Dazzy Vance didn't stick in the major leagues until his 30s, but he more than made up for lost time.
The premier strikeout pitcher of the 1920s with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Charles Arthur Vance led the National League in strikeouts for seven consecutive seasons from 1922 through 1928. In 1924, when he received the NL's League Award as MVP and beat out Rogers Hornsby and his .424 batting average, Vance had more strikeouts than the second- and third-place pitchers combined.
That year, he achieved the pitchers' Triple Crown — leading the league in wins (28), ERA (2.16) and strikeouts (262) — while throwing 30 complete games.
"Dazzy Vance could throw a cream puff through a battleship," said former Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Johnny Frederick.
He threw a no-hitter against Philadelphia in 1925, striking out nine and walking one.
At the end of his career, he was traded in 1933 to the St. Louis Cardinals " giving them a Dazzy and a Dizzy (Dean) in their rotation. In 1934, he started with Cincinnati but returned to St. Louis on waivers in time to be on the "Gashouse Gang" that won the World Series. His last year, at age 44, was as a reliever with Brooklyn in 1935.
He went 197-140 in his career, with a 3.24 ERA, 217 complete games and 2,045 strikeouts. In 1955, he was the first Brooklyn Dodger voted into the Hall of Fame.
Vance was born in Orient, Iowa, but his family moved to Nebraska when he was 6 to farm in Webster County. His nickname came from the saying, "Ain’t that a daisy," which Vance would pronounce "Dazzy."
Dazzy attended Hastings High School, where he was a three-sport athlete. Track (shot put and hammer) and football were his other sports before he graduated in 1911.
He played in the Nebraska State League for Superior, Red Cloud and Hastings before pro scouts spotted him. In 1914, Hastings sold his contract to St. Joseph (Missouri) of the Class A Western League. He made it to the majors in 1915 with Pittsburgh, went back to St. Joseph after one start and then finished the season back in the majors with three losses in as many starts for the New York Yankees.
A sore arm, the result of overtraining through boxing in the offseason in Hastings, kept him mostly in the minors — he got two appearances with the Yankees in 1918. It took a 21-11 season with New Orleans in the Southern League in 1921 — one source said he had emergency surgery before that season after re-injuring his arm on a poker table while raking in a pot — to get the majors interested again. He was part of a package deal to the Dodgers with his favorite catcher, Hank DeBerry, whom the ballclub wanted far more than Vance.
Dazzy Vance was 69 when he died of a heart attack in 1961 in Homosassa Springs, Florida.
Played for: Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Clarence Mitchell shares very similar south-central Nebraska roots, having been born 10 days earlier than Vance in Franklin and having grown up in Red Cloud. Vance replaced Mitchell in the Brooklyn rotation in 1922, but Mitchell -- a 125-game winner -- pitched in the National League until 1932.
Best moment as an athlete: Won the Triple Crown for pitchers in 1924, with 28 wins, a 2.16 ERA and 262 strikeouts and edged Rogers Hornsby for the most valuable player in the National League.
MLB: 197-140 record, 3.24 ERA, 217 CG, 2,045 K
Vance was No. 11 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »