Richard Cummings Wakefield
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 210 lb.
- School University of Michigan
- Debut June 26, 1941
- Final Game May 6, 1952
- Born May 6, 1921 in Chicago, IL USA
- Died August 26, 1985 in Redford, MI USA
" . . . the papers made a big deal of it . . . they were writing about me every day." - Dick Wakefield, about the big bonus he received in 1941
". . . if I had my life to live over again, I’m inclined to think that I’d have to try and do something that’s more fundamental for humanity than a professional athletic career." - Dick Wakefield
Dick Wakefield played nine seasons in the majors, posting an excellent OPS+ of 131.
The son of Howard Wakefield, Wakefield was born in Chicago, IL and attended the University of Michigan in 1941. He received a $55,000 bonus (at the time, a huge sum) upon signing with the Detroit Tigers in 1941. Wakefield's brother, Bob Wakefield, also played minor league ball in the 1950s.
Dick hit .300 in the minors and made his major league debut in 1941, then was the Texas League MVP with the Beaumont Exporters the following season. He returned to Detroit in 1943, hitting .316 and leading the American League with 38 doubles.
Wakefield entered Naval aviation pre-flight in October 1943 and was discharged in July 1944. He played 78 games in 1944 and had an excellent OPS+ of 189, which would have led the league if he had had enough at-bats. Each of his BA, OBP and SLG was high enough to lead the league if he had had enough at-bats.
He entered the Navy in November 1944 and was discharged in January 1946. In 1945 he played service ball on the same team as Stan Musial and Dick Sisler. After the war, Wakefield had several more decent seasons with the bat, although not as good as his 1943 and 1944 seasons. His OBP was over .400 in each of 1947 and 1948 and he showed some power in each of 1946-1948, slugging over .400.
He finished out his major league career playing three games with the New York Yankees in 1950 and three with the New York Giants in 1952. In 1950-1951 he spent most of the season with the Oakland Oaks, and in 1952 he played part of the season with the Minneapolis Millers.
The Baseball Rookies Encyclopedia has a photo of him swinging and claims that fellow players thought him a "major talent that for the most part went unrealized", while managers saw him as being "somewhere between casual and indifferent".
"At 45 . . . (he) is still one of the area's most eligible bachelors. A bon vivant and world traveler, he has palled around with Frank Sinatra and his friends . . . and was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress." - from Baseball Digest in July 1967, quoting the Detroit Free Press
- 1942 MVP Texas League Beaumont Exporters
- AL All-Star (1943)
- AL At Bats Leader (1943)
- AL Hits Leader (1943)
- AL Doubles Leader (1943)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1943)