Position: Third Baseman
Teams: Detroit Stars, Nashville Elite Giants, Newark Dodgers, Newark Eagles; New York Cubans, 1933-1949

One of the greatest fielding third basemen in baseball history, Ray Dandridge, was a high-average hitter who batted .362 at age 36 in the American Association.

Ray Dandridge played with teams south of the U.S. border for nearly a decade.
Ray Dandridge played with teams south
of the U.S. border for nearly a decade.

Raymond Dandridge (1913-1994) was born in Richmond, Virginia. He was a Golden Glove amateur boxer as a young man. He was playing with his hometown sandlot team when it played the barnstorming Detroit Stars in 1933. The Stars were led by Candy Jim Taylor, and when he saw Ray’s quickness in the outfield, Taylor knew that he had a potentially great infielder on his hands.

Ray used a very light bat and swung for the fences. Taylor gave Dandridge a lesson in contact hitting, using a heavy bat, making contact, and placing the ball. Ray compiled a .355 lifetime average in the Negro Leagues, using the best data available, and hit .347 against white major-leaguers during the course of his career.

Defensively, Ray had terrific reflexes and a fine arm, and Taylor put Dandridge first at shortstop, the position that Taylor played. It was not until Ray was with the Newark Dodgers that he was moved to third base -- by Dick Lundy, another shortstop. Ray was unequaled at third, with a glove often compared to Brooks Robinson’s, but a better arm. Ray was a familiar sight at second base as well -- and any fan could recognize the bowlegged Dandridge.

Dandridge played in the Negro Leagues from 1933 to 1938. In 1939, he took a higher offer to play at Vera Cruz in the Mexican League. His manager, shortstop Willie “Devil” Wells, moved Ray to second base because Ray was hard of hearing on his left side and he couldn’t hear the instructions from his skipper. Ray made good money for his time as one of the star players in Mexican baseball.

While in Mexico, Dandridge had been approached by Cleveland about joining their system, but would not go without a bonus. Alex Pompez, the owner of the New York Cubans and a scout for the Giants, signed him for the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association in 1949. Dandridge could hardly have played better.

He narrowly missed the batting title with a .362 average, and was voted the loop’s Rookie of the Year in 1949. In 1950, he hit .311 and won the MVP Award. He also became a mentor to teammate Willie Mays. But Dandridge was never called up. Ray was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.

Here are Ray Dandridge's Negro League totals*:

BA
G
AB
H
2B
3B
HR
SB
.355229824
276
40

13

4
1

*Note: Dandridge's career statistics are incomplete.

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