You know, Diz was
just a big, raw-boned 22-year-old kid out of the Ozarks when I joined the
Cardinals. He was having his first 20-win season, the writers were just
starting to come around and Diz loved the attention so much that he'd give them
all a different story. I mean, from the ground up. Different age, different
birthplace, even a different name. A writer would come in and Diz would tell
him his name was Jerome Herman Dean and that he was born in Arkansas. The next
day he'd tell another writer that he was really Jay Hanna Dean from Tennessee
and had adopted the other name when he signed his first baseball contract, in
memory of a cousin who had drowned in a swimming hole. I'd sit there and listen
to him, and I'd say, "Diz, why do you tell these people you were born in
all these different places? You're gonna run out of states south of the
Mason-Dixon line pretty soon." He'd say, "They got to write a story,
partner. I'm big news now. If I give this one the same story, what's there left
for him to write? That ain't news."
The season that
was to make the Gas House Gang famous began with the Great Dean Holdout. Diz
had already signed his contract for something like $7,800, even though he had
won 20 games the year before. But he wasn't holding out for himself. His
brother Paul, who had never pitched a big-league game in his life, was coming
up that year, and when Diz learned that Paul had signed for $3,000 he told
Rickey, the Cardinals' vice-president and general manager, "You cheated my
brother," and refused to put his uniform on.
All the while that
Diz was holding out to get Paul more money, Paul, who wanted nothing more than
a chance to pitch, was in uniform working out with the team.
It finally got
settled with Paul maybe getting another $500. The other story was that he
The day Diz
finally put on his uniform, a group of newspapermen took him into the lower
bleacher stands at Daytona Beach to interview him. Some of us were holding a
pepper game right in front of them, with our backs to the bleachers, and we're
all on the ear because everybody on the team got a kick out of Diz.
about me," Dean told the writers. "My arm is made of rubber. I'll be
ready to pitch in two days." (That's what Diz always said: "My arm is
made of rubber. I'll be ready in two days.")
your brother Paul?"
about Paul. He'll do all right."
never pitched in the major leagues."
he's a fine pitcher. He's gonna do real good."