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William "Dizzy" Dismukes

William Dismukes
Nickname: Dizzy

Career: 1910-1930 (player), 1931-1951 (manager)
Positions: p, manager, officer
Teams: West Baden Sprudels (1910-1913), St. Louis Giants (1912), Philadelphia Giants (1913), Brooklyn Royal Giants (1913-1914), Lincoln Stars (1914-1915), Indianapolis ABCs (1914-1918, 1920-1924), French Lick Plutos (1916), Mohawk Giants, Chicago American Giants (1916), military service (1917-1918), Dayton Marcos (1918-1919), Pittsburgh Keystones (1921-1923), Birmingham Black Barons (1924, 1938), Memphis Red Sox (1925, 1942), St. Louis Stars (1926-1929, 1936-1937); Chicago American Giants (1930, 1935), Cincinnati Dismukes, Detroit Wolves (1932), Columbus Blue Birds (1933-1934), Atlanta Black Crackers (1939), Homestead Grays (1940), Kansas City Monarchs (1941-1951)
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Born: March 15, 1890, Birmingham, Alabama
Died: June 30, 1961, Campbell, Ohio

A right-handed submariner, he was regarded as one of the best pitchers in black baseball during the 1910s and early 1920s. A college man, he was a smart, studious player with a wonderful memory and was a strategist. He knew a batter's tendencies and would almost unerringly position his infielders where the batter would hit according to the pitches he was throwing. He had a variety of breaking pitches and was considered by some to be a "trick pitcher" because of the way his breaking balls moved. He was credited with teaching Webster McDonald and Carl Mays the tricks of the submarine-style of pitching.

He began pitching with lesser teams, progressing from the Imperials of East St. Louis, Illinois, in 1908 to the Kentucky Unions in 1909 to the Minnesota Keystones early in 1910, before joining the West Baden Sprudels later in the season, when many of the future Indianapolis ABCs were also getting their professional careers under way under manager C.I. Taylor. Dismukes pitched intermittently with Taylor's teams over the next decade. Taking time for stints with other ballclubs before settling in Indianapolis with Taylor's ABCs for many years. He was with the St. Louis Giants in 1912 before traveling East to join the Philadelphia Giants the next year. In 1914, while pitching for the eastern champion Brooklyn Royal Giants, he pitched three of the four games in the playoffs in a valiant losing effort against the Chicago American Giants.

He began the 1915 season with the Lincoln Stars but signed with the ABCs in late April. The next two years were the best ever in the history of the ABCs. With Dismukes contributing a 19-5 record, the team contended for the title before losing in a close battle with the Chicago American Giants. The following year they struggled at the onset of the season but finally overcame the adversity caused by a schism at the management level and finished strong to defeat the Chicago American Giants for the western championship. Dismukes had another outstanding season, posting a 17-6 ledger. After the showdown with the Chicago American Giants, he pitched with the French Lick Plutos in September, but returned to the ABCs the next season, with incomplete records showing only a 4-6 work sheet for the 1917 season. His baseball career was interrupted briefly while he served with the 803rd Pioneer Infantry during World War I. After leaving the ABCs to assume the role as playing manager of the Dayton Marcos in 1919, he returned after a season and, when the ABCs entered the Negro National League in 1920, he registered an 11-6 league ledger.

He continued in Indianapolis until shortly after the death of manager C.I. Taylor, and returned for a part of the 1924 season as a playing manager. Leaving during the season, he pitched with Birmingham, Memphis, and St. Louis to finish out the decade of the 1920s. Pitching records show seasons of 6-4 and 3-8 (or 1923-1924, and the batting marks confirm his anemic hitting, which plagued him throughout his playing career.

In 1930. after a change in ownership of the Chicago American Giants following the death of Rube Foster, Dismukes took the helm of the team. He was a kindly man and, as a coach and manager, he was proficient at imparting inside baseball to young players. During the 1930s and 1940s he entered into the management-end of baseball, also managing with Detroit (1932), Birmingham (1938), Memphis (1942), and Kansas City (1941-1942) at various times.

He moved from the dugout to the front office and was traveling secretary with the Monarchs for many years, and was the personnel director for the team for over a decade, from 1942 to 1952. In this capacity he was instrumental in acquiring Jackie Robinson to play with the Monarchs in 1945. He recognized Robinson's deficiency at shortstop and asked Cool Papa Bell to convince Robinson that this was not his best position. Dismukes also served as secretary for the Negro National League during his many years in black baseball. After the color line was removed, he scouted two years for the New York Yankees (1953-1954) and the Chicago White Sox (1955-1956).

Dismukes toiled on the mound for almost a score of teams and spent forty years in black baseball, almost evenly split between the playing field and the management level. He retired as an active player after twenty years in the pitcher's box prior to becoming a prominent coach, manager, business manager, club officer, and league officer for an additional twenty years.

Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.