In this regular feature, we will help you acquaint yourself with some of the finest practitioners of the most thankless task in baseball to ever don the “tools of ignorance” for our beloved Chicago Baseball teams. This week we feature George Dickey.
When you think of great catchers of the 30s and 40s, certain names come to mind…Cochrane, Hartnett, Dickey…unfortunately for the White Sox, when you say “Dickey”, everyone assumes you mean Bill, one of the all-time greats, a Hall of Famer, and player who shares a retired number 8 with fellow immortal Yogi Berra.
Then there’s George “Skeets” Dickey. George was born in 1915, 8 years after his more famous brother, in Kensett Arkansas, just outside Little Rock. Being younger than Bill by 8 years meant that while George was in high school, Bill was already playing for, and winning pennants with, the Yankees. As a result, whenever the Yankees were in St. Louis to play the Browns, George got to come up to Sportmen’s Park to catch batting practice and travel with the team during the summer.
Once George was out of high school in 1933, the Yankees took him to Spring Training, and signed him to a minor league deal. At the ripe old age of 17, he split time between two teams and leagues, batting .256 with a pair of home runs. In 1934, he was having a good year in Norfolk, hitting .297 with 9 home runs before getting injured sliding into home. The Yankees let him go that winter.
The following year, unable to (pardon the expression) catch on with anyone, he played for his home town Little Rock Travelers. After hitting .261 with 5 home runs, the Red Sox bought him from Little Rock.
As it turns out, George made his big league debut in a game that September against his big brother and the Yankees. He went hitless, and his first taste of big league ball ended inauspiciously, going 0-for-11 in 5 games.
In 1936, he played 10 games with Boston, mostly at the end of the season. Other than those 10 games, he spent the years 1936-1940 banging around the minors. After the 1940 season, the White Sox bought his contract.
Dickey settled into his role as a backup catcher, as (future CotW) Mike Tresh handled the everyday duties. Between the 1941 and 1942 seasons, he played in 91 games, OPSing .505 and .596 respectively.
After the 1942 season, he joined the Navy. As was the case with most big league players, he played for the team at whichever base he was stationed. He found his way into the Pacific, where Big Brother Bill was in charge of all Navy baseball. Once the war ended, he was back with the Sox.
He played 37 games for the Sox in 1946, slashing 192/300/205. 1947 was his best year, as he played in 83 games, slashing 223/331/265. After the season, the Sox let him go.
He played one last year with Birmingham in the Southern Association before retiring to become a bond trader in Little Rock, where he hired Big Brother Bill to sell securities.
George Dickey died in 1976 at age 60.