Chris Dickerson: 30th Dragons Player in the Major Leagues
In the Dayton Dragons 13 seasons, they have featured 11 .300 hitters. The list is limited to players who qualified for the batting title by compiling at least 378 plate appearances over a single season. The club record for a season belongs to first baseman Tonys Gutierrez, who hit .324 in 2005. The relatively low number of .300 hitters indicates why the milestone is coveted as a measure of success and consistency. Five of the 11 Dragons hitters to top the .300 mark have gone on to become Major Leaguers, including Chris Dickerson, the 30th Dragons player to reach the big leagues. Austin Kearns (2000), Joey Votto (2004), Justin Turner (2007), and Henry Rodriguez (2010) were the other Dragons .300 hitters to reach the Majors, while Gutierrez, Randy Stegall (2000), Andrew Beattie (2000), Noochie Varner (2002), Carlos Mendez (2009), and Donald Lutz (2011) are also on the list of Dragons to reach the milestone.
Dickerson, a native of Hollywood, California, played at Notre Dame High School, an institution with a long list of accomplished alumni including Leave it to Beaver's Jerry Mathers. Dickerson was the Reds 16th round draft pick in 2003 out of the University of Nevada-Reno. After a summer at Billings, he joined the Dragons out of spring training in 2004 and immediately impressed fans with his athleticism in center field. In just his ninth game of the season, Dickerson tied a club record that has never been broken when he collected five hits in one game. To date, only six other Dragons players have ever notched a five-hit game, most recently Ronald Torreyes in 2011. Less than two weeks after going 5 for 5, Dickerson followed with a four-hit game. At the end of his first month with the Dragons, he was hitting a solid .343.
Dickerson added two more four-hit games for the Dragons that summer and represented the club in the Midwest League All-Star Game. At the time he was promoted from the Dragons in late August, he was batting .303 with four home runs and 27 stolen bases. His teammate on the 2004 Dragons, Joey Votto, also joined the .300 club at .302. Only one other time in franchise history have the Dragons featured two .300 hitters in the same season.
Dickerson spent the 2005 season at Sarasota and moved up to Double-A Chattanooga in 2006. In 2007, he reached Triple-A Louisville and began to show the power that scouts expected from his muscular 6'4", 230 lbs. frame. He hit 14 homers in 2007 and added 23 steals while batting .260. His defense in center field was considered to be excellent.
After spending most of 2008 back in Louisville, where he improved to .281, Dickerson got the call to the Major Leagues on August 12 after the Reds traded former Dragon Adam Dunn to Arizona. Dickerson was immediately inserted into the Reds lead-off spot and got off to a great start. He collected a double in his first big league game, added three hits including two doubles in his next start, and then added a home run and double in his third game. A week later, Dickerson homered in back-to-back games at Colorado, and then added three more homers over his next eight games. After just 19 Major League games, Dickerson had already hit six home runs. He finished the year batting .304 in 31 games, providing great optimism for Dusty Baker and the Reds.
Dickerson spent nearly the entire 2009 season with the Reds, appearing in 97 games and batting .275, although his home run total fell to two. He returned in 2010 but endured an injury-plagued year and at one point while on the disabled list, returned to the Dragons, though his time in Dayton was limited to pre-game drills. He missed all of May, June, and July and upon his return to active duty in August, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds.
Dickerson signed with the Yankees as a free agent after the 2010 season and appeared in 85 games for the Bronx Bombers over two seasons, splitting his team between the big leagues and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He got his first post-season action with the Yankees in the 2011 American League Divisional Series against the Tigers. Dickerson was released by the Yankees on January 12, 2013, after the club signed a free agent and needed to open a spot on their 40-man roster.
Dickerson will be 30 years old on opening day, 2013 and is currently a free agent. His veteran experience, solid defense at all three outfield positions, and success as a pinch hitter is certain to provide a spring training opportunity with someone. He was the 30th Dragons player to reach the Major Leagues.
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