(Dazzy Vance rates this story. Hey, I named the blog after him.)
By Glen Sparks
Dazzy Vance was near the end of his career. He had spent much of the 1920s as one of the best pitchers in baseball. The 6-foot-2-inch right-hander for the Brooklyn Dodgers took home the National League MVP in 1924 and finished fifth in the voting in 1925. Vance led the league in strikeouts from 1922-28, topping out at 262 in ’24.
Now, it was 1934, though. The future Hall of Famer had lost some of the zip on his fastball and break on his curveball. The Dodgers let him go following a 12-11 year in 1932. Picked up by the Cardinals, he went 6-2 for St. Louis in 1933. On this day in 1934, the Cincinnati Reds purchased Vance’s contract from the Cardinals for $7,500.
The 43-year-old hurler pitched just six games for the Reds and made only two starts. He went 0-2 with a glum 7.50 ERA in 18 innings of work. He gave up 28 hits and 11 walks to go with nine strikeouts.
Not surprisingly, the Reds were unimpressed. They sent Vance back to the Cardinals later on in ’34. He actually pitched fairly well with the Redbirds, a 3.66 ERA in 59 innings, mostly in relief, to go with a 1-1 won-loss record. St. Louis won the World Series that season, and Vance pitched 1 1/3 innings in Game 4 against the Detroit Tigers, giving up one unearned run.
Vance pitched one more season in the big leagues before retiring. He spent the 1935 season back in Brooklyn where he had enjoyed most of his success. He compiled a 3-2 record with a 4.41 ERA in 51 innings as a 44-year-old.
In 1955, the writers elected Vance into the Hall of Fame with 81.7 percent of the vote. He had led the N.L. in ERA three times, wins twice and finished197-140 lifetime.