Tuesday, June 19, 2012

eBay: Dazzy Vance in Brooklyn Blue

Why have the Dodgers not retired the number of Dazzy Vance?

This is certainly a name many Dodgers fans have long forgotten.  Dazzy Vance played in Blue before the heyday of the "Boys of Summer." He was known for a blazing fastball that allowed him to lead the league in strike outs for 7 straight seasons- from 1922 to 1928.  In 1924 he struck out 3 batters in one inning on just 9 pitches (only the 7th Major Leaguer to ever do that).  Furthermore, in that year he struck out more batters than any 2 National League pitchers combined.  Vance wasn't always great.  He spent a decade in the minors honing his craft (career saving surgery probably had a lot to do with it) before finally catching on at the age of 31.  As soon as he was given that opportunity he wowed the crowd.  In 1955 he was elected into the Hall of Fame.

Below is a vintage news service photograph issued by Pacific & Atlantic of Dazzy Vance showing his fastball grip, as found on eBay.  BTW, Vance wore number #15 - although I'm unclear if he wore a number for a very long time.  Many teams, including the Dodgers, did not have numbers back then.  Check out a great biography on Vance at the SABR Biography Project.  There is a interesting tidbit that suggest that Vance may have benefited from arm surgery (see it below).
It was in the Big Easy that the career-changing poker game occurred. According to Jack Kavanagh and Norman Macht, Vance banged his arm on the edge of the table while raking in a pot. He immediately felt intense pain. When the arm still hurt the next morning, Vance went to a doctor, who diagnosed an underlying injury that had not been discovered by all the medicos who had examined him previously. Exactly what the doctor did is unknown. Bill James speculated that the surgeon probably removed bone chips and debris from the elbow. That guess seems as good as any. At any rate, the operation was a success and the patient not only survived, but he thrived. After receiving this treatment, Dazzy was able to pitch again painlessly. The Dazzler rebounded to win 21 games for the Pelicans in 1921, his first 20-win season since 1914. He made it to the majors to stay the very next year. “It was an odd thing,” Vance later recalled. “My arm came back just as quickly as it went sore on me in 1915. I awoke one morning and learned I could throw without pain again."
(eBay Auction Link)

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