Dixie Walker

A Life in Baseball

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About the Book

Over the course of fifty years in the mid-twentieth century, Fred “Dixie” Walker lived several baseball lives. Dubbed the successor to Babe Ruth after his impressive major league debut in 1931, Walker went from sure-fire prospect to injury-plagued underachiever, to Brooklyn hero, to persona non grata because of his complicated relationship with Jackie Robinson, and finally to redeemed, well-respected minor league manager and major league batting coach. The only player to have been a teammate of both Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, Walker is remembered too often for the charge that he tried to keep Robinson from joining the Dodgers. This illuminating biography covers Walker’s rollercoaster career, revealing him to be a gentle man, a fiery competitor, and one of the most colorful characters of baseball’s most memorable era.

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: 273
Bibliographic Info: 42 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4633-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8562-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Preface      1

PART I—BEFORE THE DODGERS

1. Born to Play Baseball      7

2. A Minor League Sensation      13

3. The Guy to Take Babe Ruth’s Place      20

4. The Lost Years      30

5. Radical Surgery and a Career Revived      38

6. The Most Unpopular Man in Detroit      47

PART II—THE DODGERS

7. “All I knew about Brooklyn was that it was some strange outer world”      57

8. The People’s Choice      67

9. An Almost Perfect Team      79

10. A Pennant and a World Series      90

11. The 1942 Dodgers Look to Repeat      99

12. “Men, you are going to lose this pennant”      106

13. The War Begins to Affect Baseball      114

14. The 1944 National League Batting Champion      123

15. “The most beloved baseball player of recent years”      134

16. The War Ends and the Battle with the Cardinals Resumes      144

17. Playoffs, Pensions, and a Promotion      156

18. “It was the dumbest thing I did in all my life”      166

19. Jackie Robinson Joins the Dodgers      177

20. Dixie and Jackie Bring a Pennant to Brooklyn      186

PART III—AFTER THE DODGERS

21. “The place doesn’t look the same since you’ve gone, Dixie”      199

22. Managing in the Minor Leagues      208

23. Ending His Career in Dodger Blue      219

24. Was Dixie Walker a Racist?      227

Chapter Notes      233

Bibliography      249

Index      255