Murry Dickson

Murry Dickson

August 21, 1916
5' 10"
157 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-30-1939 with SLN

The Pirates during most of the 1950’s were a sorry lot, putting together a collection of the worst teams ever grace Forbes Field.  It wasn’t just the fans who suffered but talented ball players who unfortunately just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  In several other eras such as the 20’s or 70’s, Murry Dickson might have been a superstar with the Bucs, talked about as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the franchise.  Regrettably the decade Dickson performed on the mound for Pittsburgh was the 1950’s. Which meant being the best pitcher on the team, usually was the guy who could come close to a .500 record

After coming up with the St Louis Cardinals in 1939, Dickson went 14-5 in his first two full seasons in ’42 and ’43, before being called on to join the Army late in the 1943 campaign.  Dickson was able to pull off what many weren’t able to during the time period, get a furlough to play major league baseball.

Murry was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas in 1943 and was granted a 10-day pass so he could pitch in the World Series against the Yankees. Dickson got his opportunity at the last possible moment, pitching the final 2/3 of an inning for the Cards in the 5th and final game of the series, which sadly saw New York win 4 games to 1.  In his lone appearance, Murry retired Spud Chandler on a pop up, walked Frank Crosetti to load the bases and got Bud Methany to ground out to Sanders, who flipped it on to Dickson for the final out of the ninth inning for the Yankees.
Three years later, Murry returned from the war and had one of his best seasons ever with a 15-6 mark and a league leading .714 winning percentage that included a career low 2.88 ERA (not including the 0.00 ERA he had in only 3 inning in his first season).  At the end of the season, Brooklyn and St Louis were tied at 96-58 for the NL pennant. St Louis won the first game of the best of 3 series 4-2 and Dickson got the opportunity to start the second game.  The Missouri native went 8 1/3 innings giving up 5 hits and 4 runs, en route to the 8-4 clincher that sent them to the series against the Red Sox.
In the Fall Classic, Dickson lost game 3, 4-0 before getting a no decision in the seventh and final game, a contest won on the famous mad dash by Enos Slaughter.
After a couple of sub .500 seasons, which Murry pitched solidly, the Pirates bought him fro the Cards for $125,000.  At that point and time in his career, he was 54-43, with appearances in two World Series.  Over the course of the next few seasons, world championships were about the last thing on the lanky hurlers mind.
The Pirates knew that they had gotten a very talented pitcher from St Louis.  He was called “the Thomas Edison of the mound” because of the various pitches he could deliver. He had a whole variety that, included a knuckleball among other pitches, all of which came from various angles, side armed, ¾ and overhand.  The collection would keep hitters guessing constantly.  The other advantage to Dickson was his durability.  Between 1947-1956, Dickson pitched over 200 innings each season.  The disadvantage Murry had was he went from the penthouse to the outhouse with the sorriest team in baseball.
In his first two seasons, 1949 and 1950, in the Steel City, Dickson went 22-29, before what would be his only 20 win season. What was so phenomenal about his 20-16, 1951 season was it came with a team that finished 64-90, which meant he won almost 1/3 of the entire teams contest.  It was to be the only true success he would enjoy while he was here.
The next three seasons were a nightmare as he led the league in losses each season, which accumulated to a total of 60 in the time period, two of them with the Pirates.  While Mr. Edison was 24-40 between 1952-1953, a .375 winning percentage, the team was much worse going a combined 92-216, a pathetic .298 mark.
Despite his horrid experience, Dickson pitched well as his combined 3.96 ERA was only a few points off the leagues 3.89 mark.  He also was named to his one and only all-star game in 1953, a contest were he was credited with a save.
In January of 1954, Dickson got his stay of execution from the Bucs, going to their much better cross state rivals the Philadelphia Phillies.  GM Branch Rickey sent the 37-year old hurler to the Phils for infielder Jack Lohrke and pitcher Andy Hansen, neither of who ever played a game in Pittsburgh.
Dickson went on to lead the league in losses a third time in 1954 with a 10-20 mark, unfortunately this time he was with a team who was 75-79, so he couldn’t blame his bad fortune on that.
Following his 66-85 career with the Bucs, Dickson went on to play until 1959 with the Phils, Cards, A’s and Yankees, finishing his career at 172-181, one year short of having the distinction of playing in 4 decades.

At the age of 41, he was traded to the New York Yankees by the Kansas City Athletics, allowing him another post-season appearance. He pitched two games in relief as the Yankees defeated the Milwaukee Braves in seven games to win the 1958 World Series. He returned to the Athletics the next season to pitch one more year as a reliever before retiring.

Dickson died of emphysema at age 73.

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