Showing posts from February, 2013

Zany Italian /American New York Giants Player Who Once Challenged MLB's Reserve Clause: Danny Gardella (1944-1945)

Daniel Lewis Gardella was born on February 26th 1920 to an Italian American family in New York City. He originally signed with the Detroit Tigers but  did not get to the major leagues. Six years later, while working in a ship yard, he signed with the New York Giants.  He was a wild character who was known on the field to walk on his hands to the cheers of the Polo Grounds crowds. On the road, he would scare his roomates by hanging out of hotel windows by his finger tips.  Gardella would imitate his Hall of Fame manager Mel Otts' one legged batting stance, with a comedic twist getting huge laughs from team mates. He would sing openly and burst out into song out of nowhere, with his baratone voice any chance he got.  The muscular Gardella was one of the first players to work out with heavy weights. He would swing an Iron bat to loosen up as well.  He only played for the Giants for two seasons, seeing action first in 1944, batting .250 in 47 games. In 1945 he had his best sea

Short Time Italian / American Mets Reserve Catcher: Phil Lombardi (1989)

Phillip Arden Lombardi was born on February 20, 1963 at Abilene, Texas. The six foot two catcher was drafted right out of high school in the third round of the 1981 draft by the A.L. New York club. He hit over .290 at AAA Columbus in 1986 earning him a big league call up.  He made his debut in the Bronx in 1986, replacing Ron Hassey behind the plate and immediately made a throwing error as Cleveland's Bret Butler was trying to steal a base. In just twenty games he hit .278 with 2 HRs & 6 RBIs. After five brief games at the big league level in 1987 he was traded across town to the New York Mets, along with Steve Frey & Darren Reed for short stop Rafael Santana. Lombardi hit a team leading .308 at AAA Tidewater in 1988 with 9 HRs & 44 RBIs in 85 games. Although he fell off to .261 the next year he led the team hitting 14 HRs & was second to Tom O'Malley driving in 73 runs. Lombardi was called up in June 1989 when the Mets needed help behind the plate. He was

Short time Bronx Born Italian / American Player: Peter Zoccolillo (2003)

Peter Jude Zoccolillo was born on February 6, 1977 in the Bronx, New York. He soon moved to Westchester County, going to White Plains high School, playing baseball there among other sports. He then attended Rutgers University where he was a four year Letterman in baseball, breaking ten different school records. The three year All American still holds the schools record for most career RBIs (tied).  He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1999 in the 23rd round as an outfielder. He was soon traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in a deal involving David Weathers. From 2000 to 2003, he batted over .290 three times at the minor league levels, making a brief big league appearance in 2003. He only played in just 20 games in the outfield, for the 2003 Brewers getting 4 hits in 37 at bats (.108) with three RBIs.  He never made the big leagues again, going to the Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals & Colorado Rockies organizations. In 2006 Zocco, played for Team Italy in the World Baseball