Mar 10, 2016

Former Italian / American Brooklyn World Series Hero: Al Gionfriddo (1944-1947)

Albert Francis Gionfriddo was born on March 8th, 1922 in Dysart, Pennsylvania. The Italian American outfielder served in World War II returning to debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1944 for just four games.

In 1945 he would be the Pirates regular outfielder, on the fourth place club, in his only full season. He hit .284 striking out just 22 times in 406 at bats, hitting 2 HRs with 42 RBIs 18 doubles 9 triples (6th in the league) & 74 runs scored. He stole 12 bases (10th in the league) while posting a .376 on base %.

In 1947 he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers along with $100,000 for five players including future MLB manager Gene Mauch. He would play just one season in Brooklyn but that’s where he would be forever remembered. On the regular season he only hit .177 with six RBIs in 37 games, but it was in the World Series where he became a hero.

In Game #4 of the 1947 World Series, the AL New York teams pitcher Bill Bevan had a no hitter going into the 9th inning. Carl Furillo walked and Gionfriddo came in to pinch run for him. After another walk, Cookie Lavagetto got the first & only Dodger hit of the game. the hit scored Gionfriddo as well as Furillo for the dramatic Brooklyn victory.

In Game #6 the Dodgers were leading 8-5 in the 6th inning when Gionfriddo was brought in as a defensive replacement to play left field. With two men on base, Joe DiMaggio blasted a shot to the 415 foot mark in deep left center field. Gionfriddo raced across the field and reached over the fence to make the catch robbing Dimaggio of a HR. Gionfriddo’s hat flew off, and DiMaggio in a rare show of emotion kicked the dirt while approaching second base.

In the Series Gionfriddo went hitless in three at bats, but stole a base, scored two important runs, plus made one of the top catches in World Series history. The next season he was back in the minors & spent nine years there as a player, before becoming a minor league manager.

In his brief four season MLB career he played in 228 games batting .266 with 154 hits two HRs 58 RBIs 22 doubles & 12 triples.

Retirement: He retired from pro ball by 1960 and became a scout for the Cincinnati Reds. He was an athletic director in Santa Barbra California & opened a restaurant there as well. He suffered a heart attack & passed away while playing golf in Solvang California in 2003, at the age of 81.

1 comment:

Cliff Blau said...

Gionfriddo played more than three years in the minors after 1947 before becoming a manager, and he had some real good years at Montreal: a .929 OPS in 1948, a .430 OBA the next year, and .428 in 1950. Seems odd he didn't get recalled by the Dodgers.