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Dizzy Dean Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-29523).

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Dean, Dizzy (16 January 1910–17 July 1974), baseball player, coach, and broadcaster, was born Jay Hanna Dean in Lucas, Arkansas, the son of Albert Dean and Alma Nelson, both migrant workers. “Dizzy,” a nickname he acquired from his zany antics, had a younger brother, Paul, who also pitched in the major leagues. There has been some uncertainty about Dean’s birthdate, birthplace, and baptismal name. According to Dean, the biographical confusion might stem from the fact that he liked to give every reporter a scoop. Dean said his other name, Jerome Herman, was adopted when he was seven years old. A playmate by that name died, and to console the boy’s father, Dean said that he would take the youth’s name as his own....

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Garagiola, Joe (12 Feb. 1926–23 March 2016), baseball player, broadcaster, and television personality, was born Joseph Henry Garagiola in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Giovanni Garagiola, a brickyard worker, and his wife, Angelica, both Italian immigrants from near Milan. He grew up in the Italian neighborhood known as “the Hill,” across the street from his lifelong friend and baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi Berra. As the quintessential storyteller Garagiola told it, “Not only was I not the best catcher in the major leagues, I was not the best catcher on my street!” (...

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Heilmann, Harry Edwin (03 August 1894–09 July 1951), baseball player and announcer, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Richard Heilmann, a German-immigrant ironworker, and Mary McVeigh. Raised in the Roman Catholic faith, Heilmann attended parochial schools until 1911, when he dropped out of Sacred Heart College, the preparatory school for St. Mary’s College of California, after flunking mathematics and failing to make the varsity baseball team. While working as a bookkeeper for the National Biscuit Company, Heilmann started playing baseball for a semiprofessional club at Hanford, California. He was signed by a scout for Portland Oregon, in the Northwest League, where he showed a great deal of professional promise as an outfielder-first baseman. At the end of the 1913 season the Detroit Tigers of the American League (AL) purchased his contract. Paid $2,100 for the 1914 season, Heilmann appeared in 66 games and batted only .225. When he turned down the same amount in 1915, Detroit assigned him to San Francisco in the Pacific Coast League, where he batted a lusty .364....

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Kiner, Ralph (27 Oct. 1922–6 Feb. 2014), baseball player and broadcaster, was born Ralph McPherran Kiner in Santa Rita, New Mexico, the son of Ralph Maclin Kiner, a baker, and Beatrice Grayson Kiner, a nurse. When his father died four years later, his mother moved the family to Alhambra, California, where Ralph played baseball at Alhambra High School and attracted attention from New York Yankee and Pittsburgh Pirate scouts. The Pirates convinced him he had a better chance of success with them than with the talented and deep Yankees and signed him with a $3,000 bonus, with which he paid off his mother’s mortgage....

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Lindstrom, Freddy (21 November 1905–04 October 1981), baseball player, manager, announcer, and coach, was born Frederick Anthony Lindstrom in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Frederick Lindstrom, a plumbing contractor, and Mary Sweeney. (His middle name was changed to Charles later on.) At Tilden High School and then at Loyola Academy, Lindstrom starred as an infielder and batter. In 1922 ...

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Rizzuto, Phil (25 September 1917–13 August 2007), baseball player and broadcaster, was born Fiero Francis Rizzuto (he later legally changed his first name to Philip) in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Brooklyn natives Fiore, a trolley conductor, and Rose Angotti Rizzuto. The family, New York to the core, moved to Queens when Phil was twelve. A star baseball player at Richmond Hill High School, Phil tried out with the local Giants and Dodgers, his favorite team, at sixteen but failed to make an impression. The other New York team, the Yankees, signed him in 1936 and he began to work his way up through the Yankee farm system, spending a year at Bassett, Virginia, in 1937, moving to Norfolk in 1938, and then Kansas City in 1939 and 1940. At each stop in this journey he batted over .300. In Kansas City he also picked up his lifetime nickname, “Scooter,” as teammate Billy Hitchcock, observing the speedy but short-legged Rizzuto's running style, told him that he did not run, he scooted. He was named the top minor league player in baseball that final year in Kansas City....