Ray Dandridge

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Professional Baseball Player

One of the greatest of the legendary Negro Leagues was Raymond “Hooks” Dandridge, a former resident of Buffalo. Sportswriters and fans called him “Hook” because he was a superb, surehanded infielder who seldom let a ball get by him. From 1933 to 1940, Dandridge played in the National Negro Leagues where he compiled a .355 career batting average. He started his career with the Detroit Stars, and then moved on to play with the Newark Dodgers, and New York Cubans, the Nashville Elite, and other teams. In the NNL, Dandridge played second base, shortstop, and third base with equal excellence. A stylist who could make any play, Dandridge was gifted with cat-like reflexes and a cannon arm. His dazzling play became commonplace, and today he is considered one of the best infielders of all time. Roy Campanella once said, “I saw all the greats, but I’ve never seen a better third baseman than Dandridge. He was fantastic.”

After the 1940 season, Dandridge moved on to the Mexican League where he became a player-manager. As a player, he continued his fine fielding while compiling a .343 career batting average. After nine seasons in Mexico, Dandridge joined the New York Giants organization. In 1950 he led their Minneapolis Club to the AAA Championship and was voted league’s Most Valuable Player. Though in the twilight of his career, Dandridge thought his play in Minneapolis might earn him a call to the majors, but it never came. Horace Stoneham, the owner of the Giants, refused to bring him to New York or sell him to another team, supposedly because of his popularity in Minnesota. Instead, a teammate, Willie Mays, got the call. Few people who saw him play doubt that Dandridge would have been a star in the majors.

In 1987, professional baseball bestowed its highest honor on Dandridge when it inducted him into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.