Dizzy Dean, Daffy Dean and the Gashouse Gang

Well, today’s the day…Hall of Fame election day.  Going in, no doubt, will be Braves greats Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.  We’ll see who else ends up in there.

Speaking of Hall of Famers (and particularly Hall of Fame pitchers), let’s get to talking about one half of today’s funny-named tag team, Dizzy Dean. Jay Hanna Dean (1910-1974), was as entertaining off the field as he was exceptional on it.

Born in Logan County, Arkansas – a county with not one, but two county seats – the one and only Diz would quit school and join the Army at age 16. It is debatable as to where his nickname came from, but perhaps the most popular explanation is that it resulted from an incident during his Army days. According to the story, an Army sergeant found Dean throwing peeled potatoes against garbage can lids, prompting the sarge to shout “you dizzy son-of-a-bitch!”

A few years later, Diz would be in the big leagues, where he would have significant success in a career shortened by injury. Diz finished his career with a 150-83 won-loss record, to go along with a 3.02 ERA, four all-star selections, and an MVP award. His number 17 is retired by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dizzy is famous for leading the 1934 “Gashouse Gang” Cardinals team to a World Series championship.  This team, so named due to their shabby appearance and rough and tumble tactics, consisted of numerous awesomely-named players, such as Dazzy Vance, Ducky Medwick, Pepper Martin, and the other Dean brother, Daffy. Paul Dee “Daffy” Dean was the lesser pitcher of the two, but he still put up a respectable 50-34 record with a 3.72 ERA over his time in the big leagues.

However, Daffy’s nickname was more of a media creation than anything else, and the boisterous Dizzy Dean usually referred to his quiet, serious brother by his first name, Paul.

You don't have to be a genius to get on the cover of Time! (Note that he is called Jerome Herman Dean on the cover. He went by that name sometimes.)

You don’t have to be a genius to get on the cover of Time! (Note that Dizzy is called Jerome Herman Dean on the cover. He went by that name sometimes.)

In later years, the grammatically-challenged Dizzy became one of baseball’s more popular, and quotable, broadcasters. Among some of Dizzy’s better quotes:

-“The doctors X-rayed my head and found nothing.”

-“The good Lord was good to me. He gave me a strong body, a good right arm, and a weak mind.”

-“Well what’s wrong with ain’t? And as for saying (Phil) Rizzuto slud into second’ it just ain’t natural. Sounds silly to me. Slud is something more than slid. It means sliding with great effort.”

-“It puzzles me how they know what corners are good for filling stations. Just how did they know gas and oil was under there?”

-“Let the teachers teach English and I will teach baseball. There is a lot of people in the United States who say isn’t, and they ain’t eating.”

To close, here’s the great Ogden Nash on Jay Hanna Dean:

D is for Dean,
The grammatical Diz,
When they asked, Who’s the tops?
Said correctly, I is.

You go, Dizzy and Daffy Dean!

About Rob

Huge San Diego Padres fan, working as an economic consultant in Pasadena, CA. Contributor to the Funny Names Blog. funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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17 Responses to Dizzy Dean, Daffy Dean and the Gashouse Gang

  1. Dave says:

    Wow… this one is giving Ossee and Rube a run for their money! Great anecdotes. I’d love to assemble a team filled with guys like Dazzy Vance, Ducky Medwick, Pepper Martin, and Daffy Dean.

    • Rob says:

      Ducky Medwick is such a good ballplayer name. There’s probably a whole book out there on Dizzy Dean stories. He was a hell of a guy!

  2. wdydfae says:

    This was really enjoyable. I got a kick out of those quotes! They reminded me of “Yogi-isms”!

  3. ksbeth says:

    like the disney duck family

  4. Dave says:

    Fun fact: Rob used to go to parties and introduce himself as “Greg Maddux” and nobody ever seemed to know he was talking about the now-hall of fame pitcher.

  5. Liz says:

    Who knew? Thanks for filling us in, Rob. I’m thinking Dizzy must have been plenty popular with the ladies. Good-looking guy. And I am hear-by entering the word “slud” into my working vocab.

  6. Arto says:

    Gotta say Dizzy got the last word on all those proper English speakers at the end there. Whammy!

    Great potato story too. That sergeant must be proud to have entered something so cool into the history books.

    Any relation with legendary English ball player Dixie Dean I wonder? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixie_Dean

    • Arto says:

      To reply to myself, which normal people do all the time I’m sure, I just found this great anecdote about Dixie :

      “Dean initially played for his local club, Tranmere Rovers…where he was on the receiving end of a tough challenge which resulted in him losing a testicle in a reserve game against Altrincham. Immediately following the challenge, a teammate rubbed the area to ease the pain. Dean shouted “Don’t rub ’em, count ’em!””

  7. I never know which I love more fer. the great and continuous stream of funny names or the attention to some of my favorite old timey baseball players.
    Great Post about a couple definite star hangers.

  8. Pingback: Funny Names in the News 100! The Mega Sized Centenarian Edition | The Blog of Funny Names

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