Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jim Dyck: There's no 'I' in Dyck, but there are players a lot like him

[Author's note: I will do my best to refrain from making weiner jokes. Those have been made here plenty in the past. Feel free to make your own, though.]

Jim Dyck's story is a familiar one, not only with respect to baseball, but also to men of nearly all nations who came of age in the middle third of the 20th Century: A raging inferno of international lunacy drew men from all countries and interrupted their goals and ambitions. Those who escaped with their lives returned home and did their best to find normality.

But what makes Dyck's story so familiar is that it is nearly identical to a previous GNIB entry, Hank 'Bow Wow' Arft. Observe:

- Arft (1/28/22) and Dyck (2/3/22) were born six days apart.
- Both players had been promising young players from the middle of the country (Arft was from suburban St. Louis; Dyck came from Omaha).
- Both served served in the Navy during World War II (Arft served on a destroyer escort; Dyck was a naval pilot).
- And both debuted in their late twenties with the St. Louis Browns (Arft in 1948 at 26, Dyck in 1951 at 29).

In fact, there is very little that separates them statistically. Look at their career numbers:

Arft: .253/.352/.375, 300 G, 1056 PA, 13 HR, 114 RBI, 137 BB, 133 K
Dyck: .246/.339/.389, 330 G, 1134 PA, 26 HR, 116 RBI, 131 BB, 140K

While it's true that neither player's numbers are truly remarkable, the only discernible statistical difference is that Dyck hit a few more home runs and walked a little less (but not significantly so).

The two men's careers barely overlapped, though. Arft was relegated to the bench during Dyck's first couple seasons and was released when Dyck was one of the most important members of the '52 Browns squad. As the Browns' starting third baseman, he was second on the team that year in home runs and RBI.

Dyck was largely washed-up after 1953, though he played a few games with the Cleveland Indians in 1954 before finding his way to the St. Louis Browns' new digs in Baltimore with the 1955 Orioles club. He was out of the big leagues by 1956 and had retired from minor-league ball in 1961 after putting up respectable numbers.

In another parallel with Hank Arft, Dyck went into business for himself after retiring. However, Dyck founded his own bowling alley instead of opening a mortuary as Arft had. Naturally, the two men died only three years apart, with Dyck succumbing to cancer in 1999.

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