3B-2B-SS Negro Leagues 1933-49 Detroit Stars, Newark Dodgers, Newark Eagles, New York Cubans
Ray Dandridge was a masterful third baseman, a stylist who could make all the plays.
He was smooth and relaxed, with soft hands, a strong arm, and the versatility to
excel at any infield position. "People would pay their way in to the game just to
see him field," claimed Monte Irvin. Roy Campanella said, "I never saw anyone better
as a fielder." Hoyt Wilhelm, who played against Dandridge in Cuba and with him in
Minneapolis (American Association), asserted, "No matter how the ball was hit, he
always made the throw so that he just did get the man at first." Others observed
that a train could go through Dandridge's bowlegs, but that a baseball never did.
started his pro career with the 1933 Detroit Stars and moved to the Negro National
League's Newark Eagles, for whom he starred throughout the remainder of the 1930s.
A spray hitter with good bat control, he seldom struck out, and skillfully executed
the hit-and-run. In 1935, he hit .368. Looking for more money in 1939, he opted to
play in Latin America. He went to Mexico in 1940, and spent most of the decade there.
When he came back for a year in Newark in 1944, he batted .370, leading the NNL in
hits, runs, and total bases. In 1945 he set a Mexican League record for hitting
safely in the most consecutive games and managed his team to a pennant. In nine Mexican
League seasons, he compiled a .343 average. Following the 1948 season, he returned
to the States as player-manager of the New York Cubans.
During his time in the
NNL, Dandridge registered a lifetime .355 average, and played in three East-West
all-star games, hitting .545. He played winter ball in Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto
Rico, and Cuba; in 11 seasons of Cuban Winter League action, he batted .282.
after Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Bill Veeck contacted Dandridge
about playing with the Cleveland Indians, but Dandridge refused to leave Mexico without
a bonus. Later, in 1949, at age thirty-five, he was signed by the New York Giants
and assigned to their Triple-A farm club at Minneapolis. He batted .363 his first
year there, and won the league's MVP award in 1950, when he led Minneapolis to the
league championship. Despite his achievements, the Giants would not promote him to
the parent club.
While at Minneapolis, Dandridge provided advice and assistance
to a young Willie Mays, who never forgot the help or the man. Returning to Cooperstown
for Dandridge's induction into the Hall of Fame (he was elected by the Committee
on Baseball Veterans in 1987), Mays stated, "Ray Dandridge helped me tremendously
when I came through Minneapolis. Sometimes you just can't overlook those things.
Ray was a part of me when I was coming along."