Bad Bill Dahlen

The Rollicking Life and Times of an Early Baseball Star


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About the Book

He was often nonchalant and unfocused, showing up minutes before a game. He was rumored to get himself ejected so he could get to the racetrack. He was feisty, and abusive towards umpires even by today’s standards. And he’s among the best shortstops ever to play the game. “Bad Bill” Dahlen retired having played in more games than anyone in major league history; he was in the top ten for walks, extra base hits, RBI’s and stolen bases; and he led all shortstops in games, assists, putouts and double plays. He starred in both the 19th century and the deadball era, and managed as well. He’s a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, right? Wrong. Player after player with lower career ratings has been admitted, yet Dahlen has been ignored. Maybe time has clouded memories of the brilliance of this offensive dynamo and master of his position—but how much longer can it be before Bad Bill Dahlen takes his rightful place in Cooperstown?
This examination of Bill Dahlen’s career as a player and manager highlights his strengths and weaknesses, personal and professional. Chronicling his achievements and placing him in context with the greats of all time, it makes a strong case that Bill Dahlen is a Hall of Fame shortstop, head and shoulders above many inductees. Seventeen chapters and 49 photographs trace his career; appendices compare his numbers to his Hall of Fame contemporaries, Hall of Fame shortstops, and list his lifetime batting and fielding statistics. Notes, a bibliography and an index are included.

About the Author(s)

Lyle Spatz recently stepped down after 25 years as the chairman of SABR’s Baseball Records Committee. He is the recipient of SABR’s Bob Davids and Henry Chadwick Awards, and among the books he has written or edited are biographies of Bill Dahlen, Willie Keeler, Dixie Walker and Hugh Casey.

Bibliographic Details

Lyle Spatz
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 50 photos, tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1978-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8434-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements      vii

Introduction      1

1. From Nelliston to Chicago      3

2. The Best Young Player in the Game      8

3. A Record-Breaking Hitting Streak      23

4. “A Disorderly Element,” but Another Marvelous Season      34

5. The Captain Becomes Expendable      47

6. A Trade to Brooklyn Brings a Championship      60

7. One of the Great Teams of All Time      74

8. The American League Comes Calling      93

9. “It Has Always Been My Ambition to Play in New York City”      110

10. The Most Hated Team in Baseball      124

11. From “Bad Bill” to “Bill the Wizard”      136

12. The Giants Fade, and So Does Dahlen      149

13. Banished to Boston      160

14. Managing the Dodgers      170

15. Building a Contender. for Someone Else      184

16. The End of the Line      199

17. From Nelliston to Cooperstown      206

Appendix A: Bill Dahlen and His Hall of Fame Contemporaries      209

Appendix B: Bill Dahlen and Hall of Fame Shortstops      212

Appendix C: Bill Dahlen’s Lifetime Batting Statistics      217

Appendix D: Bill Dahlen’s Lifetime Fielding Statistics      219

Notes      221

Selected Bibliography      232

Index      235

Book Reviews & Awards

“comprehensive…meticulously researched…valuable…very well-researched…excellent read. Spatz’ book is distinguished by its strong writing and by its balanced and detailed coverage of Bill Dahlen’s extraordinary career”—SABR Deadball Committee Newsletter; “commendable”—Nine; “good read and recommended”—Nineteenth Century Notes; “rich detail about individual games and seasons…his stormy relationship with his first big league manager, Cap Anson of Chicago, is well recounted”—Little Falls Times; “Spatz’s story recalls the career of an interesting player in brisk narrative fashion and with a sure-handed command of the facts. … A good read and recommended”— Bill Lamb, Newsletter of SABR’s Nineteenth Century Committee