Raymond Emmitt Dandridge (August 31, 1913 - February 12, 1994) was an American player in baseball's Negro leagues. He was born in Richmond, Virginia. Dandridge, a third baseman, was one of the greatest fielders in the history of baseball, and one of the sport's greatest hitters for average, but unfortunately his name is not familiar to the casual baseball fan. Moreover, because of the "gentlemen's agreement" not to allow African Americans in Major League Baseball, Dandridge was dismissed as being too old by the time of integration.
Dandridge was discovered by Detroit Stars manager Candy Jim Taylor in 1933 while playing for a local Richmond team. He played for the Stars in 1933 and for the Newark Dodgers, which were later called the Brooklyn Eagles, from 1934 to 1938. In 1939, badly underpaid by the Eagles, Dandridge moved to the Mexican League, where he played for nine of the next ten seasons, playing one last year for the Eagles in 1944. In 1948-49 he returned to the United States as a player-manager for the New York Cubans. Although more than capable of playing in the Majors, he never got the call to the big leagues, instead spending the last years of his career as the premier player in Triple-A baseball, batting .362 and leading all American Association third basemen in fielding percentage in 1949. He batted .360 in his last minor league season in 1955.
In spite of regularly batting over 350, Dandridge's greatest talent was in fielding. Monte Irvin, who played both in the Negro Leagues and the Major Leagues and saw every great fielding third baseman of two generations, said that Dandridge was the greatest of them all, adding that Dandridge almost never committed more than two errors in a season. Dandridge was also a tutor to a young Willie Mays.
After retiring from playing in 1955, Ray Dandridge worked as a scout for the San Francisco Giants and later ran a recreation center in Newark, New Jersey. He lived his final years in Palm Bay, Florida. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, an honor bestowed much belatedly on one of the greatest third basemen of all time.
Known Statistics: .355 Career Batting Average