Friday, March 4, 2011

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Dazzy Vance | Baseball Digest

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Dazzy Vance | Baseball Digest

Dazzy Vance was born on March 4, 1891 in Orient, IA and raised in Nebraska. Baseball was not actually a part of his life until he was a teenager and he would be a late bloomer in his career as well. He broke into the big leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1915, but lasted only one game. He was then bought out by the New York Yankees, whom he didn’t do much to impress over a 10 game span in 1915 and 1918. An elbow injury from his off-season boxing/training regimen also slowed his progress to “The Show”.

It would be four years before Vance returned to the Major Leagues. That’s when the Brooklyn Robins (who would later become the Dodgers) bought him from the New Orleans Pelicans of the Southern Association. No longer a kid at 31, Vance started to become the player that would eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in 1955.

He won 86 games in a four year stretch, and led the league in victories in 1924 (28) and 1925 (22). He would average just under 15 wins a game over the next seven seasons (topping 20 wins one more time in 1928), leading the league in ERA twice. From 1922-1928 Vance led the National League in strikeouts, topping the 200 mark three times. Nothing topped the ’24 season though when Vance led the NL in every major category and captured the MVP award.

Vance spent parts of the 1933-34 seasons with St. Louis, which does indeed mean the Cardinals had a Dizzy (Dean), Daffy (Dean), and Dazzy on their roster. Dazzy actually was given his nickname as a child though his given name differs depending on the source. has him listed as Charles Arthur Vance while the Baseball Hall of Fame has him listed as Clarence Arthur Vance. His biography points out the reason for the confusion (toh to Neil of Baseball Reference). At birth, no first name is listed- apparently the doctor left before Dazzy’s parents chose a first name. His mother Sarah kept the children’s names (they had six) in a bible and listed it as “Charles Arthur Vance”. However, about the time he started playing minor league ball, Dazzy started going by “Arthur Charles Vance”.

Later on as a Major Leaguer, he jokingly told a reporter (who was unaware) that his real name was “Clarence”, which led to him being known as either “Arthur Clarence Vance” or “Clarence Arthur Vance”. However, when the BBWAA elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1955, Vance told them to use “Arthur Charles Vance”. He may be Dazzy, but I can’t blame you if you are dizzy right now. As for the Dazzy nickname, the Vances had a neighbor who would mispronounce the word “daisy” as dazzy. He also meant it as “Isn’t she a beaut? (daisy)”. As a child Dazzy picked up on the expression, was tagged with the nickname and it stuck.

Michael Gaven of the New York Journal-American wrote “His Curve Was The Most”, an article discussing Vance’s great curveball that helped pave the way to his 1955 election to the Hall. Click here to read all about it.

Vance was also part of the infamous “three men at 3rd base” play. With Vance on 2nd base and Chick Fewster at 1st, Babe Herman hit a gapper in the outfield. The 3rd base coach yelled for Herman to hold up because he would catch Fewster, but Herman didn’t hear him and continued on. Unfortunately, Vance did hear him, thinking it was intended for him, stopped on the way home and returned to 3rd…where he met Fewster and Herman. The two were tagged out for a double play while Vance was ruled safe. Truly Dazzy.

Vance retired after returning to Brooklyn for one more season in 1935 (he was 44-yrs old). He finished with 197 career wins, a 3.24 ERA, one no-hitter, and 2,045 strikeouts. He passed away in 1961.

Also Born Today

Lefty O’Doul (1897-1969): Born Francis Joseph in San Francisco, CA, O’Doul was a .349 career hitter (.945 OPS) as a member of the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Phillies, and Dodgers from 1919-1934. His best season was in 1929 when he finished second in the NL MVP voting after he hit .398 with 32 HR, 122 RBI, and 254 hits.

Like Vance, O’Doul’s career did not take off until he was in his 30′s. In addition to playing the outfield, he also pitched 34 games (all but one in relief), with 23 of the appearances for the Red Sox in 1923. He played the inaugural All-Star game in 1933 and retired after the following season.

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