Bill Dickey Biography
Bill Dickey biography: the life and baseball accomplishments of New York Yankees catcher.
William Malcolm Dickey was born in Bastrop, Louisiana on June 6, 1907. In 1925, Dickey began his professional baseball career and played four years in the minor league. When Dickey was playing as an excellent defensive catcher for Little Rock of the Southern League, most Major League clubs assumed he would eventually end up playing for the Chicago White Sox since both clubs had a working agreement. However, when the New York Yankees discovered Dickey's contract was only with Little Rock and not with Chicago, they purchased his contract on the advice of Yankee scout Johnny Nee.
Dickey joined the New York Yankees late in the 1928 season and only got to play in ten games. From 1929 until 1941, he was the regular catcher for the Yankees. Dickey was typically quiet off the field but in 1932 he was suspended for 30 days and fined $1000 for punching Carl Reynolds, a Washington Senators outfielder, in the mouth. Reynolds crashed into Dickey scoring on a squeeze play that tied the game. Dickey got up and broke Reynolds jaw with a single punch.
While serving as a Naval lieutenant commander during World War II, Dickey missed the entire 1944 and 1945 seasons. Upon his return to the Yankees in 1946, Dickey signed a player's contract for his final season. On May 24, 1946 Yankee Manager Joe McCarthy resigned for health reasons in addition to his lack of rapport with the new Yankee owners and General Manager Larry McPhail. Dickey was named as McCarthy's replacement and served as the Yankees manager until September 12, 1946. He too had his differences with McPhail.
After managing Little Rock of the Southern Association in 1947, Dickey returned to the Yankees as a coach under Casey Stengal and held that job until the late 1950s. He served as a scout in 1959, then returned to be a bullpen coach the next year only to be halted by illness and forced to quit in July of 1960. He was a trusted aide to Stengal and had a gift for teaching players. He proved this well with tutoring Yogi Berra toward becoming an outstanding player as well as helping several Yankee hitters including Bobby Richardson.
Dickey spent his entire career of 17 years with the Yankees and was a member of 8 World Series Championship teams. He also played in 11 All-Star games during his career in baseball. He was an excellent defensive player and had an exceptional lifetime batting average for a catcher with .313. Between 1929 and 1941, Dickey caught more than 100 games to set an American League record that was later tied by Johnny Bench.
Dickey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954 and was recognized as a player and coach that had been associated with 18 New York Yankee teams that had won pennants. Dickey's Yankee uniform #8 was retired in honor of him and also in honor of Yogi Berra who had worn the same number. In 1980 the Yankee foundation gave Dickey the Pride of the Yankees Award as well.
He died on November 12, 1993 in Little Rock, Arkansas and is buried at Roselawn in Little Rock.