I recently read "The Gashouse Gang" by John Heidenry.This book chronicles the 1934 St Louis Cardinals,one of the most colorful in sports history.With the likes of "Dizzy" Dean,his brother Paul,Leo Durocher,Pepper Martin,Joe Medwick,and Branch Rickey running the show at GM,the Cardinals put on quite an improbable season,on their way to a World Series championship.
This book tells of how The Great Deppresion crippled the nation as well as baseball in that dark time.It also tells of how the players came to the Cardinals through Branch Rickey.Many stange things occured in order for the redbirds to take home the Pennant as well as the series.
Dizzy had several contract disputes,and was a cocky guy,and led this improbable club.He feuded with Rickey,his manager Frank Frisch,and Cardinals ownership all season,being suspended and fined several times.He also refused a fine and left the club,dragging the not so obnoxious,bashful,Paul Dean,with him.
Dizzy still had one of the best seasons a pitcherhas had to date that season.Him and Paul or "Me 'n Paul" as he reffered to himself and Paul,carried the underperforming Cardinals staff by themselves virtually.At the beggining of the season Dizzy predicted that he and Paul would win 45 games,and they went out there together and won 49,30 for Dizzy and 19 for Paul.Bill Hallahan,an old Dazzy Vance,and Tex Carelton were not quite aces.Quite the character,Dizzy was quite the catalyst for the team.
There were many strange untruthful stories,with some that were just as unbelieveable,being true.His name change for instance,his place of birth,and other things as well.Altogether the Pennant was unwinnable for the Cards without him.
Rickey had quite the experience,playing through college and coaching and playing at various levels of Baseball and Football.He was the manager for several years before this particular season but was replaced and sent to the front office by Owner Breadon.It was one of the best decisions in Cardinal history.
From the hot headed Joe medwick,to the slick fielding but bad hitter and good student of the game.Leo Durocher,the intriguing Pepper Martin,these characters made quite a story.They were not favorites to win the Pennant,that distinction would go to the New York Giants,and Chicago Cubs.But the Cardinals battled behind valiently in several odd situations through the year.The Giants player-manager's(Bill Terry) own words may have came to bite him in the butt as they lost the race in the last series of the season.He had ticked off at the start of the season, the Brooklyn fans by saying quote"Is there a team in Brooklyn?" which infuriated Dodgers fans,and inspired them to root on their team,and help the fired up Dodgers sweep the Giants in the last series of the season,to enable the Cards to take the flag.
The World Series was quite interesting as well,with bad umpiring,tempers flaring,much fan support and poor sportsmanship,and some good and unpredictable games.
The term "Gashouse Gang" can't be identified exactly as it were odd,and the origin was somewhat in the air.
So in conclusion,a bunch of colorful players,Front office magic,and maybe some actually Magic enabled the 1934 St Louis Cardinals to go down in the annals of baseball as a strange and magnificent team.