"It Ain't Braggin' If Y'Can Back It Up!" Dizzy Dean and the Gashouse Gang by Carolyn E. Mueller
THE LEADER OF THIS GANG IS A FEW CARDS SHORT OF A FULL DECK.
HE CLAIMS A LOT OF DIFFERENT NAMES.
BUT WE CALL HIM DIZZY, DIZZY DEAN.
By 1930 the Great Depression had settled in like a cloud of coal dust on St. Louis. Their Cardinals were short on winning games. A lot of folks were out of work, and soup kitchens and bread lines were the only places doing much business. People needed jobs and money, but they needed a few laughs even more.
And fast-ball pitcher Jay Hanna, a.k.a. Jerome Herman, alias Dizzy Dean, was just the man for the job.
Not only did he win 30 games in his first season as pitcher; he talked funny and played pranks to keep the fans laughing and coming back to the ballpark.
He and his cronies on the team, brother Daffy Dean, Pepper Martin, Dazzy Vance, and Ducky Medwick, known as the Gashouse Gang, kept some kind of foolishness going on most of the time. They water-balloon-bombed their manager Frankie Frisch from above, and Dizzy and Pepper chose a steaming hot day to wrap themselves in blankets and shiver in front of a campfire they built in right field, They once brought a sidewalk hillbilly band into the clubhouse for a pre-game dugout hoedown. Even when the team lost the game, the fans went home chuckling with a good story to tell.
Dizzy and Daffy even parked themselves in the grass beside the tracks when the Cardinals' train chugged off to an away game, on strike for better pay from the managers.
"ME AND PAUL ARE GONNA WIN 45 GAMES!" DIZZY BOASTED.
And by September 21 of that season, Dizzy had won 27 and Daffy had won 18.
"IT AIN'T BRAGGIN' IF YOU CAN BACK IT UP!" DIZ SAID.
But Dizzy's best punchline wasn't even his. When he was hit in the head by a pitched ball while running bases, the newspaper's headline reported...
"X-RAY OF DEAN'S HEAD REVEALS NOTHING."
St. Louis fans kept laughing at the capers of the Dean brothers and their teammates, and Depression or not, they were all smiling on that day in 1934 when the Cardinals won the Worlds Series, thanks to Dizzy Dean and his Gashouse Gang.
Carolyn E. Mueller's just published Dizzy Dean and the Gashouse Gang (Reedy Press, 2015) tells the story of one of baseball's genuine legends. Dizzy was voted Most Valuable Player, won a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and retired to a memorable career broadcasting major league games on radio and television, keeping ball fans at home laughing out loud along with the crowd. Mueller's text, narrated by a crusty veteran of the newspaper's dugout beat, tells it pretty much like it was in those colorful days, relating just a few of the anecdotes that made Diz infamous as well as fabled, and artist Ed Koehler scores with his comic acrylic illustrations, using a variety of perspectives to get up-close and personal in telling Dizzy's story to young baseball lovers. A winning baseball picture biography about a winsome and winning American sports hero.