Baseball in the 1950s: Stile Italiano

Baseball in the 1950s: Stile Italiano

A poem by Joe Carriero

Originally published in the Italian American Digest – Fall 2012 – NewOrleans,LA

In the 1950s, Sinatra sang, DeLillo wrote, and Fermi built the bomb.
Stella painted, Sirica judged, and Lou Costello had a great sitcom.
But Italians also starred in Major League Ball.
Some even went to Cooperstown’s famoso Hall.
Yankee greats DiMaggio and Berra come immediately to mind.
As does “the Scooter,” Phil Rizzuto, a shortstop so sublime.
The Dodgers too had a few paisans; think of catcher Campanella.
Roy’s mom was black, but papa John was a nice Sicilian fella.
Joe D’s brother Dom roamed Fenway Park and, like Joe, had all the tools.
Dominick could hit, field, run, and cook – delicioso pasta “fazool.”
Ralph Branca, unlucky Brooklyn goat, pitched “the shot heard round the world.”
John Antonelli, ’54 Giants ace, won or saved every Series games he hurled.
Though young Garagiola was more highly prized, pal Yogi proved much better.
But neither played as many years as the Cubs’ Phil Cavaretta.
You may be surprised to learn that Harry Caray did allow
His moniker changed from Carabina. That deserves a “Holy Cow!”
Frank Torre played a fine first base, yet he didn’t get the glory
Reached by backstop brother Joe, a Brave not a chicken – catcher Torre.
An Indian born in Tuscany? Madonnnn! Such was pitcher Chick Pieretti.
An Italian was a Senator too: righty Vito Valentinetti.
Kansas City once traded to the Yanks Signore Joseph Paul DeMaestri.
Though fans would call him “Oats,” Joe preferred pizzells and other pastries.
Reno “Pete” Bertoia was born in San Vito, a small town north of Venice.
He played second for the Tigers, and foes thought he was a menace.
Rocco Colavito, though from the Bronx, only became a Yankee late.
He homered for Cleveland and Detroit, but retired as a “Bomber.” Fate!
Sal Maglie, dubbed “the Demon Barber,” scared batters to the bone.
A key player for the Boston Sox was third baseman Frank Malzone.
Another Red Sox who played infield was Billy “the kid” Consolo.
The rumor was his running slowed after a plate of aglio e olio.
Because he played on seven different teams, many loved Gino Cimoli,
Who was born in San Francisco and thus chose cioppino not ravioli.
Though Lasorda played for just three seasons, he still made the Hall of Fame.
Tommy bled Dodger blue for 20 years and won 16-hundred games.
Sam Dente liked pasta firm to the bite, yet no one called him Al,
Cause “Blackie” was his nome to all teammates and most pals.
Babe Pinelli was the home-plate ump for Larsen’s perfect game.
His strike-three call to end that day was to some a crying shame.
Carl Furillo, known as “Skoonj” in Brooklyn, a great fielder and fine batter,
Played fifteen years in the National League, two more than Stan Lopata.
Ralph Caballero was a Phillies speedster, and fans knew him as “Putsy.”
In eight long years only one home run, but on the bases he was gutsy.
Somehow traded for himself was Cubbies’ catcher Chiti.
Harry ate “bragiol” and steak “pizzaiol” and loved his mama’s ziti.
A Brooklyn Bum whose given name was Harry Lavagetto
Played ball real good, but managed bad; Cookie’s teams hit like falsettos.
Don Mossi, known as “Sphinx” and “Ears,” pitched for Cleveland with Bob Feller.
But when traded to Detroit in ’59, he got hooked on mortadella.
These baseball stars and many more had us cheering oh so loud.
Following their exploits made us Italians molto proud.
Their contributions on and off the field added so much to the game.
It’s safe to say without them our National Pastime ain’t the same.

Joe Carriero’s family emigrated from Bari to New York, where he grew up loving baseball–especially the Yankees. He now lives in Denver, CO, with his lovely wife Mary Carol.

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Carm Reale
10 months ago

Poet Laureate of RMSABR 👏🏻

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