NOTE: The BND has endeavored to identify an objective list of the top 100 St. Louis Cardinals players of all time, based on statistical formulas developed through sabermetrics. We’ll count down the list daily, player by player, until April 4, the day of the Cardinals’ 2019 home opener. The running list and player bios can be found at bnd.com.
NO. 88 RHP MURRY DICKSON
Murry Dickson could do a lot of things. He was an amateur magician who he could entertain a train full of teammates with his sleight of hand, a union carpenter who insisted that swinging a hammer in the offseason was good for his pitching arm, and a durable and versatile right-hander who threw at least 200 innings in 10 straight big-league seasons.
He also was a war hero.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Mainly used as a relief pitcher, Dickson won six games for the world champion Cardinals in 1942 and another eight during the pennant-winning repeat of 1943. Less than a week before the start of the World Series against the Yankees, though, he received his draft notice.
Like many ballplayers of the era, he missed two seasons of his prime to service in World War II. Others like Hank Nowak —Dickson’s teammate with the Class A Houston Buffaloes — were killed in action before getting their shot in the major leagues.
As a jeep driver with the 35th Infantry Division, Dickson landed at Omaha Beach a month after D-Day and saw combat in France and Belgium before surviving the Battle of the Bulge and fighting on into Germany.
According to Gary Bedingfield of “Baseball in Wartime,” Dickson declined an invitation to serve as Gen. George Patton’s personal driver. “No way,” he said. “Patton is nuts.”
Sgt. Dickson rejoined the Cardinals in 1946 with four battle stars and no apparent ill-effects on that rubber right arm of his.
At 29 year-old and in just this third full season in the big leagues, Dickson went 15-6 with a 2.88 ERA in 184.1 innings.
None of his starts were bigger than the second game of a National League playoff series with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cardinals and Dodgers finished the regular season tied for first place, necessitating the three-game series.
Howie Pollet won game 1 for St. Louis at Sportsman’s Park. In Game 2, at Ebbets Field, Dickson gave up a first inning run, then didn’t allow another Brooklyn hit until the ninth. The win sent the Cardinals back to the World Series against the Red Sox. Dickson got the start in the decisive seventh game and lasted seven innings, but his roommate, Harry Brecheen, picked up the clinching win.
Dickson finished an 18-year career with a losing record, owed in large part to his five seasons with some truly awful teams in Pittsburgh.Nine seasons in St. Louis, however, were marked by 72 wins, a .571 winning percentage and a 3.38 ERA.
He retired at age 42 and returned to Leavenworth, Kansas and Carpenters Local 499.
SEASONS IN ST. LOUIS: 1939-40, 1942-43, 1946-48, 1956-57
72-54 in St. Louis | 3.38 ERA | 3x NL Champ | 2 WS ring
TOP 100 SCORE: 2.23