His name was Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean
Posted on: October 14,2013
We had a visitor from St. Louis to your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum today who was was quite interested in the Dizzy Dean collection, which is housed on our second floor and came to us from the old Dizzy Dean Museum.
Our visitor was perplexed when he saw a plaque that read: “Jerome Herman Dean.”
“Who is Jerome Herman Dean?” the visitor wanted to know. “I’ve always known Dizzy as Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean.”
Well that’s a story worth retelling for those who don’t know.
Dean was born — we think — on Dec. 10, 1910, in Lucas, Ark. His parents named him Jay Hannah Dean — Jay for Jay Gould, a 19th century railroad magnate, and Hanna for Mark Hanna, an Ohio political figure of the same era. That we know.
But Dean confused sports writers later on by adopting, unofficially and on occasion, the name Jerome Herman, the name of a former childhood playmate who died when Dizzy was only seven.
Dean added to the confusion shortly after joining the St. Louis Cardinals by telling three different sports writers three different birthdates and three different locations where he was born. All this, he did in a matter of hours.
When asked about why he kept making up stories, Dean explained, “I was helping the writers out….Them ain’t lies, them’s scoops.”
Our Dizzy Dean collection was bequeathed to the City of Jackson by Dizzy’s widow, the late Pat Dean, and became part your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum when it opened on July 4, 1996.
Sara & I were at the museum yesterday also. We heard the guy asking about Dizzy’s real name. Missed you at the Duff Dorrough Scholarship benefit Sunday evening at Hal & Mal’s. The music was great. You must have been out out of town. 🙂
Used to watch Diz & Pee Wee on the “CBS Game of the Week” during the late ’50s and ’60s and was never bored listening to Ole Diz broadcast a game. He used words like “podna,” “slud” and catch phrases such as “he’s got a beat on it;” “he slud into second; picked himself up and headed for third;” and “that ball was tagged.”
During rain delays, Diz would even do his own rendition of “The Wabash Cannonball.” And sometimes you might even catch him snoring during a national telecast. His stories about himself and the other old timers like Frankie Frisch, Luke Appling and the old “Gas House Gang” in St. Louis were indeed legendary.”
And as college football season approached, ole Diz would always give his favorite team, the Ole Miss Rebels, a plug or two, letting Pee Wee know exactly how bad the Rebels were going to beat up on Kentucky, who Reese followed religiously.
He was a great Mississippian and a great man who lived during the greatest of times in the Magnolia State. Dizzy Dean was the perfect goodwill ambassador for his favorite state, baseball and the human race. Wish he were still around!