Jun 19, 2013

Former Italian / American International League Star: George Puccinelli (1927- 1940)

George Lawrence Puccinelli was born on June 22nd 1907, in San Francisco California. The six foot one right fielder was part of a long line of early twentieth century second generation Italians.

He began his pro career in 1927 with A ball Denver. It was just the start of a long 13 year minor league career. In 1931 he hit 20 HRs between A ball & AA ball.

In 1930 he got a chance in the major leagues, playing eleven games with the NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals, batting .563 going 9-16. He showed off his power in just his third game, hitting a three run HR against the Robins in Brooklyn. Two weeks later he hit another HR in his next game, coming in Cincinnati. On August 30th, he hit HR #3 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He got into one World Series game going 0-1 against the Champion Philadelphia Athletics.

He returned back to the minor leagues, leading the International League in hitting, batting .391, missing out on a .400 season by nine points. He also hit 28 HRs that year while playing at AA Rochester. He was called back up to St. Louis in 1932 for 31 games, batting .278 with three more HRs & 11 RBIs. In 1934 his contract was purchased by the cross town St. Louis Brown where he played ten games.

But it was in the minor leagues where he was a legend. In 1935 he had his best season winning the IL MVP Award. Puccinelli won the Triple Crown, while hitting 53 HRs with the International League Baltimore Orioles.

The following season he was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics, playing in a career high 135 games. He hit .278 with 11 HRs 30 doubles & 78 RBIs posting a .369 on base %. He struck out 70 times (5th in the AL) & in right field made 14 errors (most in the AL). His 11 assists were third best in the AL & posted a .948 fielding % (4th best).

He went back to the minors playing in the International League & Pacific Coast League through 1940. In 1938 he hit 37 HRs & 22 more the next year. In 1939 he led the league in hits with 123. In his minor league career he hit .330 with 85 HRs, making the International League Hall of Fame.

Retirement: Nicknamed Pooch, he was also known as The Count. After baseball he worked with a television firm in San Francisco. Sadly he passed away due to heart failure in 1930 at age 48.

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