Academic journal article Base Ball

Hot Head

Academic journal article Base Ball

Hot Head

Article excerpt

Hot Head Review by Joanne Hulbert Bad Bill Dahlen: The Rollicking Life and Times of an Early Baseball Star, Lyle Spatz. McFarland & Company, Inc., 2004, 242 pp, $29.95 (paper).

Lyle Spatz wants to know why William Frederick Dahlen-a standout player for the Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and Boston Braves-has suffered a still unresolved shutout by the Baseball Hall of Fame. In this detailed biography, Spatz demonstrates that Dahlen's stats are comparable to those of many players long since voted in; Bill James also rates Dahlen among the players most egregiously overlooked by Hall of Fame voters. When first eligible in 1936, Dahlen received just one vote; he received another single vote in 1938. Granted, he was up against some tough competition in those early years; but why should such an outstanding player of his time be perpetually overlooked? Contemporary accounts called him "a cat on his feet, a sure fielder, and one of the quickest thinking players of his day." But he also had a reputation for indifference, abusiveness, and playing dirty. The Hall of Fame at Cooperstown has voted in players and other baseball notables who had reputations for bluster, bellicosity, and belligerence. Ty Cobb, John McGraw, and Ted Williams were hardly known for their diplomatic skills.

Prior to reading Bad Bill Dahlen, I also had only a fleeting awareness of him from reading accounts in the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers. I had read anecdotes that portrayed him as alternately brilliant, detached, or utterly mean. Despite the indisputable evidence of Dahlen's star qualities, Spatz reveals how his brilliance on the field was often overshadowed by his sullen behavior and his interpersonal di[double dagger]culties. …

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