Baseball’s Ultimate Utility Players  — The Sporting Blog

Jimmie Dykes     

In 21 years 1918-1939 with the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox, Jimmie Dykes played only one position in three seasons: second base in 1921, and third base at Chicago in 1933 and 1936. The rest of his years he was the ultimate utility player, a career .280 hitter. In 1921 he led the AL in errors and assists at second base, and the next year did the same playing third.

In 1927 Dykes was Connie Mack’s bench. One morning in June Mack asked him if he had ever played first base. “Never saw a first baseman’s glove in my life,” said Dykes. Work out there in practice, Mack said. That afternoon Dykes was in the lineup at first base. He played 82 games there, finishing a triple play in one game, and filled in at every other position except catcher, even picking up a retroactive save in two pitching turns. Oh, and he hit 324.

Barney Friberg

August 24, 1925, was a typical day at Baker Bowl, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. After five innings of the first game of a doubleheader, the seventh-place Phillies had scored five runs, just below their average for the year. But the visiting Cardinals, scoring in every inning but the third, had racked three pitchers for a 12-5 lead (the Phillies would place third in runs scored in the NL, but give up more runs than anybody in either league).

Phillies’ second baseman Barney Friberg, bought from the Cubs on June 15 for the $7,500 waiver price, volunteered to take over the mound duties. Manager Art Fletcher agreed. Facing a lineup that included Ray Blades .342, Rogers Hornsby .403, and Jim Bottomley .367, Friberg relied on a straight fastball and dinky curve to shut them out for three innings before giving up two runs in the ninth. He struck out one, walked three and gave up four hits.

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