Bill Dickey (June 6, 1907 - November 12, 1993) was a Major League Baseball player and manager. One of the most famous catchers in league history, he played his entire career with the New York Yankees. His mentor was Albert Edwin Dickey. Ed Dickey often sat in the dugout with Bill as his personal coach. It has been noted that Ed lost his index finger in a bench clearing brawl when Ty Cobb bit his finger off at the knuckle. Bill Dickey broke into the Majors in 1928 and played his first full season in 1929. It was his first of ten seasons out of eleven with a .300+ batting average. Although his offensive production was overshadowed by Yankees greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, in the late 1930s Dickey posted some of the finest offensive seasons ever by a catcher, hitting over 20 home runs with 100 RBI in four consecutive seasons (1936 - 1939). Dickey was also noted for his ability to handle pitchers and his strong throwing arm. Also drawing respect for his relentlessly competitive nature, Dickey broke the jaw of an opposing player with one punch in a 1932 game after a collision at home plate, and received a 30-day suspension and $1,000 fine as punishment.
Dickey appeared in eight World Series with the Yankees and won seven World Series championships.
In 1942, while still an active player, Dickey appeared as himself in the film The Pride of the Yankees, which starred Gary Cooper as the late Yankee captain and first baseman Lou Gehrig. Dickey had been regarded as Gehrig's best friend on the team, and while the title of Yankee captain remained officially vacant until it was awarded to Thurman Munson in 1976, Dickey was seen by many as the Yankees' new leader on the field.
After several seasons of offensive stagnation and time off during World War II, Dickey took on the role of managing the Yankees in 1946 and led the team to 3rd place in the American League. He retired after the season, having compiled 202 home runs, 1209 RBI and a .313 batting average over his career.
In 1949, Dickey returned to the Yankees as a coach, as first base coach and as catching instructor, to aid Yogi Berra in playing the position. In his trademark fractured English, Berra said, "Bill Dickey is learning me all of his experiences." Already a good hitter, Berra became an excellent defensive catcher. With Berra having inherited his uniform number 8, Dickey wore number 33 until the 1960 season.
Dickey was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954. In 1972, the Yankees retired uniform number 8 for both Dickey and Berra. On August 22, 1988, the Yankees honored both catchers with plaques to be hung in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Dickey's calls him "An elementary Yankee" who "is considered the greatest catcher of all time." This is in dispute, since Berra's performance has led some to regard him as the greatest in baseball history, or at least the greatest in Yankee history. Like Berra, Dickey was named in 1999 to The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, ranking number 57, trailing Johnny Bench (16), Josh Gibson (18), Berra (40) and Roy Campanella (50) among catchers. Also like those catchers, Dickey was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, but the fan balloting chose Berra and Bench as the two catchers on the team.
Preceded by: Joe McCarthy New York Yankees Manager 1946 Succeeded by: Johnny Neun