Bill Dickey sometimes seems to get lost in the shuffle of all-time Yankees greats. Yes, for sure, he was a batter who took advantage of Yankee Stadium – as 135 of is 202 lifetime homeruns were hit in the Bronx. But, Dickey was also durable and one of the best hitting catchers in the modern era (post-1900) of baseball – and remains there today.
First, the proof of his stability: How many catchers in the history of baseball have caught 100+ games in a season for 13 years in a row? The answer is just two: Bill Dickey and Johnny Bench. Very impressive.
Secondly, regarding Dickey’s standing among modern catchers with the bat. When Bill retired in 1946, it was basically him, Mickey Cochrane, and Gabby Hartnett at the top of the list in terms of great offensive catchers. In the 20 years that passed after his retirement, this fact was only changed by the addition of Yogi Berra to the list. In the 50 years that passed after Dickey’s retirement, the only other catcher to warrant inclusion to this group was Johnny Bench. And, as of today, you would have to include Mike Piazza as well.
Therefore, at the worst, today, Bill Dickey has a claim towards being the 6th best batting catcher in the history of modern era baseball. And, by many sabermetric measures, Dickey would rank as the 2nd or 3rd greatest of all-time.
Most Yankee fans know that Bill Dickey was a great player – as he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954 and the Yankees retired his number (8) in 1972 along with honoring Yogi Berra (who also wore #8). At the time, this was just the 6th number ever retired by the Yankees.
But, there are probably just as many Yankee fans who would list catchers like Fisk, Carter, Campanella, I-Rod, on their list of great hitting catchers before getting to Dickey, and this would be wrong. Bill Dickey, as an offensive catcher, has very few peers.