A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 72 Bill Dickey (Number 6 Catcher)

I think Bill James was a little too hard on Bill Dickey in his latest Historical Abstract. He was trying to say why Yogi Berra was a better than Dickey and I think he over did it and some of his followers now don’t think a lot of Dickey. However, on his site (years after he did the abstract) James did a study is he called “Catcher’s Pride Points”. He awarded points for things catchers take pride in like catching a no hitter.

Bill Dickey was the all-time leader. Not only was he the all-time leader, but it also wasn’t close. In the article Bill mentioned that Bill earned a lot of points as the Yankees won 8 pennants and 7 World Series with him. That was an advantage of playing with the Yankees in those days. Bill then mentioned without those points Dickey still would have won the award.

I like the “Catcher’s Pride Points better than any defensive formula for catchers I read. Maybe I should have included it in my calculation. However, that would have required a lot of research on my part. Not every catcher I studied was in Bill James study. Plus, there are new catchers since Bill James did the study. I don’t have the database to do the study for those players.

Bill Dickey retired from the Yankees as a player in 1943. In 1947, the Yankees hired Dickey to coach/tutor Yogi Berra on the fine art of catching. Later he did the same for Elston Howard another great Yankee catcher. He ranks 26th on my list of catchers and would rank higher but he had a short career. These two catchers helped keep the Yankee dynasty going until 1964. So Bill Dickey was a large part of the Yankee dynasty from 1932 to 1964.


Author: Douglas Byzewski

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It’s hard to be nice in writing without making it more important than the message you are trying to convey, I think … I get into trouble with that all the time. But that’s because I’m not nice. 🙂

Gary Fletcher

An interesting phenomenon here is that when you rank great players you can’t help but compare them. If you compare them, you inevitably appear to be sort of criticizing them. Dickey and Berra are both in the Baseball Hall of Fame; it’s not much of a criticism to suggest that one was greater than the other and that therefore the other one was less great.

But that’s the impression one is left with. It’s not like Bill James was dissing Dickey in favor of Terry Kennedy.