Former Italian / American Pitcher Who Later Threw Mets Batting Practice: John Valentinetti (1954-1959)

Vito John Valentinetti was born on September 16, 1928 in West New York, New Jersey. He grew up in his later years in Mount Vernon, New York just outside the Bronx. 

Valentinetti went to Aviation high school with Hall of Fame pitcher-Whitey Ford & got a baseball scholarship to Iona College in New Rochelle. Vito made Iona history by throwing  the school’s first ever no hitter. 

He helped lead the Iona Gaels team to winning seasons ever year he pitched. The hard throwing right hander became the first Iona player to make it to the major leagues & is enshrined in their Hall Of Fame. Three players, all pitchers have made it to the bog leagues via Iona.

Valentinetti was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1950, but then went off to the US Army for two years of military service. He joined the Cubs staff in 1954 pitching just one game. He went back to the minors returning in 1956 going 6-4 with a 3.78 ERA. He was mostly a relief pitcher in his career but made occasional starts as well. 

He would pitch in the South side of Chicago  for parts of three seasons, as well as for the Cleveland Indians (1957) Detroit Tigers (1958) &Washington Senators (1958 -1959). In 1958 he made 23 appearances (10 starts) going 4-6 with a 5.08 ERA for the 8th place Senators.

Over a five year career he posted a 13-14 Career record with 3 saves, 94 strike outs & a 4.73 ERA in 257 innings pitched in 108 games.

NY Mets Ties: After his playing days he threw occasional batting practice for the Mets home games from 1962-1982. He also tossed some BP across town for the A.L. New York team, during their home stands. Pretty kool job in retirement for Mr. Valentinetti.

Honors: He was honored in a parade at Hoboken, New Jersey with other Jersey born major leaguers, celebrating 100 years of baseball in that town. The mayor of Hoboken, the Governor of New Jersey & other celebrities were also on hand for the bog event. 

He was also honored by the Detroit Tigers at their new ball park, with a brick engraved with his name & other old Tiger player’s names on it.

After throwing batting practice, he began a 25 year career in the New York State Department of Office Administration. In 2009 he was on hand to open up the new Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


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