Houston Fan Tagged Medwick with “Ducky”

Joe Medwick Had a "Ducky" Time in Houston Back in 1931-32.

Future Hall of Famer Joe Medwick was little more than a 19-year old kid when he arrived in Houston for his first season as an outfielder for the Houston Buffs back in 1931. Together with future Hall of Fame teammate Dizzy Dean, Medwick would help guide the young Buffs to the 1931 Texas League pennant in a 108-51 runaway sweep into first place and a full 14 game-lead finish over the second place Beaumont Exporters.

Medwick his .305 for the ’31 Buffs, leading the Texas League in home runs with 19 and runs batted in with 126. Even then, Medwick played with a turbocharged ferocity that sometimes spilled over into ferocious violence against friend and foe alike before it sank back into a face of sultry unhappiness with the world around him. – WIth a personality bordering on the anti-social at times, you have to be good to make up for it.

Medwick was. Good. To very good. To excellent. And finally to great. The stuff that fills the Baseball Hall of Fame. Medwick was.

As a teammate, you simply had to hope to do that unpredictable thing that would put you on Joe Medwick’s good side and out of harm’s way. The 1931 Buffs managed to get that done and come together for a great run, in spite of their disappointing loss in seven games to the Birmingham Barons in the 1931 Dixie Series.

Baseball historians Bill Weiss and Marshall Wright ranked the 1931 Buffs as the 42nd greatest minor league club of all time.


 Medwick remained with the Buffs in 1932, but the talent that Dizzy Dean took with him up to the Cardinals that same year left Houston to languish in 3rd place at 88-66 on the season. This descent cam about in spite of the fact that the 20-year old version Joe Medwick had now exploded against Texas League pitching, Medwick hit .354 with 26 home runs in 1932, but he lost the batting title to Ervin Fox of Beaumont at .357 and to Hank Greenberg of Beaumont and his 39 home runs.
Medwick wasn’t a cactus prick in the eyes of all Houston fans back in the day. The girls loved his rugged good looks and sometimes they even wrote of their various attractions in letters to Houston sportswriters. One such female fan even wrote a comment to Houston Post sportswriter Lloyd Gregory that would hang around Medwick’s neck for life.
After admitting her attractions to Medwick in the same tempered language of those times, this young lady mentioned that she had built her own special nickname for the Buffs hitting star because of the way he walks.
“I’ve watched Medwick coming in from the outfield until he slows from a trot to a walk near the dugout. Joe walks like a duck,” the young lady wrote to Gregory in words that I can only paraphrase here, “and because he walks like a duck, I’ve taken in own mind to calling him ‘Ducky.'”
“Ducky, eh?” Writer Gregory mulled the observation.
“Come to think about it,” Lloyd Gregory considered, “he does walk like a duck.”
At some risk to life and limb, Lloyd Gregory started making reference to the story and using the descriptive “Ducky Medwick” identity tag as a way of describing the young outfielder’s play in his “Looking ‘Em Over” column in the Houston Post.
The nickname stuck. By the time Joe “Ducky” Medwick ascended to St. Louis, he went there quacking all the way, eventually flying his way into history as a member of the Gashouse Gang in St. Louis and the Daffiness Boys in Brooklyn on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
After completing a 17-season MLB career (.324 BA, 205 HR) from 1933 to 1948, Ducky rejoined the Houston Buffs on the wind down the old career spiral staircase, hitting .276 with 2 homers in 35 games. I will always feel privileged that I came along in time to see Medwick play before he hung ’em up, even if there wasn’t much quack left in the bat back in 1948.
Joe Medwick was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968. He passed away in 1975 at the age of 63.

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One Response to “Houston Fan Tagged Medwick with “Ducky””

  1. Patrick Callahan Says:

    BILL: – nothing to do with baseball; Lloyd Gregory was very instrumental in getting the battleship TEXAS donated (not sure if that’s the correct terminology?) – or transferred to the State by the USN. Lloyd Gregory’s son Dr. Steve Gregory was my father’s Doctor. Small world – huh?

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