George Woodrow Dockins was a soft-tossing, perpetually sore-armed left-handed pitcher. He was born in Clyde, Kansas, to Joseph and Ida (Moffatt) Dockins on May 5, 1917. One of four children, he attended Joines School, just north of Clyde, until the eighth grade. As a youth, Dockins loved baseball and played in the Ban Johnson League in nearby Concordia, Kansas.
In 1939 the Cardinals’ Branch Rickey signed Dockins to his first professional contract. He began his pro career with the Class D Hamilton (Ontario) Red Wings of the PONY League, where he posted a 15–5 record with a 2.93 ERA. Dockins spent the next two seasons with the Mobile Shippers of the Class B Southeastern League. In 1941 he was the league’s top pitcher, winning twenty games with a league-leading 2.05 ERA.
Dockins started the 1942 season with the Rochester Red Wings of the International League. After splitting six decisions, he was optioned to the New Orleans Pelicans of the Southern Association, where he fared much better. George joined the Pelicans on May 27 and showed “poise …[,] control, and a world of stuff.”1 Leading the circuit in winning percentage, he posted a 14–5 mark, walking only twenty batters in 160 innings. On August 12, he tossed eight and two-thirds hitless innings against Little Rock, before an infield single spoiled his bid for a no-hitter.
George Dockins appeared in just four games, making his
final big league appearance on August 19.
That September, Dockins was one of nine farmhands added to the Cardinals’ winter roster.2 St. Louis pilot Billy Southworth fully expected him to make the big league club in 1943. New Orleans Statesman sportswriter Val J. Flanagan predicted Dockins and fellow Pelicans lefty Bill Seinsoth “are expected to become the next [Howie] Pollet[Ernie] White combination for the Cardinals.”3 The Associated Press selected Dockins and George Munger of the Columbus Red Birds as the best Cardinals rookie pitching bets for 1943.4
But, instead, Dockins was the Opening Day starting pitcher for the Columbus Red Birds. He