Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review of "America’s Dizzy Dean," by Curt Smith

Review of

America’s Dizzy Dean, by Curt Smith ISBN 0827200145

Five out of five stars

Dominant as both a player and a showman

 Jay Hanna or Dizzy Dean was a man whose talent for pitching a baseball was exceeded only by his incredible brashness. Even though he was an essentially uneducated country boy, he approached the world as if he knew all about it. He won an amazing 121 games (five complete seasons) before he turned 27 and it seemed likely that he could have approached 300 for a career if he had not been injured and hurt his throwing arm.

 Dean was given the nickname “Dizzy” for his wild antics and frequent mental blunders. Some of it was an act, but few were ever sure as to how far it really went. One of the best baseball quotes of all time appeared after Dean was hit in the head by a ball thrown in an attempt to complete a double play. It was , “X-rays of Dizzy Dean’s head reveal nothing.”  

 After his career as a player was over, Dean became a broadcaster, famous for his country banner and butchery of the English language. Yet, he was unapologetic for his speech patterns. He was very poor as a child, growing up picking cotton for a pittance and his baseball career spanned  the Depression.

 It is easy to give the man that came to be known as “Ole Diz” a great deal of slack when describing his life. While Smith gives him some, he does not go too far with it. Therefore, this is an excellent biography of the man that plausibly could have gone down as one of the top five pitchers of all time. All accounts are that he was a joy to listen to when broadcasting a game, he became the first true star of the baseball airwaves. Even though teachers of English constantly complained about what he said.

 This was a fun book to read, it describes the first professional baseball player that was as much an entertainer on the field as he was dominant when on the mound.

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