House Gang's 1934 MVP and Hall of Famer, right-handed pitcher Dizzy Dean.

Jay Hanna Dean

The Basics

Position

Throw

Total Yrs

Yrs in StL

W

ERA

SO

SV

Pitcher

Right

1930-'41, '47

1930-'37

134

2.99

1095

30

The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ

All-Star

MVP

Cy Young

Gold Glove

1953

1974

1

4

1934

NA

NA

Note: All stats and awards listed are for years as a Cardinal only.
Dean's career stats available from baseball-reference.com.

Voter Comments

Rob Rains (6): Folklore has made Dizzy Dean a hero, but his talent on the pitching mound alone earned him a place in Cooperstown and his ranking as the second greatest Cardinal pitcher of all time.

Four times he won 20 or more games, topped by 30 in 1934. He also led the National League in strikeouts four times and was a four-time All-Star and led the team in having fun every year of his career.

"Born 20 years later, Dean might have been even more successful as a pitcher but he would have been far less a character," Jack Newcombe wrote in a profile of Dean in Sport magazine in 1959. "He would have made a lot more money, but he would have had a lot less fun doing it."

Jerry Modene (11): Only the fact of his 1937 injury and subsequent decline keeps him from being a Top Five candidate. Like Sandy Koufax (1962-66), Dean (1932-37) was perhaps the greatest short-term wonder among starting pitchers in baseball history.

One of my favorite pieces of trivia is the fact that in 1935, Dean not only led the NL in wins with 28, but in saves. This was a day, of course, when the ace of a pitching staff was often brought in to save games; Lefty Grove was often used in the same fashion. Nowadays you don't see that, although Bob Gibson was brought in (on one day's rest after a complete game!) to take over for an ineffective Curt Simmons to pitch four innings in relief in the pennant-winning game over the Mets in 1964. More recently, the Diamondbacks used Randy Johnson in relief in Game Seven of the 2001 World Series (just as the Seattle Mariners had used Johnson in the 1995 postseason) after he had started and won Game Six.

Dean's personality, of course, nearly overshadowed his very real talent, but as Leo Durocher once said of Dean, "It's not bragging if you can back it up."

Ray Mileur (7): The "Ace" of the Gas House Gang, Dean is perhaps the most colorful player in St. Louis Cardinals history. Dizzy Dean, who turned to broadcasting for 20 years after his playing days were over, had a way with words on par with Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel.

Diz once pitched no-hit ball for eight innings against the Brooklyn Dodgers, finishing with a three-hit shutout in the first game of a doubleheader, his 27th win of the season. His brother Paul then threw a no-hitter in the nightcap, to win his 18th, to match the 45 wins that Diz had predicted the brothers would win that season. "Gee, Paul," Diz was heard to say in the locker room afterward, "if I'd a-known you was gonna throw a no-hitter, I'd a-thrown one too!"

Dizzy Dean once said "Anybody who's ever had the privilege of seeing me play knows that I am the greatest pitcher in the world." Between the ages of 23 and 26, he probably was the best pitcher of his time, winning 102 games for the Cardinals from 1933 to 1936.

A three-time 20 game winner, four time All-Star, Dean's best season came in 1934 when he won 30 games, the National League MVP and two complete games, including one shutout, in the World Series. His career was cut short due to an injury in the 1937 All-Star game that caused him to alter his pitching motion and eventually ruined his arm.

Brian Walton (6): His teenage son having received an offer to pitch semi-pro ball, Dean's father sold his cotton crop early to spring Dizzy from his commitment to the Army. And so began Dizzy Dean's baseball career. After Dean won 16 straight games, Cardinals scouts signed him.

Dean's natural instincts of a prankster eventually added to his fame and folklore, yet initially they may have also kept him in the minor leagues for a year longer than needed. In his first major league appearance at the age of 20, Dean tossed a three-hitter on the final day of the 1931 World Championship regular season.

Dizzy became a fixture for the Cardinals the following year and soon was famous, offering a unique blend of down-home temperament and genius, a combination perhaps topped only by Babe Ruth in the history of the game.

For those who might diminish Dean's 30 wins in 1934, be advised that it hadn't been accomplished in the NL since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1917 and has only been topped once in all of MLB in the intervening 72 years. His two-year record of 58 wins in '34-'35 has also never been surpassed since.

He not only won the Most Valuable Player Award in 1934, but placed a close second each of the next two seasons. Dean was truly an extraordinary pitcher.

Voter Comments Key: Voter (Individual Ranking); NR = Not Rated

Master List: To see our entire list of the greatest 40 Cardinals players of all-time as they are unveiled daily, click here.

© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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