Friday, March 04, 2005

March 4th, 1891

Dazzy Vance Born

I actually thought I had written on Dazzy Vance before; I hadn't of course. I've done two Dizzy's (Dean and Trout) but never a Dazzy. The nickname came from a phrase Vance often used in his childhood "Ain't that a daisy!" (I imagine that's an expression of shock) except Vance pronounced the last word "Dazzy" and it stuck.

Vance is in the Hall of Fame, despite a relatively pedestrian one hundred ninety-seven wins. He probably deserves to be in however, although he had cups of coffee in 1915 and 1918, Vance did not pitch his first full season until 1922, at which point he was already thirty-one. Despite his age, he won eighteen games for
Brooklyn that year. He then went on to use his blazing fastball and excellent curveball, both delivered from an identical overhand motion to average seventeen wins over the next eleven seasons for a Brooklyn team that ranged from excellent to fairly awful. They were excellent in 1924 when Vance won twenty-eight games and the MVP (along with the $1,000 in gold coins that came with the honor that year). They were fairly awful in 1927 when Vance won just sixteen games despite finishing third in the league in ERA and had Doug McWeeny as one of his rotation mates. He also led the National League in strikeouts every year from 1922 through 1928.

He left the Dodgers in 1933 in a trade to the Cardinals and won a World Series in 1934, although he was into his decline by then. He played the last year of his career back in
Brooklyn winning three games and retired after the 1935 season. After his career he was successful in the real estate market in Florida, living up to the intelligence he was reputed to show while on the mound. He died in 1961, a few weeks short of his seventieth birthday.

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