Ray Dandridge

Raymond Emmett Dandridge
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1987
Primary team: Newark Eagles
Primary position: 3rd Baseman

Ray Dandridge and Judy Johnson were probably the two best third basemen in the whole history of Negro league baseball. Born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1913, Dandridge was signed off a Buffalo, New York sandlot in 1933 by the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League, at the age of 19. He was a contact hitter who could hit to all fields, and a fancy fielder at third base who could also play shortstop, second base, and the outfield. At a 1988 Old Timer’s game, he commented to teammate Billy Williams that “Ozzie’s the onliest guy I’ve seen who’s got my style,” referring of course to the acrobatic Ozzie Smith.

Dandridge moved the following season to Newark, New Jersey, where he played for both the Dodgers and the Eagles. He also played for the New York Cubans and spent off seasons playing and managing in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. In 1949 he was named player-manager of the New York Cubans. Former player Lenny Pearson recalled that as a manager, “He wanted perfection. Complete perfection. That’s the way he played baseball.”

The Cubans sold him mid-year to the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association, a farm club for the major league New York Giants. Though he was 36 years old, and told the Giants that he was considerably younger, he was selected as the league’s Rookie of the Year. In 99 games for the Millers that year, he hit .362, with 144 hits including 33 extra base hits, and 64 runs batted in. The following season he was named league MVP, after leading the Millers to the championship, hitting .311 with 195 hits, 80 RBI, and 106 runs scored. Such numbers presumably would have earned a white player a promotion to the Giants, but his advanced age may have worked against him, and there are suggestions that an informal quota system kept him out of the show.

In 1951, the aging Dandridge briefly mentored 20-year-old teammate Willie Mays, who spent just 35 games at the highest level of the Giants organization before moving up. Dandridge and Mays sought relief from the summer heat at a cool movie theatre one afternoon, and the usher came and told Mays his manager wanted him back at the hotel—the call to the big leagues had come. Dandridge, who hit .324 that season, his third straight in the high minors, was not included in the call-up. “Dandridge didn’t get the chance to play in the majors, but he had major league talent. He was a superstar,” said Hall-of-Famer Monte Irvin

Statistics are incomplete and from official league games only. More information

Career stats

ESSENTIAL STATS
Year Inducted: 1987
Primary Team: Newark Eagles
Position Played: 3rd Baseman
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Richmond, Virginia
Birth year: 1913
Died: 1994, Palm Bay, Florida
Played for:
Detroit Stars (1933)
Newark Eagles (1934-1938)
Newark Eagles (1942)
Newark Eagles (1944)
CAREER AT A GLANCE
GamesG
NA
At BatsAB
691
RunsR
102
HitsH
214
Doubles2B
28
Triples3B
11
Home RunsHR
2
RBIRBI
38
Stolen BasesSB
13
WalksBB
20
Batting AverageBA
.310
OPSOPS
.720
On Base %OBP
.329
Slugging %SLG
.391