Jul 19, 2014

Former Italian / American Pitcher Mark Lemongello & How He Kidnapped His Cousin; Singer Peter Lemongello

Mark Lemongello was born on July 21, 1955 across the river from Manhattan, in Jersey City, New Jersey. He grew up down near the Jersey Shore in Hazlet, New Jersey. The six foot one right hand pitcher, was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a free agent in 1973.

His cousin is the singer Peter Lemongello, who in 1976 became the first singer to sell a million records through television marketing. His “Love 76” campaign flooded the six major television stations in the New York area with seventy to one hundred commercials a week.

The commercials then ran the same way in Los Angeles & Las Vegas as Lemongello cashed in, big time. He became a popular crooner, playing Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show three times, Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall & New York's Lincoln Center. He was spoofed on Saturday Night Live by Chevy Chase & I remember as kids we made fun of his name all the time.

Peter still sings around the country, & was recently billed in Branson, Missouri as the “the Italian Crooner”. Another famous Lemongello, that is another cousin; is Mike, a professional bowler.

As for Mark, in December 1975 he was traded along with Leon Roberts, Terry Humphrey & Gene Pentz to the Houston Astros for Jim Crawford, Milt May and Dave Roberts.

In 1976 he was brought up to the Astro staff and impressed with a 3-1 record posting a 2.79 ERA. He earned a spot in the rotation for 1977, but found himself at 1-10 by mid June. He got stronger toward the end of the season, winning eight of his last twelve decisions. He finished at 9-14 allowing 237 hits with a 3.48 ERA for the third place Astros. 

On April 15th, 1978 he had a no hitter going through seven innings in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. In the 8th, Johnny Bench led off with a long HR, but Lemongello won the game 6-1. Overall in '78 he repeated with a 9-14 record, allowing 20 HRs & 92 earned runs, while posting a 3.94 ERA in 210 innings pitched. That year the Astros fell to fifth place. Lemongello was fourth on the club both seasons in victories.

In 1979 he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Alan Ashby & went 1-9 with a 6.29 ERA ending his MLB career. In a four year career he was 22-38 with a 4.06 ERA in 89 games pitched.

Kidnapping Drama: In 1982 Mark Lemoncello & former ball player Manuel Seoane (who pitched briefly for the Phillies & Cubs) were both arrested on kid napping charges.

The two former ball players held Mark Lemongello’s cousins, brothers Peter & Mike Lemongello up at gun point & forced them to with draw $50,000 from a bank in Pinellas County Florida. 

The two brothers were then left in a nearby wooded area. Supposedly, Peter was also on probation for insurance fraud but no formal convictions were made. The two kidnappers were ordered to spend ten years on probation.

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