Kirby’s Dean Book – A Labor of Love

Jimmy Wynn and Dizzy Dean The Astrome, 1968 Dean Signing for The Young Toy Cannon

Jimmy Wynn and Dizzy Dean
The Astrodome, 1968
Dean Signing for The Young Toy Cannon


“Dizzy – Dean of Baseball and My Podnah” by the late broadcaster Gene Kirby is a nice anecdotal reiteration of much we already know about the great Hall of Fame pitcher, broadcaster and general character that was Dizzy Dean. It does clarify that Dizzy was born by the legal name of Jay Hanna Dean on January 16, 1910 in Lucas, Arkansas – even showing a nice photo of the ramble-down house of his childhood there. And it also clarifies that Dizzy Dean and his wife Pat Dean were not married at home plate in Buff Stadium in 1931, as the legend persists, but that they were married at the First Christian Church in Houston.

It also explains that the Jay Dean’s “Dizzy” nickname came from his teenage Army service days at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio under his  unit superior and camp baseball coach, 1st Sgt. James K. “Jimmy” Brought, who fell into the habit shouting “Dizzy” at young Dean for some of the frustrating things he did on the mound during a game.  Sgt. Jimmy supposedly shouted at one point: “You dizzy S.O.B.! If this .45 pistol of mine was loaded with live ammo, I’d shoot you in the ass 45 times even if you are the best damn pitcher on the team!”  The nickname apparently stuck. At least, the author says it did. The most common story behind the nickname is that it came about later in a spring exhibition game between the Houston Buffs and Chicago White Sox in either 1930 or 1931. In that version, the White Sox bench started calling Dean “Dizzy” for his wildness during the game. Take your pick on these two etiologies of the nickname “Dizzy” or hook all you questions into all the research sources that are available and try to find the certain answer prior to the crack of doom.

Page 38-39 offers a nice sequential picture photo layout of Dean’s pitching delivery. It’s a great thing to see – as are so are so many of other photos in the 165 page work. If you are a  Dizzy Dean fan, or researcher, this is definitely  a book you will want to add to your library. Expect little to no detail on Dean’s family relations, his time in Houston with the Buffs, his time with the Gashouse Gang in the 1934 World Series, his 1937 All Star Game injury, or his problem with St. Louis educators over his broadcast language style in the 1940s. The book is anecdotal and pictorial – not analytical.

The book also is a labor of love. Although Gene Kirby, a longtime Dean broadcasting associate, is listed as the author, the book was actually put together from the draft and notes he had completed prior to his death at age 95 in 2011. Kirby’s son Glenn Kirby had stepped into help his aging father finish the Dean book, but he then died in a car accident shortly thereafter – and in the time even before his own father’s passing. That had to be really tough on the aging Gene Kirby.

But here came the daughter of the late Gene Kirby to the rescue.

Sarah Kirby Burke picked up the work of her fallen father and brother and fished the book herself. In The Pecan Park Eagle’s opinion, Sarah Kirby Burke is the real hero of this fine-for-its-purpose book that finally reached publication in 2016.

Sarah Kirby Burke, we salute you – all of you – your love, your loyalty, your labor, and your literacy! – Thanks for a nice addition to the Library of Baseball History.


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle


2 Responses to “Kirby’s Dean Book – A Labor of Love”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    I first encountered Dizzy Dean on the Saturday and Sunday television baseball broadcasts of Game of the Week in the late 1950s that he called along with partner Buddy Blattner.

  2. gregclucas Says:

    You realize fans where major league baseball was NOT played were the only ones who got to see the Game of the Week for a long time. The telecasts were not aired to protect the gates for MLB teams. Since almost everyone played games on Saturday afternoons that mean no Game of the Week telecast was available.

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