1939 would see Dickson graduate to the “A1” level Texas League Houston Buffaloes, going 22-15, 3.25. He also saw his first major league action, allowing one hit over 3.2 innings of relief on September 30th as the Cards dropped game two of a doubleheader to the Chicago Cubs, 5-1. In spite of his strong showing, he opened the 1940 campaign in “AA” ball, with the American Association Columbus Red Birds, going 17-8, 3.33. He didn’t do as well in his second major league showing, allowing all four Philadelphia Phillies runs in 1.2 innings of an 8-4 victory on May 9th.
Dickson rejoined Columbus for more seasoning in 1941, going 21-11, 3.30 in his last minor league appearance. He spent five of the next seven seasons with the Cardinals (with a two year break for military service), posting a total of 44 wins against 43 losses with a 3.37 ERA. The Pirates purchased his contract prior to the 1949 season for $125,000.
In 1949, Dickson went 12-14 for the Pirates. He collected a team leading 3.29 ERA and allowed 8.7 hits per nine innings with a 1.319 WHIP. Despite only starting 20 games, he finished tied for second on the team in wins. On June 9th, he took his ninth loss of the season by allowing one earned run on seven hits, striking out four while pitching 11.2 innings as the Pirates dropped a 4-3 decision to the Philadelphia Phillies. Later, on August 21st in game two of a doubleheader, he allowed a walk and two hits in a complete game 8-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates finished well out of the hunt, at 71-83 in sixth place for the NL title.
1950 would see Dickson go 10-15, starting 22 of his team leading 51 total appearances. He racked up a Pirates best 3.80 ERA. In game two of a doubleheader on September 24th, he earned a 3-2 victory for his 10th win of the season. He allowed two earned runs to the Cincinnati Reds, allowing eight hits. The Pirates finished in last place, at 57-96.
Dickson continued to be the lone bright spot on a bad team in 1951, posting a career high 20 wins against 16 losses with a 4.02 ERA. Nobody else on the team had more than eight victories. The team went 64-90, finishing seventh in the NL. Dickson finished 19 of his 35 starts, of 45 total appearances, including three shutouts. For his 20th win of the season, he struck out seven while allowing only five hits in a 3-0 shutout of the Reds, in game one of a doubleheader on September 23rd. He would finish ninth in the NL MVP voting.
In 1952, Dickson led the NL in losses, at 14-21 with a not too embarrassing team leading 3.57 ERA. He completed 21 of 34 starts, including two shutouts. Despite leading the league in losses, he doubled second place Howie Pollet in wins on the team. Pittsburgh finished the season with their worst record since 1890, going 42-112. His best performance of the season was on August 8th, when he limited the Chicago Cubs to six hits, striking out seven in a 10 inning, 1-0 victory. He also knocked in the winning run, driving in pinch runner Brandy Davis in the bottom of the tenth with a single. His purgatory did not go unnoticed by the NL MVP voting committee, as he collected enough votes to finish 13th.
1953 would see Dickson again lead the NL in losses while leading the Pirates in victories, posting a 10-19 record. He was named to his first all-star team for his troubles. His 4.53 ERA led the 50-104, last place team. He earned his seventh victory of the season on June 30th, striking out five and allowing six hits in a 3-1 win over the New York Giants. The Pirates traded him to the Phillies prior to the 1954 season for pitcher Andy Hansen, infielder Jack Lohrke, and $70,000. Neither player ever appeared for Pittsburgh.
Dickson would post a 22-34, 3.71 ERA for the Phillies over parts of the next three seasons. He later also played for the Cardinals (18-11, ERA around 3.5), the Kansas City Athletics (11-6, 3.97) and the New York Yankees (1-2, 5.75).
For a more thorough recap of the life and times of Murry Dickson, check out his SABR Bio, by Warren Corbett.
All-Time Statline: Five seasons, 66-85, 3.83 ERA, 228 games, 137 starts, 69 CG, eight shutouts, 11 saves, 1216.1 innings pitched, 1255 hits allowed, walked 398, struck out 477, 1.359 WHIP, 18.6 wins above replacement.