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The reason behind his unusual nickname is unknown, but John Ashley "Daff" Gammons was proof that early players weren't all a bunch of uneducated louts you read about in baseball history books. Though the song says, "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," back around 1900, the thinking was, "Mamas, Don't Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Date Ball Players."

Gammons, however, was a well-educated man, with degrees from Brown University and Harvard. He did not take baseball all that seriously, though he certainly gave it his all when he was on the field, as he also did when he played football at Brown. The New Bedford, Massachusetts, native couldn't help by attract attention from the National League Boston Beaneaters, who signed Gammons in 1901. The 25-year-old outfielder played 28 games, batted .194, and soon decided he'd be better off in another profession.

But first he played some professional football, such as it was in 1901. He had been a star at Brown, scoring 11 touchdowns in 1897. When he got down to business, however, he did it by starting his own insurance company in Rhode Island, where he lived the rest of his life.

According to "Brown University Baseball: A Legacy of the Game," by Rick Harris, when Gammons coached baseball and football at Brown for a few years, he did so in his spare time. Later he took up golf, and in 1924, when he was 48 years old, Gammons won the Rhode Island amateur championship.

An interesting sidelight — his son, John A. Gammons Jr., became sheriff of Tombstone, Arizona, in the 1950s, following in the footsteps of Wyatt Earp.

On Sept. 21, 1934, in the first game of a double-header, Dizzy Dean threw a three-hit shutout against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In the second game, Paul Dee Dean, a St. Louis Cardinals rookie, did something unusual — he upstaged his more famous brother by throwing a no-hitter.

Dizzy Dean's reaction: "If I know'd Paul was going to throw a no-hitter, I would have, too."

The Dean brothers, sons of Arkansas sharecroppers, were all the rage in 1934. Paul won 19 games, his brother won 30. Their combined total of 49 topped Dizzy Dean's pre-season prediction of 45, a number many thought was ridiculously high. The brothers then won two games apiece in the World Series as St. Louis beat Detroit in seven games.

Paul Dean won 19 more games in 1935, but injuries shortened his career; he only had 12 victories thereafter. He was an excellent pitcher, but not the zany character his nickname (Daffy) implies. He reportedly disliked the nickname, but went along with it because it had been created to stir up interest in the Cardinals. Paul Dean was as practical a man as his brother was not. Dizzy Dean, for example, spent much of his World Series money in 1934 by celebrating; Daffy Dean got married and bought a farm.

However, baseball was in his blood. He attempted several comebacks, then became a minor league manager and baseball coach at the University of Plano in Texas.

According to some web pages, pitcher Kenneth George "Ken" Sanders also was nicknamed Daffy (and Bulldog). Sanders pitched for eight major league teams in a 10-season career that stretched from 1964 to 1976, so he was gainfully employed in baseball for a long stretch. But as a relief pitcher with mediocre teams, he didn't attract a lot of national attention. How often he was called "Daffy" — and why — isn't noted anywhere, and isn't even mentioned in the linked SABR biography.

Unlike his brother, Paul, who had a nickname forced upon him in what was little more than a publicity stunt, Jay Hanna Dean earned the moniker, "Dizzy." He was a man whose mouth always seemed to be moving, which made him a sportswriter's dream — just so long as you didn't believe too much of what he was saying. He'd tell his life story a bit differently every time. 

He regarded himself as baseball's best pitcher, but had no qualms about sharing the spotlight with others, as he did with Satchel Paige on post-season barnstorming tours that Dean organized. These tours gave people a chance to see white and black baseball players compete. Dean's teams, stocked with minor leaguers, perhaps selected because they didn't care what they were being paid, often lost, but nothing shook Dizzy's confidence that when it really mattered, he could outpitch anyone, though he did say Satchel Paige was the best pitcher he had ever seen. But, of course, Dean had never seen himself pitch.

When it came to skill and showmanship, Dizzy Dean was the white Satchel Paige, but while Paige continued to go on, seemingly forever, Dean's career was, for all practical purposes, ended in 1937 by an Earl Averill line-drive in the All-Star game. The ball broke one of Dean's toes; Dizzy's efforts to pitch through the injury started a chain of events that ruined his arm. Though just 26 in 1937, Dean won only 16 games in the years that followed.

Until then, however, Dean might well have been a good as he thought he was. He won 30 game in 1933, followed that with 28 the next season. By age 25, he'd already won 120 games.

Later he went into broadcasting where his folksy style proved popular with everyone but teachers, who were upset by Dean's disregard for proper grammar. Hollywood went a bit overboard in dramatizing this episode of Dean's life in the 1952 biographical film, "The Pride of St. Louis." (Dan Dailey played Dizzy, Richard Crenna played Daffy.) The English language survived, so did the youth of America, and Dean went on to have a long career in broadcasting.


Roy Edward "Dizzy" Carlyle could hit; of that there was no doubt. In 173 games for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees (1925-26), the six-foot-two Oglethorpe University grad, who swung from the left side of the plate, batted .318.

He also managed to make 21 errors, which is beyond unacceptable for a major league outfielder. That kind of fielding may be why he was called Dizzy, but, in truth, he was much better known by his given first name, Roy.

His lifetime average in the minor leagues was .349, and he never dipped below .326 for a full season. His younger brother, Cleo, also had a brief trial with the Red Sox before becoming a career minor leaguer who batted .314.


Paul Howard Trout patterned himself after Dizzy Dean, starting with his self-imposed nickname. The linked story, by Warren Corbett on the Society for American Baseball Research website, contains some of the many tales that were told about the pitcher who made his way to the major leagues and stayed there for 15 years, all but one of them with the Detroit Tigers.

He won 170 games during those 15 seasons, and lost 161. His two best seasons came during World War Two, which took some of the shine off them. A 20-game winner in 1943, he won 27 the next season. Teammate Hal Newhouser won 29. Their combined total of 56 wins was impressive, but not good enough to help the Tigers win the pennant. They finished second, behind the St. Louis Browns.

But in 1945, Trout won 18 games, Newhouser 25, and this time the Tigers reached the World Series, where Trout picked up another victory against the Chicago Cubs.

Trout had his moments at bat, hitting 20 major league home runs, including five during the 1944 season. His son, Steve, who was nicknamed "Rainbow," was a major league pitcher for 12 seasons (1988-89).

Baseball's first "Dizzy" was the appropriately named Everett Clarence Nutter, an outfielder who played 18 games for the Boston Braves in 1919, batting .212. Otherwise Dizzy Nutter was in the minor leagues for nine seasons, six of them with New Haven of the Class A Eastern League. (The New Haven team had three nicknames during those six seasons — the Murlins, the Weissman, and the Indians.

Then there Dizzy Sutherland, real name Howard Alvin Sutherland, a left-handed pitcher who received a rough reception in his one major league game, in 1949, with the Washington Senators. Sutherland started the game, lasting one inning, in which he walked six batters, gave up two hits and five runs. Not surprisingly, he was charged with the loss.

Sutherland's story, however, is more dramatic that most major leaguers. He was wounded three times parachuting into Italy during World War Two, and was taken prisoner. Before he was liberated, the six-foot Sutherland, who weighed 200 pounds when he entered the service, lost half that weight. A native of Washington, D.C., he did some semi-professional pitching after the war, and turned professional at the age of 27 in 1949, winning 18 games with Charlotte of the Tri-State League. Then came his one game with Washington.

He went back to Charlotte and pitched two more seasons before he retired from baseball.

The hard-throwing Vance was judged a failure in his first two efforts to make the majors, in 1915 with both Pittsburgh and the New York Yankees, and with the Yankees again in 1918. 

In 1922 he was given another chance, this time by the Brooklyn Dodgers (soon to be Dodgers) — and the 31-year-old Vance responded with 18 wins, leading the league in strikeouts (134) and shutouts (5). Two years later he won 28 games and had 262 strike outs.

He'd go on to a Hall of Fame career in which he won 197 games, led the National league in strikeouts seven consecutive years, and, perhaps most remarkably, posted a league-leading 2.61 earned run average in 1930 when the league batting average was .303. That was more than one run per game better than second place finisher Carl Hubbell, whose earned run average was 3.76.

Outfielder Johnny Frederick paid his teammate one of my favorite baseball compliments. Vance, he said, "could throw a cream puff through a battleship."

Why was Clarence Arthur Vance called Dazzy? As a boy in Orient, Iowa, his favorite expression was "Ain't that a daisy!" Vance's accent made it sound as though he were saying "dazzy." After awhile, he did it intentionally and had himself an unusual new name.

Vernon Monroe "Monty" Swartz, who grew up about 40 miles north of Cincinnati, made one start for the Reds in 1920 against the St. Louis Cardinals, picking up a complete game, 12-inning loss. It was the longest appearance by a pitcher in his only major league game. He also had two hits in four at bats. So why is he included on this page? According to baseball-reference.com, Swartz also was called "Dazzy. Not much else is known about Swartz, except that he did some pitching in the Pacific Coast League in 1919 and 1921.

There were two pitchers known as "Dolly" Gray, though the second one (on the right) is often identified as "Sam," because he was born Samuel David Gray. And when you are a "Sam," especially if you're also a pitcher, some joker is bound to call you "Sad Sam."

The other "Dolly" Gray (on the left) was born William Denton Gray, and was nicknamed after "Goodbye, Dolly Gray," a popular song in the 1890s. He pitched for three seasons (1909-11) with bad Washington Senators teams, which explains his lifetime won-lost record, 15-51. However, he was a star in the Pacific Coast League, and five times he won 23 or more games for the Los Angeles Angels, peaking in 1907 when he won 32 games.

As you might expect, Sam Gray was called "Dolly" partly because of the first "Dolly" Gray, and partly because of the song. He was a major leaguer for 10 seasons (1924-33) with the Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns, winning 111 games, losing 115.

Major league baseball also had two "Dolly" Starks, one of them (right) an umpire. Infielder Monroe Randolph Star (left) came first. Primarily a shortstop, he played 127 games over four seasons (1909-12), the first with Cleveland, the last three with Brooklyn. Not much of a hitter — his lifetime batting average in the majors was .238, his minor league average was a few points lower — he enjoyed his best season with Brooklyn in 1911 when in 70 games, he batted .295.

After a poor start in 1912, he found himself back in the minor leagues, this time to stay. He spent 16 seasons in the minors, four of them as a player-manager. After he retired from playing, his managed one season (1923) at Paducah in the Class D Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee (Kitty) League. The source of his nickname is unknown, but it was the reasons another Stark was soon stuck with it.

Albert D. Stark not only had the same last name, but like the first "Dolly" Stark, he was a light-hitting infielder, primarily a second baseman who realized early on he would never escape the minors. Like Fred "Mysterious Mitchell" Walker, one of Stark's jobs after he retired as a baseball player was to coach basketball at Dartmouth College. Unlike Walker, whose team failed to win a game in his one season at Dartmouth, Stark enjoyed much greater success. He coached the Big Green for eight seasons, from 1928 to 1936, and never had a losing record. His teams won 101 games, lost 60.

Stark also was a dress designer. He called his line, "The Dolly Stark Dress." But his best job came about almost by accident when a friend asked him to fill in for a sick umpire in a college baseball game between Vermont and Lehigh, and Stark impressed everyone with the way he handled himself. In 1927 he umpired in the Eastern League, and a year later he was in the National League, where he remained until 1940, except for 1936 when he held out for more pay.

Stark was voted the league's most popular umpire, and late in his career was honored by a Dolly Stark Day at the Polo Grounds when he was given a new automobile. A few years after he retired, he had his own daily sports television program in New York City.

"It's a tough, thankless job," he once said about being an umpire. "The men in it, forced to live an isolated existence, put everything they have into it. The highest praise they receive is silence."

Stark died in 1968. He was 71 years old.

While working on the four "Dolly," is occurred to me you could form a team — and then some — from players whose names and nicknames rhyme with "Olly" (see below).

But now let's return to an insensitive, politically incorrect era when baseball players who were deaf were automatically given a nickname that today would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.


Outfielder William Ellsworth Hoy went deaf in childhood, but that didn't prevent him from having a 14-season career that included stints in four different major leagues — the National, the American Association, Players League, and American League. He spent yet another season in the American League,, in 1900, but that year it didn't have major league status.

Hoy played for six teams — Washington, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis Browns, Buffalo, and Chicago White Sox — and averaged more than 100 runs scored per season. He drew a lot of walks because of his size, sometimes listed as five-foot-four, sometimes as five-foot-six.

He remained active as a player until he was 41 years old when he had his longest season — 212 games with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. He had a career high 208 hits that season, but because he had 808 at bats, his average was only .257, considerably lower than his lifetime major league batting average of .288.


Luther Hayden Taylor, deaf since birth, pitched for nine seasons in the major leagues (1900-08), playing all but four of his 274 games with the New York Giants.

After winning 18 games and losing 27 in 1901, his first full season in the majors, Taylor jumped from the Giants to Cleveland of the American League, but jumped back to the Giants after losing three of four games for the Bronchos (as the future Indians were then called). Taylor's best seasons with the Giants were 1904-06, when he went 54-33. He won 21 games in 1904 as the Giants won the pennant. Overall his record was 116-106.

In 1909, at the age of 34, Taylor pitched for Buffalo of the Eastern League, and remained active in the minors until 1915 when he posted an 18-11 record for the Utica Utes of the New York State League.

Occasionally you might come across a photo of 'Dummy' Taylor online and find it is misidentified as "Dummy" Hoy. They were the two most famous deaf major leaguers, but not the only ones.

George Michael Leitner and William John Deegan were teammates of Taylor in 1901, giving the New York Giants three pitchers that season who were nicknamed "Dummy."

Leitner, like Taylor, also pitched briefly for Cleveland in 1902. He had no victories and two defeats in his abbreviated major league career. Deegan's was even shorter  — no wins,, one loss.

Edward Joseph Dundon was the first deaf player in the major leagues, pitching for his hometown Columbus (Ohio) Buckeyes of the American Association in 1883-84, winning nine games, losing 20. He was also the first to be nicknamed "Dummy," though it didn't supplant his given first name like it did with William Hoy and Luther Taylor. Dundon had his best seasons with Atlanta of the Southern Association in 1885 when he won 21 games, and with Syracuse of the International Association in 1888 when he had a 13-5 record. Tragically, Dundon died in 1893 when he was only 34 years old.

According to Brian McKenna, who wrote his SABR biography, Reuben Crandol Stephenson, was called Steve by players and friends; "Dummy" was a nickname used by fans and reporters (and now by SABR and baseball-reference.com). In my search for more information about him, I found only one newspaper story, and it did indeed called him "Dummy" Stephenson.

He began playing baseball as a catcher, and was put into center field pretty much against his will, again, according to McKenna. He was summoned to Philadelphia in 1892 to fill in for an injured Delehanty, and the Phillies let Stephenson go as soon as Delehanty returned. He batted a respectable .270 in eight games, but that concluded his major league career. He played in the minor leagues for several years afterward.

I found Herbert Courtland Murphy listed under "Dummy" Murphy on some baseball websites, but in old newspaper clippings he was referred to either as Herbert or Herb. Murphy was a shortstop who played nine games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1914. He batted .154.

He played 13 seasons in the minor leagues, and his best one came in 1921 with High Point of the Piedmont League when he batted .316 with 23 homes runs. He also managed for three years in the minor leagues.

Murphy would be more accurately described as hard of hearing than deaf. No doubt he was hearing impaired, but according to newspapers at the time, the player could hear anyone who was close enough and loud enough.

I have several questions about Matthew Daniel "Danny" Lynch who also is listed on several baseball-reference.com pages as "Dummy" Lynch. I doubt that Lynch was deaf. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper in World War Two. He played seven games for the Chicago Cubs in 1948, had two hits in seven at bats, including a home run off Boston Braves pitcher Johnny Sain.

He played in the minors for six years after that, retired from baseball, and completed his studies at Southern Methodist University. It's possible the nickname, "Dummy," was inspired by 1920s pro football player Eddie "Dummy" Lynch, described by sportswriter William J. McGonigle (Rome, NY, Daily Sentinel, December 2, 1927) as "one of the most versatile college athletes that ever flunked a mid-year."

Finally, there's Dick Sipek, an outfielder who was deaf, but was never nicknamed "Dummy," which may have made him unique in major league baseball. Sipek played in 82 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1945, batting .244. He had an eight-year career in the minor leagues, including four seasons (1948-51) with the Reidsville Luckies of the Carolina League, where he batted .318 or better except for 1950, when he was injured and played only 48 games.

 


While working on this page, it occurred to me you could put together a good team comprised of players whose names or nicknames rhymed with "Dolly."

Charlie Grimm, long-time National League first baseman, latter a long-time manager, usually associated with the Chicago Cubs, was nicknamed "Jolly Cholly."

Pitcher-outfielder Harry Colliflower, who played for Cleveland of the National League in 1899, was nicknamed "Collie." More on him later.

Ed Holly played shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1907, which earned him a trip back to the minors. He played for Pittsburgh of the Federal League in 1914-15. After he quit playing, he managed the Montreal Royals from 1928-32, which is probably why he's in the International League Hall of Fame.

Dave Jolly was a pitcher with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-57.

Outfielder "Molly" Meloan is detailed elsewhere. Baseball had two more "Mollys" — "Molly" Craft, who made 29 pitching appearances over four years (1916-19) for Washington, and lost all four decisions, and "Molly" Moore, who played several positions for the 1875 Brooklyn Athletics of the National Association.

There've been several "Ollies," including outfielder Ollie Brown who was with six teams from 1965-77. Ollie Pickering bounced from the minors to the majors over 17 years from the 1890s to the early 1900s, and I can't resist mentioning "Ollie" Bejma, an infielder who played for the St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox in the 1930s, and who batted .301 in 12 minor league seasons. He was the American Association most valuable player in 1938 when he hit .326 for St. Paul.

Another Ollie — that was his real name; it wasn't short for Oliver — was nicknamed "Babe." His last name was Klee, and there's more on him elsewhere.

There also have been a few "Pollys," most recently second baseman Placido Polanco, who played in the majors from 1998 to 2013, and had "Polly" as his nickname. The nickname was more prominent with "Polly" McLarry, a first baseman who visited Chicago long enough to play 68 games with the White Sox and Cubs in 1912 and 1915. McLarry, whose real first name was Howard, had 2,723 during his 18 minor league seasons, and a .317 batting average.

Third baseman Nick Polly played briefly for Brooklyn in 1937 and the Boston Red Sox in 1945.

You could form a battery from the "Rollies." Among the pitchers are Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, Rollie Sheldon, Rollie Naylor and Rollies Stiles (who passed away in 2007 at the age of 100). Their catcher could be Rollie Hemsley, who played for seven teams in his 19-season career that began in 1928.

The best-known "Solly" is probably shortstop Solomon Hemus, who played in the majors for 11 seasons (1949-59), mostly for the St. Louis Cardinals. He also managed the Cardinals in 1959-60, and part of 1961. My favorite, however, is Solly Hofman, real name Arthur, who was primarily an outfielder, mostly for the Chicago Cubs, from 1903-16. He was known as "Circus Solly," named after the title character in a comic strip introduced in the Chicago Daily News newspaper in 1904.

You could add a lot of power to this line-up if you included players named "Wally," which is often pronounced to rhyme with "Ollie," though I supposed the proper pronunciation is "WALL-ee."


Anyway, outfielders Wally Berger, Wally Post and Wally Westlake, in a good season could account for 100 home runs. Backing them up would be Wally Moon and Wally Moses. There are a couple of good first basemen in Wally Joyner, aka "Wally World," and Wally Pipp. And you could have Wally Bunker pitching to Wally Schang. Bunker's the guy who was 19-5 as a 19-year-old Baltimore rookie in 1964, and never approached those numbers for the rest of his short career. (He retired at age 27.) Schang was a great catcher who played in six World Series — two for the Philadelphia Athletics, one for the Boston Red Sox, and three for the New York Yankees. Why he isn't in the Hall of Fame is a mystery.

Infielder Wally "Spooks" Gerber is mentioned elsewhere, and I recommend the SABR biography of pitcher Wally Hebert, who won his first four major league games for the St. Louis Browns in 1931, and then lost 19 of his next 22 decisions through the next season. He went on to be a 20-game winner three times in the Pacific Coast League.

One other "Wally" worth mentioning is Walter Phillip Rehg, an outfielder who spread his 268 major league games over seven seasons, playing for both Boston teams — the Red Sox and Braves — as well as Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, between 1912-1919. He spent most of his time — even during six of those seven seasons — in the minor leagues, playing until he was 41 years old. A .250 batter in the majors, he hit .300 in the minors, accumulating 2,343 hits. He was such a brash individual, that he was called "The Freshest Man in Baseball," a variation on a nickname given previously to Arlie Latham, who was known as "The Freshest Man on Earth."

NOW LET'S get back to Harry "Collie" Colliflower, who was a 30-year-old left-handed pitcher with some minor league and semi-professional experience when he found himself on perhaps the worst team in major league history, the 1899 Cleveland Spiders of the National League, winners of just 20 of their 154 games. (How bad were the Spiders? So bad that they stopped playing home games about halfway through the season, figuring no one in Cleveland would watch them.)

Colliflower was around for the last half of the season, winning his first game — then losing his last 11. In 98 innings, he hit more batters (11) than he struck out (8). His .083 winning percentage wasn't the worst on the team, however. Teammate Frank Bates had a 1-18 record (.053). The "ace" of the Spiders pitching staff was Jim Hughey, who won four games — and lost 30. Charlie Knepper also won four games, and lost only 22.

Because he was a good hitter — a .303 batting average in 76 at bats — Colliflower played a few games at first base and in the outfield. After the season, he returned home to Washington, D. C., and played the in a local semi-pro league.

But on August 1, 1903, the Washington Even Star reported that Colliflower was "umpiring in the New England States League. He is very well and is called the ‘Prince of Umpires.’ ”

In 1910, at the age of 41, Colliflower was back in the majors, this time as an American League umpire. He lasted 46 games before being re-assigned to the Eastern League. Turned out he was no prince among umpires.

Many years later, on April 30, 1935, Colliflower was the subject of a syndicated newspaper column written by Harry Grayson, who had talked to Billy Evans, a former American League umpire. (I found the column in the Saratoga Springs Saratogian.)

Evans was so highly regarded that he's one of the few umpires elected to the Hall of Fame. He had worked with Colliflower, and remembered him as "the world's worst umpire," but what annoyed Evans was how Colliflower copied him.

"Colliflower joins me in St. Louis . . . I eat a sort of woman's breakfast for a bit fellow — orange juice,, cinnamon rolls, and a cup of coffee.

" 'That's do for me,' says Colliflower.

"There is a sale of shirts at one of the store. I buy half a dozen.

"Wrap up six of the same kind, size 15-1/2, for me,' Colliflower instructs the clerk.

"I think nothing of it at the time, but as the days roll on, Colliflower gets in my hair. He rises and retired when I do, eats what I eat, and wears what I wear.

"I wear a diamond ring that my father gave me, and Colliflower shows up with one that looks something like it.

" 'Now I'm a real big league umpire,' he beams. 'This isn't as good as yours,' he beams. 'This isn't as good as yours, but it will be all right as long as I keep it out of water.'

"I order apple pie for dessert one night, and Colliflower kicks through with his customary, 'That'll do for me.' I got to waiting for that, and to biting my tongue to keep from screaming. In this instance I decided to switch to lemon meringue. 'Change mine, too, please,' chirps my partner."

Needless to say, Evans was pleased when Colliflower was sent to the Eastern League.

 
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