Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sully Baseball Salutes Cliff Dapper

In my post for Ernie Harwell that I wrote earlier this week, I brought up the fact that Harwell's broadcasting contract was traded to the Dodgers for backup catcher Cliff Dapper.

I made a little joke about how Dapper never made it back to the show.
But there are no idle thoughts on the internet and I wanted to see Dapper's stats in the big leagues.

So naturally I looked up his page on Baseball Reference, the greatest website in the world.

The guy played in 8 big league games for the Dodgers in 1942. He got 8 hits including a homer and a double. He drove in 9 runs in those 8 games and batted .471 with an OPS of 1.232.

He was supposed to fill in for Mickey Owen and was ultimately sent down to the minors.

He was 22 years old in 1942 and most fit 22 year old men didn't stick around Brooklyn then. He served three years in the Pacific Theater and made back alive.

He never played in the bigs again. He made it all the way to Montreal, the Dodgers top farm club, when his contract was traded to the Atlanta Crackers minor league team in exchange for their announcer Ernie Harwell.

What an 8 games those were. It's hard to believe that with so many top players enlisting into the service that year that Dodgers manager Leo Durocher couldn't find a little bit of playing time for a kid who came out of the gate swinging.

Alas, he didn't.
But any man who made the best of his big league cup of coffee and went on to defend our country and then be traded for a Hall of Famer is worth at least a salute on line.

Somewhere Cliff Dapper is still alive. If any of you know him, drop me an e mail at

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    ( 2 January 1920 – 8 February 2011 )

    He was a former Major League Baseball catcher who played briefly for the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1942 season.

    Listed at 6' 2", 190 lbs., he batted and threw right handed.

    Born in Los Angeles, California, Dapper began his baseball career at age 18 for Class-B Bellingham Chinooks in the Western International League.

    With many players unavailable due to World War II, Dapper got his shot at the major leagues in April 1942, appearing in eight games for Brooklyn.

    He connected for eight hits in 17 at-bats for a .471 batting average, including a home run, one double, two runs and nine runs batted in.

    Despite his hot hitting, Dapper was unable to dislodge their All-Star regular, Mickey Owen, from the catcher's position for the Dodgers, and was soon returned to the minors.

    Later that season he was drafted, missing the 1943-1945 seasons while serving in the South Pacific during.

    Following his military discharge, Dapper returned to baseball as a player and then manager, helming two Pittsburgh Pirates farm clubs in Eugene, Oregon, and Billings, Montana, all while still an active player.

    He eventually played 1,623 minor-league games over a twenty-year span, hitting .274 and 102 homers before retiring in 1957, the same year that his former team, the Dodgers, would move to his home town of Los Angeles.

    Following his baseball career, Dapper settled in Fallbrook, California, where he bought a large ranch along with former Dodgers teammate Duke Snider where they made a substantial living farming avocados and lemons on 60 acres.

    Dapper died at his home of Fallbrook, California, on Tuesday 8 February 2011 at the age of 91.

    Dapper held the unique distinction of being traded for an announcer.

    In 1948, Dapper, then with the Dodgers' top farm club, the Montreal Royals, of the International League, was sent to the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association in exchange for announcer Ernie Harwell, so that he could then substitute for ailing Dodger broadcaster Red Barber.

    Dapper batted .280 for the Crackers and took over as the club's manager.

    Harwell left the Dodgers after the 1949 season and was replaced by Vin Scully going on to a Hall of Fame career as a broadcaster, mostly for the Detroit Tigers.

    Harwell and Dapper would not meet for over half a century, when Dapper came to Comerica Park on 15 September 2002, when Harwell's statue was unveiled.

    COLONEL 77

  2. Anonymous10:03 PM

    What a great man.

    He passed away last Year. Miss Ya, Buddy