Jun 14, 2015

Former Italian /American Long Island Player: Tony Graffanino (1996-2009)

Anthony Joseph Graffanino was born on June 6, 1972 in Amityville, Long Island. His original family name was Graffagnino, but he dropped the second G after his name was mispronounced by many minor league announcers .

The six foot, one right hand hitter attended East Islip high school, getting signed in 1990 by the Atlanta Braves in the tenth round. Graffanino spent six years in the Braves minor league system as an infielder. He was brought up to the Braves team in April 1996, but only hit .186 through June getting sent back down to the minors. He returned as a September call up, not making the post season roster.

He returned as a utility player in 104 games for the Braves in each of the next two seasons. He batted .258 in 1997 making his first post season.

Post Season: In Game #2 of the NLCS against the Florida Marlins he doubled & scored a run in the 7-1 Braves win. In Game #2 of the 1998 NLCS against the San Diego Padres, he drew a pair of walks and scored a run. Then in Game #5 he got a pinch hit double driving in a run off Donnie Wall in the 7-4 Atlanta victory.

Later in 2005, he received a lot of negative attention in New England, for making an error in the fifth inning of Game #2 of the 2005 ALDS. His error was followed by a Tadahito Iguchi three run HR that proved to be the game winning runs. In his career Graffanino has appeared in four different post seasons, batting .231 in 15 post season games.

Graffanino made a long career out of being a valuable utility player, able to get key hits in situational at bats. He has played for eight teams, playing all infield and outfield positions at one time or another. Atlanta Bravs (1996-1998) Tampa Rays (1998-2000) Chicago White Sox (2000-2003) Kansas CIty Royals (2004-2006) Boston Red Sox (2005) & Milwaukee Brewers (2006-2007).

In 2005, Graffanino had his best season with career highs in batting (.309) RBIs (38) runs (68) doubles (17) games (110) and hits (117) between playing with the Kansas City Royals & Boston Red Sox. It was that year he made the critical error in the post season.

In a 13 season career, Graffanino played in 981 games, batting .265 with 746 hits 58 HRs 302 RBIs 145 doubles & 53 stolen bases. His .981 fielding percentage as second baseman in 76th all time.

Although never officially retired, he remains unsigned & lives with his family in Arizona. He has done a lot of community work running youth baseball clinics.

No comments: