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"He (Fred Caligiuri) was 22 years old, ecstatic about his Major League Baseball call-up and his crisp uniform that came with it. 'That first game, I come out dressed up in that suit,' he said. 'I thought I was really something. Here comes a guy down the walk - a big tall fella, with a little hat on. It was Connie Mack, the first time I've ever seen him. He got by me, threw me a ball and said, 'You're pitching today.'" - Fred Caligiuri in The Herald and Review (Chapel Fowler, Years of Stories to Tell, Page D3)
Frederick John Caligiuri (b. October 22, 1918 in West Hickory, PA– d. November 30, 2018 in Charlotte, NC ) was an American pitcher in Major League Baseball who played during 1941 and 1942 for the Philadelphia Athletics. His father, Forton, at age 12, emigrated with two brothers from Cortale, Catanzaro province, in Italy’s Calabria region to the United States in 1908. His mother Bertha was a first-generation Swiss-American, born in northwestern Pennsylvania.
He joined Philadelphia’s Wilmington (Del.) Blue Rocks (Class B, Interstate League) club during the 1940-41 offseason. The Blue Rocks held spring camp near Luray, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. On the trip back to Wilmington in May 1941, the brakes on the team bus failed on a curve. The bus rolled over three times down an embankment and was kept from plunging further only when restrained by trees. Seven players, including Caligiuri, with arm and leg bruises, were slightly hurt. The team, spared, regrouped to open the Interstate League season on schedule; 72 years later Caligiuri remembered how close he and his teammates came to death in a Skyline Drive gorge.
Fred, a late season 1941 call up from the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Inter-State League, had a 1-2 record for the Philadelphia Athletics on September 28th, when he started the second game of a season-finale doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox at Shibe Park in Philly. His opponent was future Hall of Famer and former A's star Lefty Grove. The game lives in baseball history as the one with which Ted Williams completed his .406 season, the first since 1923 in the American League, the first since 1930 in MLB, and the last in the majors.
Williams went 4-for-5 with a home run in the first game, won by the Red Sox, 12-11. In the second game, Fred had a three-run lead when he faced Williams for the first time. Williams singled, then doubled off a speaker in the Shibe Park wall in his next at-bat, but the A's kept picking away at Grove, gone by the 2nd inning, and his successors. Caligiuri retired Williams on a fly to right in his last at bat, did not yield a run until the 9th, and finished with a complete game, six-hit, 7-1 victory in an hour and 21 minutes.
Caligiuri pitched again for the A's in 1942, but with less success: 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in his final 38 games.
On March 15, 1943, Caligiuri entered military service with the Army. He was stationed at New Cumberland Reception Center before being reassigned to Army amphibious operations and served in English Channel transport, then in the Philippines and other parts of the Pacific Theater. Caligiuri was discharged from service in early 1946.
Caligiuri called it a day after the 1946 season. He moved to Knox, Pennsylvania and became business manager of the Chapman Motor Company, later opening his own business - Rimersburg Motor Company – in nearby Rimersburg.
On May 28, 2018, Caligiuri became the Oldest Living MLB Player after Chuck Stevens passed away a couple of months shy of his 100th birthday. He became a centenarian that October but died a little over a month later.
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