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Life of 'Ole Diz' celebrated in Wiggins

JEFF CLARK/SUN HERALD 
 Gene Alexander and Ron Dyal check out some of the memorabilia at a birthday celebration for baseball great Dizzy Dean on Saturday in Wiggins.
JEFF CLARK/SUN HERALD Gene Alexander and Ron Dyal check out some of the memorabilia at a birthday celebration for baseball great Dizzy Dean on Saturday in Wiggins.

WIGGINS -- The birthday of a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame was celebrated Saturday in Wiggins.

Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean, who helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series victory in 1934, was born Jan. 16. After he retired from a lucrative post-playing career as a baseball announcer, he spent his last years in Stone County.

His late wife, Patricia, was a native of Stone County.

A birthday bash for "Ole Diz" was at the welcome center on U.S. 49, which bears his name. It allowed fans of Dean and those who knew him to swap memories of the baseball legend.

It was the first is a series of events planned throughout the year for Stone County's centennial celebrations.

"I only met him once -- I was working for the Hattiesburg American (newspaper) at the time," Ward 2 Alderman Ron Dyal said. "He took me on a tour of his museum, which is in Wiggins. I was enamored with him. I was excited."

Dyal said although Dean wasn't born in Wiggins, he considered it his hometown.

"He was a great representative for the town," he said. "He talked about Wiggins and Bond all of the time. This was his adopted hometown."

During his days as a sportscaster, Dean fostered a reputation as something of a "country bumpkin," using colorful colloquialisms during broadcasts.

Dyal said Dean lived up to his reputation as a character.

"My wife was working a charity car wash one time and Diz brought his car in," the said. "She cut her hand while washing his car, so he took her to the hospital and then gave her $150 for the car wash."

Gene Alexander, who also attended the celebration, said Dean was great ambassador for Wiggins and Stone County.

"I was in the Army in the late '60s," said. "Wherever I went, when they head my drawl they would ask where I was from. When I would tell them Wiggins, they would say, 'That's where Dizzy Dean is from.'"

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