Photo reprint of Eddie Dyer & Joe Cronin on the July 1947 cover of Sport Magazine
Edwin Hawley Dyer (October 11, 1899 – April 20, 1964) was an American left-handed pitcher, manager and farm system official in Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1922–1944 and 1946–1950. In 1946, Dyer’s first season at the helm of the Cardinals, the Redbirds defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in a thrilling National League season that featured the first postseason playoff in baseball history, then bested the favored Boston Red Sox in a seven-game World Series.
Edwin Hawley Dyer was born October 11, 1899, in Morgan City, Louisiana, the fourth of seven children of Joseph M. and Alice Natalie Dyer. Baseball encyclopedias give his birth date as 1900, but his son Eddie Jr. says he subtracted a year from his age when he entered professional ball. U.S. census and military draft records confirm this. . He was an outstanding football, baseball and track and field athlete as part of the Morgan City High School, Class of 1917.
His father owned a general store and a lumber yard and served as mayor of Morgan City, but lost it all during a recession before World War I and moved his family to Houston, Texas where an oil boom was just beginning. Dyer earned an athletic scholarship to Rice Institute and lettered in three sports (football, baseball, track), winning the Southwest Conference championship in the broad jump and earning a berth on the All-SWC football team in 1920. He was the Owl’s football captain in 1921. He was also All-SWC in each of his three years of varsity baseball (1919, 1920, 1921). He pitched a no-hitter against Baylor’s Ted Lyons, later a Hall of Fame pitcher for the White Sox. Dyer left school two credits short of graduation in 1922 when Branch Rickey gave him a $2,500 bonus to sign with the Cardinals. The money paid off his father’s debts and put his youngest brother, Sammy, through one year of college. In 1936, Dyer completed requirements for his bachelor’s degree from Rice.
Playing career with St. Louis Cardinals
The 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m), 168 lb (76 kg) Dyer was a versatile player, playing outfield and first base in addition to pitching. He made his debut with the Cardinals on the mound on July 8, 1922 and pitched twice in relief before he was farmed out to Syracuse, at the highest minor-league level.
The next spring Rickey sent him to Houston, then to Wichita Falls, both in the Texas League, to play the outfield. When he didn’t hit, he became a full-time pitcher.
On September 9, 1923, in Dyer’s first start as pitcher, he pitched a complete game shutout of the Chicago Cubs, winning 3-0.
In 1924 he stuck with the Cardinals, but posted a 4.61 ERA and an 8-11 record, dividing his time between starting and relieving for the sixth-place club. The next year he lowered his ERA to 4.15, pitching primarily in relief. Rickey moved into the front office and the Cardinals’ star second baseman, Rogers Hornsby, became manager in 1925. He and Dyer did not get along. According to one account, Dyer told Hornsby, “I’ll never play on this club as long as you’re the manager.” That earned him a return ticket to Syracuse in 1926, while the Cardinals won their first World Championship.
In 1927 Dyer pitched once for St. Louis before he headed to Syracuse again. He won six games in a row, but on June 30 he hurt his arm in his first loss. That finished his pitching career.
He appeared for the Cardinals in 129 games over all or parts of six seasons (1922–1927) — although 1924 and 1925 were his only full seasons in the majors — splitting 30 pitching decisions with an earned run average of 4.78, and batting .223 in 157 at bats with two home runs and 13 runs batted in.
Manager and executive in St. Louis Cardinals farm system
From 1928 on, Dyer would manage in the Cardinal farm system, continuing his playing career as an outfielder through 1933. He completed his Rice degree in 1936 and coached freshman football here (during baseball’s off-season) for several years. In addition, Dyer served as business manager or club president of the teams he managed, and in 1938 he supervised all of the Cardinal farm teams in the Southern and Southwestern United States.
The most important of these was Dyer’s hometown Houston Buffaloes, the Cardinals’ club in the Class A Texas League. He took over as the Buffaloes’ manager from 1939–1941 and led them to three consecutive first-place finishes and one league playoff championship, averaging 102 victories.
During much of the wartime period that followed, Dyer was director of the entire Cardinals farm system, although he left that post in the midst of the 1944 season to tend to his oil, real estate and insurance businesses in Houston.
Skipper of postwar Cardinals
At the war’s end, and with the big league Cardinals in need of a manager upon Billy Southworth’s departure for the Boston Braves, Dyer returned to baseball and his first Major-League managing assignment in 1946. The Cardinals were a powerhouse, having won three straight NL pennants from 1942–1944 and finished second in 1941 and 1945, but 1946 was an extremely challenging season for Dyer and his team. He had to blend returning war veterans and young players with Southworth’s wartime club, and lost three key players — undefeated left-handed pitcher Max Lanier, second baseman Lou Klein and relief pitcher Fred Martin — to the marauding Mexican League.
Dyer also had to deal with the Cards’ implacable foes, the Dodgers of Leo Durocher, back at full strength after the war. Led by pitchers Howie Pollet and Harry Brecheen, and the hitting and leadership of future Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter, the Cardinals made up a five-game All-Star Break deficit, won 14 of their 22 regular-season games with the Dodgers, and were tied with Brooklyn for the pennant on the season’s final day. The Cards then swept the Dodgers in a best-of-three playoff behind the pitching of Pollet and Murry Dickson.
In the 1946 World Series, the Redbirds faced what would be the only World Series in which Ted Williams would play. The Red Sox had breezed to the American League pennant by 12 games and featured 20-game winners Dave Ferriss and Tex Hughson. Idle during the NL playoffs, Boston played an exhibition game against an AL “all-star” team in an effort to tune up for the Fall Classic. Williams was struck on the elbow by a pitch, and when the Series began, he was ineffective. Brecheen won three games, the Cardinals played inspired baseball, and in the deciding seventh game, Slaughter scored from first on a double (often mistakenly remembered as a single) by Harry Walker, a shocking feat. His was the winning run in the game and the Series.
From baseball to the business world
The 1946 world championship was Dyer’s high-water mark as Cardinal manager. The following season, Brooklyn upset the balance of power in the National League by boldly breaking the color line. In May, the Cardinals became embroiled in a hotly denied rumor that they planned to strike, rather than permit Jackie Robinson on a Major League diamond — although Dyer was not implicated in the rumor. More damaging, for the next decade, the Cardinals would lag behind most of the other NL clubs in signing African-American players. Overall, the Cardinals reverted to bridesmaid status, finishing second from 1947–1949, although they trailed the Dodgers by only one game in 1949. With the team’s legendary farm system struggling without its founder — Branch Rickey, the very man who brought Robinson to Brooklyn — the Cardinals’ quarter-century of baseball dominance was coming to an end. In 1950, they fell to fifth and Dyer stepped down as manager at the end of the season.
During his five years as St. Louis manager, the Cardinals won 446 games and lost 325 for a stellar .578 winning percentage. But Dyer preferred to manage his thriving Houston-area businesses rather than seek another managing job in baseball. He suffered a stroke in January 1963, and died in Houston in April of the following year at the age of 64.
Joseph Edward Cronin (October 12, 1906 – September 7, 1984) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) shortstop, manager and general manager. He also served as president of the American League (AL) for 14 years.
During a 20-year playing career, he played from 1926–45 for three different teams, primarily for the Boston Red Sox. Cronin was a major league manager from 1933–47. A seven-time All-Star, Cronin was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. Cronin became the first AL player to become an All-Star with two teams.
Cronin was born in Excelsior District of San Francisco, California. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake had cost his Irish Catholic parents almost all of their possessions. Cronin attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. He played several sports as a child and he won a city tennis championship for his age group when he was 14. As he was not greatly interested in school, Cronin’s grades improved only when the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League began giving away tickets to students with good conduct and attendance. At the time, the nearest MLB team was nearly 2,000 miles from San Francisco.
Major league career
As a player
Baseball promoter Joe Engel, who scouted for the Senators and managed the Chattanooga Lookouts at Engel Stadium, originally signed Cronin. Engel first spotted Cronin playing in Kansas City. “I knew I was watching a great player”, Engel said. “I bought Cronin at a time he was hitting .221. When I told Clark Griffith what I had done, he screamed, ‘You paid $7,500 for that bum? Well, you didn’t buy him for me. You bought him for yourself. He’s not my ballplayer – he’s yours. You keep him and don’t either you or Cronin show up at the ballpark.'”
In 1930, Cronin had a breakout year, batting .346 with 13 home runs and 126 RBI. Cronin won both the AL Writers’ MVP (the forerunner of the BBWAA MVP, established in 1931) and the AL Sporting News MVP. His 1931 season was also outstanding, with him posting a .306 average, 12 home runs, and 126 RBIs. Cronin led the Senators to the 1933 World Series and later married Griffith’s niece, Mildred Robertson.
As a player-manager and manager
Cronin was named player-manager of the Senators in 1933, a post he would hold for two years. In 1935, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox by Griffith, also as player-manager. Cronin retired as a player in 1945, but remained manager of the Red Sox until 1947.
As early as 1938, it was apparent that Cronin was nearing the end of his playing career. Red Sox farm director Billy Evans thought he had found Cronin’s successor in Pee Wee Reese, the star shortstop for the Louisville Colonels of the Triple-A American Association. He was so impressed by Reese that he was able to talk Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey into buying the Colonels and making them the Red Sox’ top farm club. However, when Cronin went to scout Reese, Cronin realized that they were asking him to scout his replacement. He deliberately downplayed Reese’s talent and suggested that the Red Sox trade him. Reese was eventually traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he went on to a Hall of Fame career. As it turned out, Evans’ and Yawkey’s initial concerns about Cronin were valid. His last year as a full-time player was 1941; after that year he never played more than 76 games in a season.
Over his career, Cronin batted .300 or higher eight times, as well as driving in 100 runs or more eight times. He finished with a .301 average, 170 home runs, and 1,424 RBIs.
As a manager, he compiled a 1,236–1,055 record and won two American League pennants (in 1933 and 1946). His 1933 Senators dropped the 1933 World Series to the New York Giants, and his 1946 Boston Red Sox lost the 1946 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
As a general manager
At the end of the 1947 season, Cronin succeeded Eddie Collins as general manager of the Red Sox and held the post for over 11 years, through mid-January 1959. The Red Sox challenged for the AL pennant in 1948–49 (finishing second by a single game both seasons) thanks to Cronin’s aggressive trades. In his first off-season, he acquired shortstop Vern Stephens and pitchers Ellis Kinder and Jack Kramer from the St. Louis Browns; all played major roles in Boston’s contending 1948 season, and Kinder and Stephens were centerpieces of the Red Sox’ 1949–50 contenders as well.
But the Red Sox began a slow decline during the 1950s and did not seriously contend after 1950. With the exception of Ted Williams (who missed most of the 1952–53 seasons while serving in the Korean War), the 1946–50 core of the team aged quickly and the Red Sox faced a significant rebuilding job starting in 1952. Cronin’s acquisition of future American League Most Valuable Player Jackie Jensen from Washington in 1954 represented a coup, but the club misfired on several “bonus babies” who never lived up to their potential.
Most attention has been focused on Cronin and Yawkey’s refusal to integrate the Red Sox roster; by January 1959, when Cronin’s GM term ended, the Red Sox were the only team in the big leagues without an African-American or Afro-Caribbean player. Notably, Cronin once passed on signing a young Willie Mays and never traded for an African-American player. The Red Sox did not break the baseball color line until six months after Cronin’s departure for the AL presidency, when they promoted Pumpsie Green, a utility infielder, from their Triple-A affiliate, the Minneapolis Millers, in July 1959.
As AL president
In January 1959, Cronin was elected president of the American League, the first former player to be so elected and the fourth full-time chief executive in the league’s history. When he replaced the retiring Will Harridge, who became board chairman, Cronin moved the league’s headquarters from Chicago to Boston. Cronin served as AL president until December 31, 1973, when he was succeeded by Lee MacPhail.
During Cronin’s 15 years in office, the Junior Circuit expanded from eight to 12 teams, adding the Los Angeles Angels and expansion Washington Senators in 1961 and the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots in 1969.
It also endured four franchise shifts: the relocation of the original Senators club (owned by Cronin’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Calvin Griffith and Thelma Griffith Haynes) to Minneapolis–Saint Paul, creating the Minnesota Twins (1961); the shift of the Athletics from Kansas City to Oakland (1968); the transfer of the Pilots after only one season in Seattle to Milwaukee as the Brewers (1970); and the transplantation of the expansion Senators after 11 seasons in Washington, D.C., to Dallas–Fort Worth as the Texas Rangers (1972). The Angels also moved from Los Angeles to adjacent Orange County in 1966 and adopted a regional identity, in part because of the dominance of the National League Dodgers, who were the Angels’ landlords at “Chavez Ravine” (Dodger Stadium) from 1962–65. Of the four expansion teams that joined the league beginning in 1961, three abandoned their original host cities within a dozen years (the Pilots after only one season), and only one team—the Royals—remained in its original municipality. Two of the charter members of the old eight-team league, the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians, also suffered significant attendance woes and were targets of relocation efforts by other cities.
In addition, the AL found itself at a competitive disadvantage compared with the National League during Cronin’s term. With strong teams in larger markets and a host of new stadiums, the NL outdrew the AL for 33 consecutive years (1956–88); in 1973, Cronin’s final season as league president, the NL attracted 55 percent of total MLB attendance, 16.62 million vs. 13.38 million total fans, despite the opening of Royals Stadium in Kansas City and the American League’s adoption of the designated hitter rule, which was designed to spark scoring and fan interest. While the National League held only an 8–7 edge in World Series play during the Cronin era, it dominated the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, going 15–3–1 in the 19 games played from 1959–73.
After the 1968 season, Cronin drew headlines when he fired AL umpires Al Salerno and Bill Valentine, ostensibly for poor performance; however, it later surfaced that the two officials were fired for attempting to organize an umpires’ union. Neither man was reinstated (Valentine became a successful minor league front-office executive), but the Major League Umpires Association was formed anyway, two years later. However, in 1966, Cronin was hailed for integrating MLB’s umpiring staff with the promotion of veteran minor league arbiter Emmett Ashford to the American League.
Hall of Fame
Joe Cronin was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (with Hank Greenberg) in 1956.
In the last months of his life, Cronin struggled with cancer that had invaded his prostate and bones; he suffered a great deal of bone pain as a result. Cronin came to Fenway Park for one of his last public appearances when his jersey number 4 was retired by the Red Sox on May 29, 1984. He died at the age of 77 on September 7, 1984, at his home in Osterville, Massachusetts. He is buried in St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in nearby Centerville.