He’s the greatest fielding first baseman I ever saw.
-Joe Cronin, United Press, April 19, 1935
Having succeeded the top-ranking first baseman of all time it has been Dahlgren’s unpleasant experience to continue a victim of odious and unfair comparisons. However, only those that watch the Yankees day in and day out appreciate Babe for the defensive marvel he is, and know that he is far from the offensive weakling he is painted in popular imagination.
-Dan Daniel, August 28, 1940
Rarely a day goes by that he does not come up with some breathtaking play around first base. The clients gasp, shake their heads and say: “Did you ever see anything like that?” In most cases the correct answer would be “No,” because few first basemen ever could make some of the plays that Dahlgren does.
-James M. Kahn, New York Times, August 17, 1940
You have to see the Babe every day to appreciate the full range of his stuff, because as I say, he is always improvising. But half a dozen glimpses in a season will convince you of the truth of my argument, if your mind and eyes are open. As for Dahlgren’s eyes, he can close them and play a better first base than any other you’ll see today. Terry made no mistakes at first, but Dahlgren is twice as fast as Terry, Sisler was fast, but Dahlgren is more resourceful. Lacking what is known as grace, he may impress you on first sight as a scrambler and an acrobat. So he is, but pretty soon you realize that he never misses. He is as sure as death. The double play from first to second to first—said to be the finest in the game—Dahlgren can make 10 different ways. He plays a good right field from first base. He can range all over the park for pop fouls and take them over his shoulder or with his glove behind his back—never for show, always because it’s the easiest way for him to make that particular play. The guy can do everything, and I have a hunch that he invents plays as he goes along. If an old-timer were to swear to me on a stack of testaments that there was every a greater defensive first baseman than Ellsworth 'Babe' Dahlgren of the Yankees I wouldn’t believe him.
-John Lardner, June 13, 1940
Babe’s job is safe. He batted only .235 in 1939 and this year he went up to .260, but that’s not half the story. He saved more games for the Yanks with his fielding than some of our pitchers won. He makes impossible plays at first. He’s so good our infielders have become lazy.
-Joe DiMaggio, Brooklyn Eagle, October 27, 1940
There are elements of mystery in the release of Dahlgren by the Yankees. True it is that he was a mere .264 hitter last year and that he had never hit more than .281 in his six years in the big leagues, but the 73 runs he drove in last year was a better record than that of many a .300 hitter and with not another certified big league first baseman on their roster, the Yanks seem to have gone off the deep end in releasing Dahlgren. When you saw Dahlgren out there scooping up wild throws with trifling ease, or spearing fierce line drives as if he were plucking bean bags, you saw the pinnacle of the art of first base play.
-Shirley Povich, Washington Post, February 28, 1941
The rangy, 30 year old Californian, who is generally conceded to be one of the finest first base stylists of our time and a dangerous, long-driving, if not particularly consistent, hitter, has been batted back and forth like a table tennis ball for so long that his travels have become a matter of national curiosity
-J.G.T Spink, The Sporting News, June 18, 1942
On the basis of the National League standing of 1943, Dahlgren would appear to have been favored with what is known as a kick upstairs. In the case of Bobo Newsom, recurring changes of scene may be explained without delving into the mystic. There is a suspicion that Newsom is given to loquacity which does not fit into certain locations. Dahlgren, on the other hand, is as mild-mannered a man as may be found in all organized ball. Just what is it that keeps Dahlgren, apparently a model player, on the move? Seemingly, the Dahlgren conundrum is one of those mysteries that cannot be solved.
-The Sporting News, December 23, 1943
Dahlgren is something of a mystery man. One season he led the Cubs in driving in runs; the next year he was gone. This season he led the Phillies in hitting; now he’s traded.
-Joe Williams, New York World-Telegram, January 3, 1944