Jan 21, 2015

Former Italian / American New York Giants Player Turned Long Time MLB Coach: Joe Amalfitano (1954-1955)

John Joseph Amalfitano was born January 23, 1934 in San Pedro, California. The five foot eleven right hand hitter, attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles getting signed as a bonus baby in 1954 by the New York Giants.

The rules at the time had him on the Giants big league squad for the 1954 & 1955 seasons. He appeared in nine games in the Giants 1954 Championship season going 0-5. He made also made six appearances as a defensive replacement. The next year he was used mostly as a pinch hitter batting .227 (5-22) with two extra base hits & an RBI.

He spent the next four seasons in the minors batting over .280 every year with a high of .308 in 1959. Amalfitano was back in the majors in 1960 with the now west coast San Francisco Giants, playing 106 games in a utility role.

In 1961 he was the team’s main second baseman batting .255 with 2 HRs 11 doubles & 23 RBIs. He walked 44 times & posted a .331 on base %. The next season he became an original Houston Colt 45 (later to be the Astros) after being drafted as their second pick in the expansion draft. He hit .237 that year, then was traded back to the Giants for Many Mota & Dick LeMay in November.

Amalfatano would play out his career with the Chicago Cubs as a utility infielder from 1964 through 1967. After serving as the teams main second baseman in 1964 he played behind the All Star Glenn Beckertt until 1967. In his ten year career he batted .244 with 9 HRs 67 doubles 19 triples 123 RBIs & a .320 on base % in 643 games.

Trivia: On the back of one of his early sisties Topps baseball cards it states “Joe likes to play the accordion”.

Coaching: After his playing days he became a long time major league coach for thirty one seasons. He first coached with the Chicago Cubs under his first manager back in his New York Giants playing days; Leo Durocher. Amalfitano was a member of the 1969 Cubs coaching staff that saw their NL East lead be taken over by the eventual World Champion New York Mets.

Amalfitano went back to San Francisco as a coach with the Giants (1972-1975) then to the San Diego Padres (1976-1977). He then went back to the Cubs under Herman Franks (1978-1979), even taking over as interim manager when Franks was fired. He became their full time manager after Preston Gomez was let go, (1980 - 1981). He then went to the Cincinnati Reds (1982) under John McNamara & Russ Nixon.

In 1983 he began a long 16 year run as Tommy Lasorda’s third base coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would win a World Series title there in 1988.

It was Amalfitano who greeted Kirk Gibson as he rounded third base into the coaching box on his way to home plate, after hitting his famous 1988 World Series Game #1 walk off HR.

In 2002 he was named Dodgers senior advisor to baseball operations (2002-2004). He went back to the Giants front office in 2005 & worked as a special assistant since 2011.

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