Card: 1978 Topps #256
Joseph Salvatore Altobelli (born May 26, 1932 in Detroit MI) is an American former professional baseball first baseman / outfielder, manager, and coach, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) with both the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. In 1983, he succeeded Hall of Famer Earl Weaver as manager of the Baltimore Orioles and led the team to their sixth American League (AL) pennant and their third (and most recent) World Series championship.
As a player, Altobelli was a slugging first baseman and outfielder who enjoyed his greatest success at the AAA level. He batted only .210 in 166 MLB games with the Cleveland Indians (1955, 1957) and Minnesota Twins (1961). However, he was frequently in the double-digits in home runs as a AAA player. As a member of the Montreal Royals, he led the 1960 International League (IL) in home runs (31) and RBI (105). In 1951, as a member of the Daytona Beach Islanders, Joe amassed a 36-game hitting streak which stood as the Florida State League record until Harold Garcia's 37-gamer for the Clearwater Threshers in 2010. In between, he played winter baseball in three non-consecutive seasons of in Venezuela.
In 1966, Altobelli began an 11-year apprenticeship as a manager in the Baltimore farm system, culminating in six seasons (from 1971 to 1976) managing the IL Rochester Red Wings. His first major league managerial assignment began when the San Francisco Giants hired him to succeed Bill Rigney, on October 7, 1976. Altobelli then joined the New York Yankees as manager of their AAA farm team, the Columbus Clippers.
In 1980, Joe became a Yankees coach, from 1981 to 1982, working under managers Gene Michael, Bob Lemon, and Clyde King. Before the 1983 season, the Orioles named Altobelli as successor to Earl Weaver, following Weaver’s 14 1⁄2-season career as Baltimore's manager. Jim Palmer said that Altobelli was "very compassionate and sensitive compared to most managers" unlike Weaver who "isn't all that compassionate and sensitive even compared to most chain gang wardens." The Altobelli-led team posted 98 wins, winning the AL East championship, then bested the Chicago White Sox, three games to one, in the American League Championship Series (ALCS). The Orioles then decimated the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1983 World Series, winning in five games.
After leaving the Orioles, Joe returned to coaching, working with the Yankees again (from 1986 to 1987), serving next under Don Zimmer with the Chicago Cubs from 1988 to 1991. In 2009, Altobelli ended his involvement in professional baseball, retiring after over a decade as a color commentator for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.
Altobelli has been referred to as Rochester's "Mr. Baseball." His number 26 has been retired by the Rochester Red Wings team, he was an inaugural inductee into the Red Wings Hall of Fame, and in 2010 a statue of Altobelli was installed on the Frontier Field concourse, which included a plaque noting he is the only man to have been a player, coach, manager, and general manager of the team.
In 2008, he was elected to the International League Hall of Fame.
Joe Altobelli is part of the MLB Managers Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Joe is also part of the Cleveland Indians Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Joe is also part of the New York/SF Giants Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
See all Joe’s baseball cards at TCDB
Visit a random Italian American MLB player: