Dazzy Vance

Position: Pitcher
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1915; New York Yankees, 1915; 1918; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1922-1932; 1935; St. Louis Cardinals, 1933-1934; Cincinnati Reds, 1934

No player in the Hall of Fame took longer to make his mark in the major leagues than Dazzy Vance. Nicknamed by an uncle who noted the way Dazzy idolized a cowboy entertainer who pronounced daisy as dazzy, Clarence Arthur Vance (1891-1961) was born in Orient, Iowa. He began his professional career with Red Cloud of the Nebraska State League in 1912. Nine years later he was still buried in the minors, the owner of an 0-4 record at the major-league level.

Dazzy Vance lied about his age in order to receive a second chance in the majors.
Dazzy Vance lied about his age to
receive a second chance in the majors.

Already past age 30, Vance had shaved two years off his birthdate early in his career. It paid off when the Dodgers, assuming that he was 29 rather than 31, gave him a long look in 1922 after he won 21 games for New Orleans of the Southern Association. Dazzy responded by winning 18 games in his first full big-league test and topping the National League in strikeouts for the first of seven consecutive seasons.

Vance’s finest mark came two years later in 1924, when he bagged 28 victories for Brooklyn, fanned 262 hitters, and had a loop-leading 2.16 ERA.

Featuring a blistering fastball and an excellent curve, Dazzy walked just 1.8 batters per game in 1928 to pace the National League. A part of Vance’s success in baffling hitters came from the tattered undershirt he wore beneath his uniform. The ragged right sleeve gave him what many batters considered to be an unfair advantage and earned vociferous protests.

Finally, the success enjoyed by Vance and other hurlers, like Johnny Allen, who sported flapping sleeves caused a rule to be written prohibiting pitchers from wearing such items as shredded undergarments or white wristbands.

Although never on a pennant winner in Brooklyn, Vance made more money than many stars on contending teams. His salary in 1930, for example, was probably higher than what any of the members of the flag-winning Cardinals received, with the possible exception of Frankie Frisch.

Ironically, Vance’s only postseason experience came with the Cardinals. Nearing the end of the line, he was a reliever and occasional starter for the Gashouse Gang team that won the 1934 world championship. Dazzy’s lone fall appearance came in Game 4 when he relieved starter Tex Carleton and fanned three Detroit Tigers in 11/3 innings that he worked.

Released the following spring, Vance hooked on with the Dodgers for one last season. He retired to Florida at age 44 with 197 career victories, all of them coming after his 30th birthday. In 1955, Vance was elected to the Hall of Fame. He died in 1961.

Here are Dazzy Vance's major league totals:





















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