May 16, 2014

Former Italian / American New York Giants Player: Louis Chiozza (1937-1939)

Louis Peo Chiozza was born on May 17, 1910 in Tallulah, Louisiana. The six foot left handed hitting Chiozza, was raised in Memphis Tennessee becoming an all around athlete in high school. He played baseball, basketball, football, handball, ran track & was also a boxer. He was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1933, getting his MLB debut the next year.
He became the Phillies main second baseman also playing third base & a bit of outfield. In his rookie year he batted .304 with a .357 on base %, 0 HRs 28 doubles 5 triples 34 walks & six hit by pitches (3rd in the league). He became known as one of the fastest men in the game at that time. He stole nine bases which don’t seem like much now, but it put him the league’s top ten back in the 1934 season.

In the first ever night game in baseball history on May 24th, 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a button from the White House which lit up Crosley Field, in Cincinnati. Chiozza made history as he stepped up to the plate as the first batter in that historic night game. That season he also set a record with eleven assists in a game against the Boston Braves. 

Family: His brother Dino Chiozza played in two games for the Phillies that year as well, making them one of baseball’s first big league brothers combo to play on the same team.

In a June 1935 game against Boston, Chiozza hit a ball in the Baker Bowl that a 40 year old Babe Ruth attempted to catch down the line. Ruth couldn’t get to it and the ball rolled around the outfield. The Braves short stop retrieved the ball & threw it to the catcher attempting to nail Chiozza at the plate.

The ump called him out, preventing the inside the park HR. Most people agreed that Chiozza was safe & the call was a sympathy gesture to make up for Ruth’s sloppy play. Even Ruth knew his career was done; he walked off the field and retired two days later. Chiozza would play two more seasons for the Phillies batting .284 & then .297 before getting traded to the New York Giants for the 1937 season.

He was the Giants main third baseman in their 1937 NL Pennant season, but his average fell off to just .232. He stole six bases, hit 4 HRs with 11 doubles & drove in just 29 runs, least among all the Giants main players. In the World Series he went 2-7 (.286) playing in just two Series games against the AL New York club.

By the 1938 season his role became that of a utility player as Mel Ott moved from the outfield to play third base. Chiozza played in 34 games at second base, 16 in the outfield & just one at home.

In 1939 he had a severe collision with outfielder Jo Jo Moore on a pop fly, in which he suffered a compound fracture to his leg. The injury ruined his career at age 30 and he was forced to retire after a failed comeback.

In his si277 with 633 hits, 14 HRs 107 doubles 22 triples 303 runs scored 107 RBIs & a .324 on base % in 616 games played.

Retirement: After his baseball career, he ran a grocery store with his brother. He also ran a liquor store, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was married & had five children, passing away at the age of 61 in 1971.
x year career he hit .

May 1, 2014

Italian / American Catcher With the Longest Name in MLB History: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2007-)

Jarrod Scott Saltalamacchia was born May 2, 1985, in West Palm Beach, Florida. The six foot four switch hitting catcher, has earned the nickname “Salty” & goes down in baseball history as having the longest last name (14 letters) of any player in MLB history.

In 2003 he was drafted right out of high school by the Atlanta Braves. In 2006 he was ranked the 18th top prospect in the country, batting .314 with 19 HRs & 81 RBIs at A ball Myrtle Beach. The next season he was ranked at #36 playing at AA Mississippi, batting .373 after just 22 games when he got called up to fill in for an injured Brian McCann in Atlanta.

He debuted in May of 2007 hitting .284 until July 31st when the highly touted rookie was traded to the Texas Rangers as one of the main players in the deal that sent Mark Teixeira to the Braves. On August 22nd, he hit a pair of HRs in the historic 30-3 Texas rout over the Baltimore Orioles. On the season he hit .266 with 11 HRs 13 doubles & 33 RBIs in 93 games between both teams. In 2008 he lost his starting catching job to Gerald Laird & in 61 games batted .253.

In 2009 he hit 9 HRs with 34 RBIs playing in 84 games batting just .233 on the season. In 2010 he injured his shoulder & eventually got traded to the Boston Red Sox, where he was tutored by veteran Jason Varitek. Over that winter he worked hard as he was given the Red Sox main catching job for the 2011 season.

In 103 games he hit 16 HRs with 23 doubles & 56 RBIs. On May 15th Saltalamacchia hit a HR in the Red Sox 7-5 win over the AL New York club. From that week on he hit four HRs & drove in seven runs in the next ten days. In July he drove in 14 runs, & hit another four HRs. On July 24th he had a four RBI day against the Mariners in Seattle. In August he drove in another 12 runs, hitting four HRs with six multi hit games. Defensively for the year, he threw out 31% of would be base stealers, posting a .992 fielding % while leading the league in passed balls (26).

In 2012 Saltalamacchia led the Red Sox in HRs with 25, he batted just .222 with 17 doubles & 59 RBIs in the disappointing Red Sox fifth place season. On April 26th he hit two HRs in a 10-3 win over the Chicago White Sox. He had big five RBI, three hit day on May 13th against the Cleveland Indians. His day was highlighted by a two run HR off Dan Wheeler.

Most of his HRs would come in hot streaks, during a weekend inter league game against the Phillies at Philadelphia he hit two HRs. He would hit six HRs total in the final two weeks of May. In the final two weeks of June he hit four more HRs. In July he hit three HRs from June 21st through the 27th, including a big one to help beat the A.L. New York club 3-2 in a ten inning game at New York. In the last week of August he hit three more HRs, then hit just two more in September.

Behind the plate he threw out just 18% of runners trying to steal & allowed the most stolen bases in the AL with 26. He posted a .992 fielding% in 104 games caught.

In 2013 he was the main catcher for the World Champion Red Sox team, batting .273 with 14 HRs 40 doubles & 65 RBIs. Defensively he caught 119 games (4th in the AL) & allowed the most stolen bases for the second straight season. But he also threw out 24 base runners trying to steal which was second most in the AL.

Post Season: In his first career post season game, he doubled & had two hits with three RBIs in Game #1 of the ALDS against the Tampa Rays.
His big moment came in Game #2 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, when he had a walk off RBI single off Rick Porcello in the 6-5 Red Sox win. He had two more hits in the Game #4 loss.

He was behind the plate for the final out of the ALCS & caught a leaping Koji Uehara in his arm as the they celebrated the pennant win at Fenway Park.

In the World Series he played in just two games going hitless as Mike Napoli got most of the catching starts.
In the off season he agreed to a $21 million three year deal to play for the Florida, Marlins. He is going from the World Champions to a team that lost 100 games. He is the first free agent to sign with the Marlins since John Buck in 2011. Salty grew up in near by West Palm, Beach Florida.

Personal: Salty is married to his wife Ashley who is fourteen years older than him, together they have three children.

Ashley was a teacher at the high school where Jarrod attended but never taught any of his classes. The two did not begin dating until after Jarrod had graduated & by that time Ashley was a phys ed teacher