Eddie Dyer: A Man for All Seasons

Eddie Dyer: The Man Who Could Do It All

Eddie Dyer. He could pitch, hit, manage, balance the books, make out payroll checks, and then go into business after baseball and became wildly successful in oil, real estate, and insurance. Oh yeah. One more thing. He knew how to win a World Series too, as he and his 1946 St. Louis Cardinals proved to all against Ted Williams and the Boston Red Sox in the seven-game thriller that was the 1946 title contest that will always be remembered for Enos Slaughter’s “mad dash” from first to home.

Born in the heart of Cajun Country in Morgan City, Louisiana on October 11, 1899, the Irishman Dyer made his way to Rice Institute (now University) as both a bright student and highly touted ballplayer. He signed with the St. louis Cardinals in 1922 as a (BL/TL) pitcher-outfielder. The future looked as bright as dawn upon the dark swamps of his birthplace.

Over parts of six seasons, 1922-27, Dyer then appeared in 129 games for the Cardinals. As a big league pitcher, he split 30 decisions and posted an ERA of 4.78. Dyer also marked a 3 win-5 loss record in a  partial season with the 1923 Houston Buffs during this same period. It was his only season as an actual player for the Buffs, but his impact as a manager was coming down the line. In 157 times at bat as a major league outfielder in the 1920s, Eddie batted only .223 and seemed well on his way to mediocrity or total oblivion.

1927 proved to be Eddie Dyer’s pivotal year. Optioned by the parent Cardinals to the Syracuse Stars of the then AA International League as a pitcher, Dyer won his first six games before an arm injury ended his pitching career for all time. His now proven intellect and leadership qualities next led the Cardinals to shift Dyer into gear as a playing manager-outfielder in their minor league system.

From 1928 through 1933, Dyer continued as a playing manager, also establishing himself along the way as a superb minor league hitter. Upon retirement from active play, Dyer hung up a career minor league BA of .311 for ten seasons. He also began to compile a list of great players who came up through the Cardinal system under his tutelage. The first of these was future Hall of Famer Joe Medwick, who played for Eddie as an outfielder for the Scottdale Scotties of the Class C Western Association in 1930. All Joe  Medwick did that year was hit .419 to lead the league.

Dyer was a triple duty money-saver for the Cardinals while he still played and then fell only to a double duty bargain after his active playing retirement in the lower minors. In each of those early stops, the Cardinals also installed Dyer as either the general manager or club president too. He may have even driven the team road-trip bus under this Branch Rickey-inspired, money-saving  mindset. I’m not sure about that bus driving extra job, but it wouldn’t surprise.

If we look closely here at the order of these next few facts, we may be able to see one of the big reasons that Eddie Dyer was headed toward dynastic minor league success in the later 1930s and early 1940s. In 1938, the Cardinals placed Dyer in charge of supervising all of their minor league operations in the southern and southwestern parts of the United States. The following season, the Cardinals made Eddie Dyer their choice for service as manager of the Houston Buffs.

Uh Oh! Going into the 1939 season, guess who has a major say and the most performance information at his fingertips and under his control for assigning players to the Houston Buffs roster?  I’m not saying we can know it worked out this way, but so what, if it did? Eddie Dyer would have been foolish not to load up at Houston, if he had the inside chance.

The results speak pretty loudly for the talent, leadership, and performance of the Buffs during Eddie Dyer’s three seasons at the helm from 1939 through 1941. The Buffs finished in first place all three of those seasons, averaging 102 wins per year and winning the playoffs for the league championship in 1940. Sadly, the 1940 Buffs then lost the Dixie Series title to the Nashville Vols in five games.

The Texas League then shut down from 1942 through 1945 due to World War II, but Eddie Dyer stayed connected to the Cardinals as he also pursued his business interests in Houston. He became manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946 and then quickly led the club that contained many of his former Houston players, pitchers like Howie Pollet, Red Munger, and Ted Wilks, to a playoff pennant victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers and a seven-game World series title over the Boston Red Sox.

The Cardinals remained fiercely competitive for the last four years of Eddie Dyer’s managerial service to the Cardinals (1947-50), but the Dodgers, Braves, Dodgers again, and Phillies got in the way of any further Dyer-Cardinal pennants.

After a fall to fifth place in 1950, Eddie Dyer resigned as manager of the Cardinals and returned to his business interests in Houston. He left a major league managerial record on the books that spoke well for his accomplishments. 446 wins. 325 losses, and a .578 winning percentage is plenty to write home about.

Eddie Dyer passed away in Houston at age 64 on April 11, 1964. His death was both a big loss to baseball and to our community because he was one of those people with the ability to infect others with his plans for success and happiness. You never want to run out of the Eddie Dyer types in this world. The loss is always felt hard and sharp.

I’ve written about Eddie Dyer in the past. I’ll no doubt write about him again in the future. I only wish his players were still around to write his whole story. I’ll bet you that most of them would also say they were helped to becoming better performers because of Eddie Dyer. All I know is – the more you read about the guy and study his record – and the more you examine the names of the players he managed – the more you may find yourself pulled to the same conclusion I also reached.

Eddie Dyer was a builder of better worlds – in baseball, in business, in life.

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5 Responses to “Eddie Dyer: A Man for All Seasons”

  1. David Munger Says:

    Dad said he was a pleasure to play for. A silent leader who
    could get tough if the need arose. The Cards were a big underdog to
    the Red Sox in ’46. You never know ’til you play The Series.

  2. Randy Says:

    Pitched a no-hitter against Baylor ????

  3. billjanoff Says:

    This man is inspiring. His success blessed him. Every man has blessed with any things. This man is blessed in his life with sports and business. I do hope he will be the inspiration to others whos hope is giong down especially in sports and business aspects..

  4. Pinchdatail Says:

    I’d like to add this picture to his Wikipedia page. I assume the copyright has expired? Do you know the year it was taken?

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