Joseph Lovitto Jr. Was born January 6, 1951 in San Pedro, California. The six foot outfielder was a highly touted prospect, getting picked in the first round (the number two overall pick) of the 1969 draft by the Washington Senators.
He had a brief but good minor league career hitting over .300 twice in 1971 between AA & AAA. He hit .326 in 34 games at AAA Denver getting a call up to the big leagues the next year. By then the Washington Senators had moved to Arlington Texas & became the Texas Rangers.
Lovitto was the Opening Day centerfielder as rookie under manager Ted Williams for the Rangers in the first game of their history. He showed good range in centerfield, posting a .976 fielding % with seven assists, although he made six errors.
He played in 117 games for Texas batting only .224 which wasn’t as bad as the team .217 average. He only had 1 HR with 19 RBIs & 9 doubles in 330 at bats.
The following season he injured his leg & only saw action in 26 games. He returned in 1974 to play in 123 games alongside that years AL MVP, Jeff Burroughs, but only hit .223 with 2 HRs & 26 RBIs.
In 1975 more injuries nagged him, & according to manager Billy Martin, if it wasn’t for the injuries he may have been a star player.
That season he shared the centerfield spot with Lenny Randle, Dave Moates & veteran Willie Davis, batting just .208 in 50 games. Two weeks before Christmas 1975 he was traded to the New York Mets for Outfielder Gene Clines.
Lovitto struggled & was released during Spring Training ending his playing career.
In a brief four year career he batted just .216 with 165 hits 22 doubles 4 HRs & 53 RBIs in 306 career games.
Retirement & Passing: After his playing days he remained in the Dallas area, residing in Arlington Texas.
In 1994 he was diagnosed with cancer & fought the battle bravely for seven years. In the hospitals he was known as "The Dago with nine lives" because he overcame the odds so many times. He passed away in 1991 at the age of 50.