Sep 18, 2013

Former Italian /American NY Giants Catcher: Bill Sarni (1956)

William Florine Sarni was Born September 19, 1927 in Los Angeles, California. At 15 years old he was playing in the Pacific Coast League, soon becoming one of the leagues top defensive catchers.

By the time he got to trough the minors he had led all catchers in fielding percentage, put outs & assists at least once. He was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals and made his debut in 1951.

By 1954 he was the Cards main catcher and had his best season ,batting .300 with 114 hits, 9 HRs , & 70 RBIs. Behind the plate he threw out 43% of would be base stealers and led catchers in games played (18) double plays (12) & fielding percentage (.996).

He dropped off to a .255 average the next year, and made seven errors behind the plate, but he still trew out 46% of would be base stealers with his great arm. In June of 1956 he was involved in a big trade with the New York Giants. Sarni, Red Schoendienst, Jackie Brandt,& Dick Littlefield went to New York for Alvin Dark, Ray Katt, Don Liddle and Whitey Lockman.

At the Polo Grounds he replaced Ray Katt as the Giants main catcher, sharing time with future Mets manager Wes Westrum. He led all N.L. catchers in double plays (10) & assists 9610 while posting a .992 fielding percentage (#2 in the league) & throwing out 42% of would be base stealers. In 78 games in New York he hit .231 with 5 HRs 9 doubles 3 triples & drove in 23 runs.

During Spring Training on 1957, Sarni suffered a heart attack which finished off his playing career at just 29 years old. After five career seasons, he batted .263 with 311 hits, 22 HRs, 50 doubles & 151 RBIs.

He posted a .991 fielding percentage while throwing out 43% of base runners who attempted to steal on him.

Retirement: The Giants kept him on as a coach after releasing him as a player. He eventually retired to Creve Coeur, Missouri where he passed away at the young age of 55 in 1982.

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