Dec 10, 2014

Former Italian / American Player: Gino Cimoli (1956-1965)

Gino Nicholas Cimoli was born to an Italian immigrant father and an Italian American mother, on December 18, 1929, in San Francisco, California.

He attended Galileo High School playing basketball & baseball there in his senior year. The six foot one right hand hitting outfielder, got signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949. Cimoli hit over .300 four times in seven seasons in the minor leagues, becoming the star player at the AAA Montreal club in 1955. He hit .306 with 85 RBIs & 73 runs scored making it to Ebbets Field the next year in 1956.

That year he appeared mostly as a defensive replacement batting just .111 in 73 games. One of his first thrills was playing the World Series that year, coming in as a replacement for Sandy Amoros.

He had matinee idol looks & the ladies of Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn fell in love with him. They started up the “Gino Cimoli Fan Club”in his honor. As popular as he was he had an attitude problem early on.

One night on a Good Will tour of duty in Japan, he got a straightening out from Dodger veteran, Hall of Famer; Roy Campanella. Looking back he says that conversation & a near fatal car accident which involved his wife & daughter changed his outlook on life. 

In 1957 he became a Dodger regular outfielder alongside Duke Snider & Carl Furillo. He had his carreer year, batting .293 with 10 HRs 22 doubles 57 RBIs & 10 sacrifice hits (5th in the league) making the NL All Star team. He moved west with the club to Los Angeles where his average dropped a almost fifty points to .243 the next year. In the 1958/1959 off season he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Wally Moon.

That year the Cardinals finished in seventh place; as his old Dodger team mates went on to win the World Series. Cimoli hit 40 doubles (4th in the league) to go along with seven triples (8th in the league) while batting .279 with 8 HRs & 72 RBIs. After one season he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, playing there as a fourth outfielder, playing behind Roberto Clemente, Bill Virdon & Bob Skinner.

He batted .267 in with no HRs & 28 RBIs in 101 games for the World Champion Pirates.

Post Season: He appeared in all seven games of the 1960 World Series going 5-20 (.250) with two walks, an RBI & four runs scored. In Game #7 he pinch hit in the 8th inning, leading off with a single, then advancing to second on the famous Bill Virdon bouncer, that struck Tony Kubek in the throat.

Cimoli went on to score, on Dick Groats base hit. The Pirates came from three runs down to score five runs & go ahead 9-7. Although the AL New York club tied it, the Pirates went on to win the World Series on Bill Mazeroski’s classic walk off HR.

The next year he was traded to Milwaukee and only hit .197 in 37 games before landing a regular role with the Kansas City A’s. His best season in Kansas City came in 1962 as he hit 10 HRs with 20 doubles a league leading 15 triples & a career best 71 RBIs while batting .275. He would spend 1964 with three different teams (the Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, & Los Angeles Angels) before finishing out his playing career.

In his ten year career he batted .265 with 808 hits 44 HRs 133 doubles 48 triples 321 RBIs & a .315 on base %.

He had a couple of classic baseball card photos in his career too; his 1958 Topps Card has him swinging away while his as well as the background was painted out of the picture.

He also has a 1960 World Series card of him sliding into second base during Game #4. In his career he played behind some great players such as Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron & Frank Thomas.

Retirement: After baseball he began working for UPS in 1969 in San Francisco as a delivery driver. He worked an entire career there and was honored in 1990 for not ever having a vehicle accident in 21 years of service.

He became known as “the Lou Gehrig” of the UPS world. In his time there he never mentioned his baseball career, not wanting any special treatment.

Cimoli was also an avid fan of grey hound dog racing. Cimoli helped people trapped in the Marina District during the 1989 Bay Area Earthquake. Cimoli was very active in the San Francisco Italian American Club until his passing in February 2011 at age 81.

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