The next Negro League legend we profile in my ongoing 1972 sub-set celebrating what would have been the 25th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut is Ray Dandridge, one of the game’s great third baseman:
Dandridge put in over 20 years of ball both here in the States and
abroad, playing almost ten years in Mexico in the 1940’s, and along the
way was a three-time all-star who had a lifetime Negro League batting
average of .355 according to some sources.
A part of what came to be named the “Million Dollar Infield”, he teamed
up with other all-time greats Dick Seay, Mule Suttles and Willie Wells
playing for the Newark Eagles during the 1930’s before leaving for
Mexico, and was considered one of the greatest fielders at his position
in Negro League history.
Sadly, by the time Major League baseball integrated in 1947, Dandridge,
who could still play as evidenced by his great seasons in Minor League
ball, including an MVP season in the American Association in 1950 and a
batting title when he hit .362 the year before, he never received a shot
at the “big time” because of his age.
Some say he easily could have been the player to integrate MLB since
Bill Veeck of the Cleveland Indians contacted Dandridge to come play in
the Indians’ organization. However, comfortable and well-paid playing in
Mexico, he decided it was a better situation for his family at the
After his playing days ended in 1955, he did accept work in the Major
Leagues as a scout, doing so for the New York Giants and was a mentor to
a young Willie Mays, before running a recreational center in Newark for
In 1987, he joined many former Negro League legends in Cooperstown when
he was elected by the Veteran’s Committee, securing his baseball legacy.