Lewis Pessano, better known as “Buttercup Dickerson,” was the first Italian American to play in the major leagues. In 1879, he led the National League in triples with 14, and in 1881, he was the fifth person in the National League on record to have six hits at six at-bats. A small utility player (5’6″ and 140 pounds), Dickerson played seven years in the majors.
Dickerson made his major league debut on July 15, 1878 as the starting outfielder for Cincinnati. After playing two seasons with the Reds, 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 in 1885. He retired with a lifetime batting average .284.
Dickerson died July 23, 1920 in Baltimore, Maryland and was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.