Card: 1941 Play Ball #43 (with Autograph)
Albert “Bronk” Brancato (he did not have a middle name) was born on May 29, 1919, the youngest of seven children of Italian immigrants Giuseppe “Joseph” and Maria Luigia (Tesauro) Brancato, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents arrived in the United States separately in the 1890s and married in Philadelphia in 1900. In the 1910 US census Joseph was listed as a vegetable peddler. He and his wife would eventually own and operate two produce stores in South Philadelphia. He played for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1939 to 1941 and in 1945.
On Bronk’s trying to break into the Majors, Rick Van Blair said in Basbeall Digest “One young infielder from the streets of Philadelphia showed up at Shibe Park in 1938 for a tryout with Connie Mack’s A’s. Al Brancato, coming from a predominately Irish-Italian neighborhood, was used to fighting for what he wanted.
The 17-year-old Brancato had the nerve to actually get into the veterans’ batting cage. ‘I tried to sneak into the batting cage to hit a few,’ recalled Brancato. ‘The veterans yelled at me to get out of there. Then the catcher, Frankie Hayes, tried to push me out of there, so I swung my bat at him. Frankie backed off a little and I got out of there.‘” (Rick Van Blair, Baseball Digest, March 1995, ‘Compared to 1930s, Rookies Have Easier Going Today’, Page 65)
Al signed with the Philadelphia Athletics at age 18 and led the Eastern League in RBIs in 1939. He played third base and shortstop with the Athletics from 1939 to 1941 and was known to have one of the strongest arms in the American League. However, like many on this site, his career in the majors was interrupted by military service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Brancato served in the Pacific theater and played on the Navy’s all-star baseball team, composed of Major League players in military service. While entertaining the troops at the all-star games, Brancato appeared alongside Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Bill Dickey, Tom Ferrick, Bob Feller, and Eddie Collins, Jr.
Al later managed Elmira in Eastern League for the Dodgers and also coached St Josephs College baseball team. He was elected to the South Philadelphia High School Hall of Fame as well as the Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Al is part of the Military Service during Wartime Tour – go to the Next Stop
See all Al’s baseball cards at TCDB
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