Cliff Dapper

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Clifford Roland Dapper

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Biographical Information[edit]

Cliff Dapper is most famous as the guy who was traded for an announcer, Ernie Harwell, but had an illustrious career in his own right. He hit an unbelievable .471 in 17 at-bats in 1942. He is the leader for the highest career major league batting average for players with 8+ hits. He also slugged .706, which is seventh all-time for players with 12+ total bases.

One might think the Brooklyn Dodgers were crazy to not keep him as a major leaguer. Not only did he hit .471, but he was a catcher who made no errors in the field. The Dodgers, although they won 104 games that year, had two catchers (Mickey Owen and Billy Sullivan) who both hit under .270 on a team that hit .264 as a whole. The Dodgers, however, had done this before. In 1935, they gave Vince Sherlock 26 at-bats, and he hit .462. He never played again in the majors.

Cliff played for Hollywood in 1940 and 1941 and Montreal in 1942 and 1948. In 1947, after he had a good season in Mobile, the Detroit Tigers tried to draft him from the Dodgers, but the Dodgers forestalled it by pointing out that they had already lost the limit of one player taken off their restricted list. He served in World War II from 1943-1945, and played a few baseball games with the Los Alamos Naval Air Station team. One newspaper said that after the war he had lost weight, lacked strength, and his aim was off. He was an All-Star for the Billings Mustangs, where he played in 1952. He holds a number of career batting records in the Pioneer League, where he played through 1954. His baseball career ended in 1957, including 7 seasons as a player/manager.

After his professional days, he coached a semi-pro team in the San Diego Municipal League, and also helped coach the Fallbrook High School team. Mike Port, who played on both teams and who became Vice President of Umpiring for Major League Baseball, credits Dapper and Duke Snider for helping him in his career.

In 1948, the Dodgers still had rights to Dapper, who was in Montreal, and they traded him to Atlanta in exchange for announcer Ernie Harwell. In 2002, Dapper and Harwell met for the first time when Dapper came to Detroit for an event in honor of Harwell's career, and presented Harwell with a videotape of various tributes to him. Most articles about the trade present Dapper as a little-known catcher, but as this biography shows, he had quite a career.

In October 1941, Dapper was the catcher for Joe Pirrone's All-Stars, who faced the Kent Parker's All-Stars team which included Ted Williams.

Babe Herman used to tell Dapper when he thought he was going to have a hot night, and he was typically right.

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1949 Atlanta Crackers Southern Association 71-82 5th
1951 Eugene Larks Far West League 4th Pittsburgh Pirates Replaced George Matile
1952 Billings Mustangs Pioneer League 73-59 3rd Pittsburgh Pirates Lost in 1st round
1953 Billings Mustangs Pioneer League 71-60 3rd Pittsburgh Pirates Lost in 1st round
1954 Billings Mustangs Pioneer League 76-56 2nd Pittsburgh Pirates Lost in 1st round
1955 Eugene Emeralds Northwest League 79-45 1st League Champs
1956 Eugene Emeralds Northwest League 63-67 4th Portland Beavers none
1957 Salt Lake City Bees Pioneer League 61-64 5th Philadelphia Phillies

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