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Joseph Francis Cicero (b. November 18, 1910 in Atlantic City, NJ – d. March 30, 1983 in Clearwater, FL) was an American professional baseball player and scout. He was a backup outfielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics. He set a modern record by going nearly fifteen years between big league hits.
The Atlantic City, New Jersey, native led his Holy Spirit High School football team in scoring in each of his first three years at the school (two of which saw the squad undefeated), led the basketball team in scoring in each of his first three years, and led the baseball team in scoring in each of his first three years. Not only that, he was Clark Gable’s cousin – his mother’s sister was Gable’s mother.
A story in the Atlantic City Press after his death said he played for the high-school varsity team when he was in the seventh and eighth grade, winning the team batting title while in the eighth grade.
He spent most of his 19-year baseball career in minor league baseball, with two brief stops in the major leagues 15 years apart. He signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox when he was only 16, and reached the majors in 1929 with Boston, hitting .312 with a .500 slugging average in just 10 games, an especially impressive accomplishment given that Cicero was the youngest player in the major leagues that season at age 18. The next season, he hit .167 and also lost his youngest player title to Hank Greenberg. After that, he spent the next 14 years in the minors.
A veteran of 36 games with the Boston Red Sox in 1929 and 1930, he swatted a double off Clint Brown of the Cleveland Indians in a game on June 5, 1930, then hung around for another month before returning to the minors. When he made his debut with the Red Sox on September 20, 1929, he was the first player born in the 1910s to appear in a major league game.
In May 1944, while playing for the Newark Bears of the International League, Cicero hit three home runs in a single game, including two grand slams and 10 RBI, to lead his team to a 17–8 victory over the Montreal Royals.
A vision problem prevented Cicero from serving in the military during World War II, and in 1944 he was signed by Philadelphia Athletics. With the shortage of adequate players during World War II, Joe made a surprise return in 1945, going 2-for-3 against Thornton Lee of the Chicago White Sox on May 9th. He saw action in 11 other games with the A's, making his final big league appearance on May 30th.
During the baseball off-season he played semipro football, played winter league baseball in Panama until 1952, and served as a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers between 1953 and 1954. After retiring from baseball. Joe got a civil service job on the Panama canal in security. He worked there for three decades, until his retirement in 1976.
He died in 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, at the age of 72.
Joe is part of the Born in New Jersey Tour – go to the Next Stop
Joe is also part of the Boston Red Sox Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Joe is also part of the Athletics Player Tour – Go To the Next Stop
Cicero has no baseball cards at TCDB
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