Lewis Pessano was the first Italian-American to play in the major leagues. Known as “Buttercup Dickerson”, he led the National League in triples with 14 in 1879, and in 1881 he was the fifth person in the National League on record to have six hits at six at-bats. He retired with a lifetime batting average .284.
Born on October 11, 1858 in Tyaskin, Maryland, 5’6″ and 140 pounds, Pessano played seven years in the majors, making his debut on July 15, 1878 as the starting outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds. He played 29 games in the outfield. In 1879, he took over the regular left field job after Charley Jones departed for the Boston Red Caps. He batted .294, drove in 57 runs, and hit a league-leading 14 triples.
After playing two seasons, he was traded to the Troy Trojans in 1880. Late in the season, he began playing for the Worcester Ruby Legs, and then joined the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1883. The next year, he played for the St. Louis Maroons, the Baltimore Orioles and the Louisville Colonels, and played his last season with the Buffalo Bisons.
Lewis Pessano Dickerson died July 23, 1920 in Baltimore, Maryland and was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.
He was married to Annie Rachel Shields Dickerson (1866 - 1949) and had a son, James Leroy Dickerson (1895 - 1953).