Saturday, August 1, 2020

#538 Chuck Dressen MG - Detroit Tigers

Charles Walter Dressen
Detroit Tigers

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'5"  Weight:  146
Born:  September 20, 1894, Decatur, IL
Acquired:  Traded by St. Paul (American Association) to the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later (Cliff Lee)
Major League Teams:  Cincinnati Reds 1925-1931; New York Giants 1933
As a Manager:  Cincinnati Reds 1934-1937; Brooklyn Dodgers 1951-1953; Washington Senators 1955-1957; Milwaukee Braves 1960-1961; Detroit Tigers 1963-1966
Died:  August 10, 1966, Detroit, MI (age 71)

As a player, Chuck Dressen played in parts of seven seasons with the Reds, serving as their regular third baseman between 1926 and 1929.  He led the N.L. in fielding percentage for third baseman in 1927 with a .967 mark.  Dressen wrapped up his big league playing career with 16 games for the Giants in 1933.  In 646 games, he hit .272 with 603 hits and 11 home runs.

As a manager, Dressen helmed teams in four different decades, including 16 years as a major league manager.  His first stint as a manager in the majors came with the Reds, and following that fairly unsuccessful beginning, he latched on with the Dodgers as their third base coach.  Dressen served as a coach with the Dodgers between 1939 and 1946, departing for the Yankees when he was poached from Brooklyn by Yankees' executive Larry MacPhail.  Following two years as a coach for the Yankees, Dressen returned to Brooklyn in 1951 as the team's manager.  He led the Dodgers to the World Series in 1952 and 1953, with his 1953 club winning 105 games.

Dressen resigned his position from the Dodgers following a contract dispute, and he'd go on to manage the Senators, Braves and Tigers between 1955 and 1966.  He'd briefly return to the Dodgers as a coach under manager Walt Alston (#217) in 1958 and 1959.  Dressen had a lifetime managerial record of 1,008-973 with his two pennant-winning years with the Dodgers serving as his high water mark.

Building the Set
May 11, 2020 from El Paso, TX - Card #96
As we closed in on the two-month social distancing mark during the coronavirus pandemic, I found myself once again browsing eBay.  I'm primarily a Phillies collector, and with no new products coming out, at least any that interested me, I once again turned to looking for cards for our 1965 Topps set.  Using the strategy I first considered when recently adding two League Leaders cards (#3 and #4), this time I decided to work my way backwards through the set.

I found and won the Al Downing (#598) card, the final card in the set, from Diamond Smiles, located in El Paso, Texas.  Not wanting Downing to travel alone from Texas, I also bid on two other 1965 Topps cards up for auction from the same seller, winning both of those too.  This Dressen card was mine for a winning bid of $2.05, and the card of Jack Kralick (#535) joined the padded envelope too.

I was first hesitant to populate our 1965 Topps set with cards impersonally acquired through eBay auctions, but who knows when we'll attend another baseball card show again?  And I like the idea of bidding on and winning cards from small dealers on eBay.  I'm keeping track of each of these purchases, and it would be cool to see how many different states I can "visit" through my auction wins.  My co-set builder, my son Doug, remains mildly interested in the few cards that arrived in padded envelopes for our set.  Like me, he's anxious for real live baseball to return.  And like me, he realizes that could be a while and the only thing we can do is wait and hope and stay positive.

The Card
I believe Dressen is one of two managers in the set to have been born in the 19th century, with Casey Stengel (#187), born in 1890, being the other.  Researching and writing this post, I realized I had never read Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer, which I plan to rectify.  Dressen apparently figures prominently in the narrative, and before finishing this post and scheduling it for publishing, I ordered the book.  As the quarantine could most likely continue throughout the summer, I should have plenty of time to read it.

This is Dressen's cupped hand around mouth, post-yelling pose, not to be confused with the cupped hand around mouth, yelling pose as demonstrated on his 1964 Topps card.  The text on the back of the card refers to Dressen's time managing the "old Dodgers."  That's like a 2020 Topps card referring to Charlie Manuel as having managed the old Phillies.  Maybe the term "old" is used since the Dodgers had moved from Brooklyn?

Tigers Team Set

1965 Season
Dressen suffered a heart attack during spring training and coach Bob Swift managed the club through their first 42 games.  Dressen returned at the end of May and guided the Tigers to a fourth place finish, with the club going 65-55 under his watch.  At the start of the 1966 season, Dressen had another heart attack and that combined with a kidney infection led to his passing on August 10th.

1940 Play Ball #72
1952 Bowman #188
1953 Topps #50
1961 Topps #137
1966 Topps #187
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1940 Play Ball #72
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (7):  1952-1953, 1960-1961, 1964-1966
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2004 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Classic #17

67 - Dressen non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 5/13/20.

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Previous Card:  #537 Angels Rookie Stars
Next Card:  #539 Herm Starrette - Baltimore Orioles


  1. I think Dressen played in the NFL in the 1920s. (I'll have to check my 1966 blog. Maybe I'm thinking of someone else.)

  2. Wikipedia says he was the Bears' QB in 1919-20.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Incredible - that's a pretty impressive athletic career!