26. Bill Dickey

Hall of Famer Bill Dickey first showed his baseball potential in 1925 playing for Little Rock College in Little Rock, Arkansas His big break came while playing catcher in three games at Whittington Park in Hot Springs. Dickey was filling in for a friend on a semi-pro team who was unable to make the game and persuaded Dickey to take his position. While substituting for his friend Dickey impressed not only the manager with his throwing arm but also Lena Blackburne, the manager of the Little Rock Travelers, a minor league team, who was in Hot Springs scouting an outfielder. In the seventh inning after watching Dickey’s work Blackburne called him under the grandstand at Whittington Park and asked him if he would like to play for the Travelers. Blackburne extracted a slip of paper out of his pocket which was an agreement to sign a contract. Dickey signed and was told to report to the team the next day. 

Other teams had noticed him as well. A scout for the St. Louis Cardinals was sent to Hot Springs to sign the young catcher, but the scout’s car had a flat tire. The delay allowed the Little Rock Travelers to sign Dickey before the scout arrived. 

His path to the Yankees began when he was purchased from Little Rock for $12,000 in 1927 while out on an option with Jackson in the Cotton States League. The next year Yankees Manager Miller Huggins sent him to two minor league teams before he joined New York for 10 games.

Bill Dickey played for the Yankees from 1928 through 1943 playing in nine World Series and winning eight championships. He was named to 11 All-Star teams. After serving in the Navy during World War II he returned to the Yankees in 1946 as a player and manager. As a manager and coach the Yankees won another six World Series titles.

Arkansas born and bred Bill Dickey was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954.