September 24, 1910|
Villa Rica, Georgia
|Died: May 17, 1982
|April 28, 1931, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 22, 1949, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Runs batted in||1,023|
|Career highlights and awards|
Fred E. "Dixie" Walker (September 24, 1910 – May 17, 1982) was an outfielder, primarily a right fielder, in Major League Baseball, playing for the New York Yankees (1931, 1933–36), Chicago White Sox (1936–37), Detroit Tigers (1938–39), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939–47) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1948–49). In 11 years in the National League, Walker posted a .310 batting average (in nine seasons in the American League, an average of .295), with 105 total home runs and 1,023 RBIs in 1,905 games.
Walker's popularity with the Ebbets Field fans in the 1940s brought him the nickname "The People's Cherce" (so-called, and spelled, because "Choice" in the "Brooklynese" of the mid-20th century frequently was pronounced that way). He was an All-Star in five consecutive years (1943–47) and the 1944 National League batting champion. Walker may be best known for his reluctance to play on the same team as Jackie Robinson in 1947.
Born on September 24, 1910, in Villa Rica, Georgia, Walker was the scion of a baseball family. His father, Ewart Walker (the original "Dixie Walker"), was a pitcher for the Washington Senators (1909–12); an uncle, Ernie Walker, was an outfielder for the St. Louis Browns (1913–15); and his younger brother, Harry "the Hat" Walker, also an outfielder, played for four National League teams between 1940 and 1955 and managed the St. Louis Cardinals (1955), Pittsburgh Pirates (1965–67) and Houston Astros (1968–72). All four Walkers batted left-handed and threw right-handed.
Walker originally entered the major leagues with the New York Yankees, and was considered the heir to Babe Ruth as the team's left fielder after playing with the Yankees in 1931, and again from 1933 to 1936.
After stints with the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, Walker blossomed into a star with the Brooklyn Dodgers, with whom he played from 1939 to 1947. He was a five time All Star, being selected in every year from 1943 to 1947. In addition, he was the National League's batting champion in 1944, with his average of .357 besting runner up Stan Musial's .347. In addition, Walker was the 1945 National League runs batted in champion, with his total of 124 topping teammate Tommy Holmes' 117.
Walker vocally opposed the participation of black baseball players regardless of their skill. He suggested he would not play for the Dodgers if a black baseball player were permitted on the team.
After the 1947 season, Walker was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he played two seasons before retiring in 1949.
The Pirates released Walker after the 1949 season, and he began a managing and coaching career as manager of the minor league Atlanta Crackers. In his first year as manager, they won the Southern Association pennant. He then led them to finishes of sixth and second.
Walker coached with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953, but left partway through the season to manage the Cardinals' Houston team in the Texas League. He managed Houston through 1954, after which he managed in the International League, first with the Rochester Red Wings (1955-1956), and then with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1957 to 1959).
The Milwaukee Braves made Walker a scout, and he worked in this position until 1963, when he joined the team's coaching staff. When the Braves relocated to Atlanta in 1966, Walker was their chief scout for the Southeastern United States.
In 1968 Walker joined the Dodgers as hitting coach, and he held this position until 1974. From 1974 to 1976 he was a coach for the Dodgers' minor league system.
In his 2002 book The Era, Roger Kahn wrote that Walker admitted to starting a Dodgers' player petition in 1947, in which the signers opposed the integration of baseball. In an interview with Kahn, Walker stated that he had nothing against Robinson specifically or African-Americans generally, but that he had been warned that his Birmingham business interests would suffer if he played baseball with black men. According to Kahn, Walker referred to the petition and his request to be traded from the Dodgers after the 1947 season as "the stupidest thing he’d ever done". In addition, Walker asked that if Kahn ever had the opportunity, Kahn write that Walker was sorry and apologized for his actions.
In 1936 Walker married Estelle Shea. They were the parents of daughters Mary Ann and Susan, and sons Stephen, Fred Jr., and Sean.
(quote) Brother of Ernie Walker, Father of Dixie Walker and Father of Harry Walker
(quote) Bats: Left, Throws: Right" and "Team: Browns 1913-1915
(quote) Bats: Left, Throws: Right" and "Teams (by GP): Cardinals/Phillies/Reds/Cubs 1940-1955