Lambert Dalton Meyer
(L.D., Little Dutch)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10½", Weight 181 lb.
- School Texas Christian University
- High School Waco (TX) High School
- Debut June 23, 1937
- Final Game September 22, 1946
- Born October 6, 1915 in Waco, TX USA
- Died January 19, 2003 in Fort Worth, TX USA
Lambert Dalton (Dutch) Meyer was a college football star who had several good years in the high minors and had one impressive year in the majors but struggled in the two other times he saw significant action in The Show.
He was the nephew of the famous Texas Christian University football coach Leo "Dutch" Meyer, who also coached TCU's baseball team at various times. He played football there in 1934, 1935, and 1936 where he was Sammy Baugh's favorite target. He caught a pass in the 1936 Sugar Bowl game where TCU bested LSU 3 to 2. He also kicked the winning field goal. The next year, in the first-ever Cotton Bowl, he scored all his team's points in a 16-6 win over Marquette.
1937-1940: Early pro career
Young Dutch took up a career in baseball upon graduating TCU and signed with the Knoxville Smokies, hitting .292 that year. On June 23, 1937, he made his first professional appearance when he became a pinch runner in a game for the Chicago Cubs. In 1939, Dutch batted .304 with 9 homers and 76 RBI's for Knoxville.
1940-1942: Buffalo and Detroit
The Detroit Tigers bought his contract in 1940, hoping that he would replace their aging longtime second baseman, baseball legend Charlie Gehringer. That year, Meyer hit .259/.317/.310 in 23 games for the Tigers.
The next year, Dutch failed to take over the spot when he hit a dismal .190/.230/.281. Demoted to the minors, Meyer had a splendid year for the Buffalo Bisons. He batted .305/~.359/.563 with 20 homers in 91 games and in 341 AB (This was one homerun less than team leader Mickey Rocco hit playing in 62 more games and 204 more AB). 45 of Dutch's 104 hits were for extra bases. Meyer had the best offensive season of any International League second baseman in terms of raw stats.
In 1942, Meyer split his time between Buffalo (.285/~.371/.471, 20 HR, 85 R, 89 RBI, three homers behind club leader Rocco) and Detroit (a very good .327/.386/.500 in 14 games). Unfortunately for Dutch, the Tigers had turned the second base job over to Jimmy Bloodworth.
1942-1945: Military service
After the baseball season ended in 1942, Dutch joined the Army Air Corps in November and served until April 1945.
1945-1946: End of the line in the majors
When he was discharged in 1945, he rejoined the Tigers who traded him along with Don Ross to the Cleveland Indians for Roy Cullenbine. That season, Dutch led the 1945 Indians in hits with 153. His batting line was .292/.342/.418.
In the low-scoring 1945 AL, Meyer finished 9th in batting average, and 8th in slugging. He was tied for 8th in hits. Dutch tied with long-time teammate Rocco for 8th in total bases (219), and Doc Cramer for 6th triples with 8.
Dutch was also tied for 8th in extra-base hits (44), and for 7th in doubles (29). His OPS+ was 124, an excellent figure for a second baseman.
With so many of the major players still in the military, the competition that year was weak. Still, Dutch had a great campaign.
In 1946, Dutch hit .232/.321/.285 in 72 games. He was still the primary second baseman, playing in 62 games and getting 207 AB, the most of any of the options the club employed. Ray Mack, who had returned from the war, played in 64 games and Jack Conway, another returning war vet, played in 50 games. None of these guys set the American League on fire, and all struggled at the plate. Meyer had the best average, OBP and slugging of the three as well as the best fielding percentage.
The arrival of Joe Gordon to play second in 1947 ended Dutch's career in the majors.
1947-1948: Back in AAA
At the close of Dutch's career in the majors, the Indians sent Meyer to Yankees as a player to be named later in an earlier deal for Eddie Bockman. The Yankees assigned him to their AAA farm team, the Newark Bears. There, he played in 22 games games. Later, he joined Buffalo for 70 more. Overall, he hit .273/.341/.427 in 92 games for Newark and Buffalo.
1949-1950: Lower minors
The '49 campaign found him with the Gladewater Bears in the class C East Texas League. He batted .329 with 21 home runs and drove in 131 runs. He tied for second in the league in circuit clouts and third in RBI.
In 1950, he returned to Gladewater, putting up a .375/.467/.566 line. He won the East Texas League batting title, was fifth with 114 runs, drove in 95 runs, hit 16 homers and only struck out 16 times in 111 AB. His .982 fielding percentage led all second basemen by 13 points. Additionally, he managed the team except for a spell from June 28 through July 6 when Hal Van Pelt was in charge; Gladewater won the title with a 92-45 record.
Meyer managed the class AA Dallas Eagles from 1951-54. In 1952 and 1953, Meyer managed teams that finished in first place. His team won the finals only in '53. In 1954, Meyer began the season as manager but on July 25, he quit. Les Fleming replaced him. Dallas finished last.
In 1955, Meyer joined the Tulsa Oilers as their new manager. Meyer got into a serious argument with Roger Maris. Maris was hitting a wretched .233 at the time (after 25 games) and was missing his cut-off man when throwing the ball in from Right. Meyer devised a series of drills to help his youthful right fielder, but Maris refused to do them, complaining that they could ruin his arm. For refusing, Meyer kicked Maris off the team. This action cost Dutch his job. He was fired on May 1st. Hank Schenz, formerly of the Sacramento Solons, replaced him.
Meyer had one last shot at managing in 1956. He took over control of the Fayetteville Highlanders of the class B Carolina League. He finished in 4th place with a 78-71 season. That was good enough for the playoffs where he led his team to the finals. Facing the Danville Leafs, his team bested them in four out of six games. Danville's star player was Leon Wagner who led the league in RBI (166) and homers (51). Willie McCovey played first for Danville.
After that season, there is no record of Meyer having managed again. After his baseball career, Meyer was an executive at a chemical company.
Meyer hit .264/.322/.367 in 286 games, producing a solid 94 OPS+. This is perfectly acceptable for a second baseman. His .977 fielding percentage was above average for a second baseman of the era.
He hit 141 home runs in the minor leagues, reaching 20 on five occasions. He drove in 95 or more four times. He won one minor league batting title and split one home run title, tying for second one time as well. He hit .300 five times. These marks are more impressive considering he only played 10 years in the minor leagues and was only a full-time minor leaguer in six years.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1950||Gladewater Bears||East Texas League||85-44||1st||Dallas Eagles||Lost in 1st round||Hal Van Pelt (7-1) managed June 28 to July 6|
|1951||Dallas Eagles||Texas League||85-75||3rd||Cleveland Indians||Lost in 1st round|
|1952||Dallas Eagles||Texas League||92-69||1st||Cleveland Indians||Lost in 1st round|
|1953||Dallas Eagles||Texas League||88-66||1st||none||League Champs|
|1954||Dallas Eagles||Texas League||47-63||none||replaced by Les Fleming (17-34) on July 24|
|1955||Tulsa Oilers||Texas League||7-17||--||Cleveland Indians||--||replaced by Joe Macko (3-0) on May 2|
|1956||Fayetteville Highlanders||Carolina League||78-71||4th||Cleveland Indians||League Champs|
|1957||Louisville Colonels||American Association||49-105||8th||none|