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Baseball Fever Policy

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This document was based on a similar policy used by SABR.

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Bob Dillinger

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  • Bob Dillinger

    Why was Bob Dillinger traded or sold from the Browns? Did the Browns get a cash offer they couldn't refuse? He led the league in steals three times and hits once batting over .300 at least twice. And why did he last only two years after he left the Browns? Lack of power, vision problems, major injuries? His major league history is very similar to Sam Jethroe who led the NL in steals his first three years and then left the game after a brief stop in Pittsburgh. Both players entry into the majors were delayed either by WWII or the color barrier.

  • #2
    The brief Dillinger sketch on www.baseballlibrary.com states that he retired after the 1951 season at age 33 because he had "lost interest in the game." This does not appear to be true.

    This article features extensive quotes from Dillinger himself, noting that his fielding (esp. his arm) was a problem. He played on in the minors and continued to hit for a very nice average, but was too old to make it back to The Show.

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...2/ai_108721602

    Here are the details on his trade from the Browns to the A's. The key to me is the money, which this franchise always needed:

    December 13, 1949: Traded by the St. Louis Browns with Paul Lehner to the Philadelphia Athletics for Ray Coleman, Frankie Gustine, Billy DeMars, Ray Ippolito (minors), and $100,000 cash.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Dave
      Why was Bob Dillinger traded or sold from the Browns? Did the Browns get a cash offer they couldn't refuse? He led the league in steals three times and hits once batting over .300 at least twice. And why did he last only two years after he left the Browns? Lack of power, vision problems, major injuries? His major league history is very similar to Sam Jethroe who led the NL in steals his first three years and then left the game after a brief stop in Pittsburgh. Both players entry into the majors were delayed either by WWII or the color barrier.
      Dave:

      Your first question is easier to answer than the second. It was money, of course, that moved Bob Dillinger from the Browns to the A's in the trade of December 13, 1949. In fact, the first rule of making any sense of most Browns trades that make little sense is to follow the money.

      The Browns traded Bob Dillinger and hard-to-get-along-with Paul Lehner to the Philadelphia Athletics in exchange for Ray Coleman, Frankie Gustine, Billy DeMars, minor league outfielder Ray Ippolito, and $ 100,000 cash. The deal gave the Browns some bill-paying money and a larger number of more affordable players for their roster.

      The quick demise of Dillinger beyond his trade from the Browns may have been due to the fact he just happened to be one of those players who got old early. I'm not ruling out the possibility of injury, but I don't think he was out due to visual problems or his lack of power. If aging were the reason, I doubt his trade by the Browns was because they saw the end coming. - Such a conclusion would be giving the Browns way too much credit.

      Bob Dillinger was an old 33 when he finished his last season with the Pirates and White Sox in 1951. - By then, Dillinger had gone from a guy who led the American League in stolen bases with 34 in 1947, 28 in 1948, and 20 in 1949 - to a guy who only stole 5 bases in 101 games in 1953. - He still hit .292 in 1953, but he was nothing like the hitter he had been in 1948 when he led the American League with 207 hits while also batting .321. When you look at his career stats year-by year, they are not the profile of a man who has lost his batting eye as a contact hitter, but of a guy who can no longer run. - The inability to run is always either due to illness, injury, or aging - and I suspect the latter entered into the mix with the once talented Bob Dillinger.
      Last edited by Bill_McCurdy; 11-01-2005, 07:45 PM.
      "Our fans never booed us. - They wouldn't dare. - We outnumbered 'em." ... Browns Pitcher Ned Garver.

      Comment


      • #4
        Bob Dillinger

        Bob Dillinger was a terrific ballplayer....one of the best hitters, fielders and base stealers. I don't know if he hit it off with the other Brownie players very well. Word was that he was a little impatient with teammates who couldn't or wouldnt produce at the level he did. He was a tough autograph for the knothole kids.

        Comment


        • #5
          From an article by Bob Kuenster in the November 2003 Baseball Digest:

          Dillinger could always hit, but it was his defense that prevented him from getting a longer stay in the majors.

          "I was a good hitter and fielder, but to be honest, I had a lousy throwing arm. I could field the ball but was scared to throw it. I was like Steve Sax. I spent the 1952-1955 seasons in the Pacific Coast League where I moved to the outfield and led the league in hitting with a .366 mark in 1953. I thought that would get me back to the majors, but it didn't work out. I was 35, and probably too old. If I were in my twenties and put up those numbers, I might have made it back to the big leagues."



          edit - whoops, I see VIBaseball found the article ahead of me. oh well!
          Last edited by westsidegrounds; 11-10-2005, 06:44 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for your response. The PCL was a "shadow" major league. I've read stories where PCL stars turned down offers from major league teams because they would have to take a pay cut to sit on a big league bench. I believe I read a late 40's/early 50's issue of SPORT advocating the inclusion of the PCL en masse into the majors.

            Comment


            • #7
              Bob

              There is a brand new biography of Bob Dillinger available. It's a really good read, if anyone here is interested... he's quite senior now, but he still gets around pretty well.
              You could order the book from the Philadelphia Athletics site, or right from Bob's new site (under construction) www.bobdillinger.com. thanks!

              dukefan

              Comment


              • #8
                Bob Dillinger.......
                Attached Files
                you can take the Dodgers out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the DODGERS
                http://brooklyndodgermemories.freeforums.org/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Loss of running speed and a suspect throwing arm look like the reasons Dillinger left the game so early. He could always hit. He hit .306 lifetime and hit .292 in his final year in the majors. His hits to games ratio of 888 hits in just 753 major league games proves he was one of the games elite contact hitters. If he didn't get another shot at the majors after leading the Pacific Coast League in batting average scouts must have labeled him as a defensive liability. He played in the minors until 1955 at age 37 but couldn't stick in the majors after age 33 in 1951, so there were definitely some holes in his game. At this writing Dillinger is 89 years of age.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    bob dillinger

                    He recently signed an autograph request for me thru the mail Still a strong signature.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      http://www.baseballhappenings.net/20...uis-brown.html

                      Dillinger passed away earlier this month.
                      Baseball Happenings
                      - Linking baseball's past, present and future.
                      http://baseballhappenings.blogspot.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Does anyone know who Dillinger pronounced his name? Was it with a hard 'G' as in finger (not Dillin-jer.) Gangster John Dillinger's name was actually pronounced with a hard 'G', but it is commonly mispronounced as 'Dillin-jer' so I wonder about the ballplayer.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I thought Connie Mack had a skinflint reputation? What was he doing spending $100K four years ahead of selling the team? Plus, the A's next year began a run of losing seasons that was only broken once until they became the Oakland A's. Maybe Ray Coleman, Frankie Gustine & Billy DeMars had high salaries?

                          Originally posted by VIBaseball View Post
                          The brief Dillinger sketch on www.baseballlibrary.com states that he retired after the 1951 season at age 33 because he had "lost interest in the game." This does not appear to be true.

                          This article features extensive quotes from Dillinger himself, noting that his fielding (esp. his arm) was a problem. He played on in the minors and continued to hit for a very nice average, but was too old to make it back to The Show.

                          http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...2/ai_108721602

                          Here are the details on his trade from the Browns to the A's. The key to me is the money, which this franchise always needed:

                          December 13, 1949: Traded by the St. Louis Browns with Paul Lehner to the Philadelphia Athletics for Ray Coleman, Frankie Gustine, Billy DeMars, Ray Ippolito (minors), and $100,000 cash.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Bob Dillinger story from 1947

                            Here is an interesting newspaper article about Bob Dillinger from early in the 1947 season when he was off to a good start for the Browns. It is from the St Louis Globe-Democrat of May 9, 1947.

                            pd 5-9-1947.pdf

                            pd 5-9-1947 2.pdf

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I loves me some Bob Dillinger, one of the true stars of the late-period Brownies.

                              But it looks like a rare instance where they traded somebody at the right time instead of the wrong time as usual. His caught stealing of 14 vs. his SB of 20, for 1949, didn't help his cause. Conning Mack out of $100K and Ray Coleman plus getting rid of Lehner* ... seems like something of a heist. (A talent for heists would follow GM Bill DeWitt to Detroit and Cincinnati where he built contenders quickly out of thin air .... until he famously got his comeuppance in the Frank Robinson trade.)

                              *The A's got one productive year out of Lehner however.

                              Comment

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