Jul 4, 2015

Former Italian / American Slugger: Rick Lancellotti (1978-1993)

Richard Anthony Lancellotti was born on July 5, 1956 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Italian American Lancellotti would play in just parts of three seasons in the major leagues in just 36 games. But the big six foot three, left handed slugger won five HR titles in the minor leagues & Japan combined. He also won an RBI title & drove in over 100 runs three times.

The outfielder / first baseman, was first drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round of the 1977 draft. In 1979 he was the Eastern League MVP hitting 41 HRs with 107 RBIs, leading the league in both categories while at AA Buffalo. In 1980 he hit 21 HRs between AA & an AAA promotion.

Lancelotti made his MLB debut for the San Diego Padres in 1982, but he only hit .179 in 17 games & was sent back down. In 1984 his 131 RBIs were the best in the league.

Just before the 1985 season was to begin, Lancellotti was traded to the New York Mets organization for Rusty Tillman. At AAA Tidewater he hit 10 HRs in 91 games, but only batted .180 and was traded once again.

In 1986 he led the Pacific Coast League in HRs (31) & drove in 131 runs. He was promoted to the San Francisco Giants where he hit the only two HRs of his MLB career, batting .222 in 15 games. His first came in Atlanta off the Braves Jeff Dedmon in a 8-2 Giants win. The second came in Cincinnati off Ron Robinson in a 6-5 loss to the Reds.

The next two seasons he went to play in Japan with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He won another HR title there, hitting 39 round trippers in 1987 and 58 over the two seasons. But his average was a poor .207.

He accused his manager of trying to lose games, by not using pinch hitters late in the game, the manager did not return the next season. He went to the Japanese media with the story, and the team threatened not to pay him. He was eventually paid off to say it was all a misunderstanding.

He got out of Japan & went to the short lived Senior Professional League, where he won another HR title. He went back to the minors playing for AAA Pawtucket, after hitting 10 HRs was promoted to the 1990 Red Sox for four games, going 0-8.

In 1991 he won his fifth title, this one at AAA Pawtucket with 21. At the time a Boston Globe reporter made a huge error, writing in his column that Lancelloti had broken the all time minor league HR record.

He made the celebrity circuit appearing on CNN television, had an article written on him in Sports Illustrated & USA Today news paper. Amazingly, no one checked out the actual record, as everyone assumed the record was 255 HRs, which was used in the movie Bull Durham. In reality he is well over 100 HRs away from even being in that top ten.

In 1992 Lancelloti went to Italy playing in the Serie 1 baseball league, for the Cariparma Angels. "It was a nice way to go out. They only played twice a week, practiced for about an hour on three days, and gave us the other two days off." He also said he loved the food.

Retirement: Lancelloti retired in 1993 with 276 HRs 984 RBIs 241 doubles 37 triples 888 strike outs & a .252 average in 1536 minor league games over 15 seasons. He now runs a baseball school in Buffalo, New York & was inducted into the Buffalo, Hall of Fame.

In 1995 he told The Sporting News "the union doesn't care about minor league guys...guys are trying to make a living down here. Why couldn't they cut 1 percent off the major league salaries and distribute it to minor leaguers?....How many swimming pools do you need?"

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