Player: Fanzone, Carmen
Card: 1973 Topps #139
Fanzone was born in Detroit on August 30, 1941. “My dad’s name was Pat, or Pasquale. He was a tool and die maker. My mother Louise was a homemaker. They were very young when they came over but they were both born in Italy. My family started off in Pennsylvania…but my dad got a job with Ford Motor Company as a tool and die maker and that’s how we moved to Detroit.” Carmen played five seasons in the major leagues, with a peak in 1973 when he posted numbers of .273/.357/.440 for the Chicago Cubs. Carmen was known as the typical borderline “blue-collar” ballplayer.
There is an amusing story about Fanzone’s year of birth. Ballplayers have always wanted to appear younger than they truly were, to have stronger appeal to scouts and on the trade market. Even after he had made the majors, he may have set a record of sorts, as Paul Lukas explained: “His baseball cards for 1973, ’74, and ’75 show three different birth years. This means he stayed the same age for three seasons—a pretty neat trick.”
“The first card had the right year, 1941,” Fanzone told Lukas. “The next season I convinced Topps that that was wrong, and they changed it to 1942. And then I don’t know how I got away with it, but I came up with some other cockeyed story and convinced them that it was ’43.” That year apparently stuck, at least in the baseball record books. But not for Carmen, who went back to his real birthday once his baseball career ended. “As soon as I retired,” he said, “I became two years older.”
He was Player of the Year in 1968 in the Eastern League when he hit .270 with 17 home runs and 75 RBI for the Pittsfield Red Sox. He was an all-star in the International League in 1970 and had a great season for the Tacoma Cubs of the Pacific Coast League in 1971, hitting .327 with 28 homers and 106 RBI. Originally signed by the Boston Red Sox, he made his Major League debut with the Sox in 1970, then was traded to the Cubs for Phil Gagliano after the season.
Fanzone was a capable reserve for the Chicago Cubs in the 1970s. He could play all four infield positions (though he played only one game at shortstop). He also was a very good trumpet player and played the National Anthem before at least one game at Wrigley Field.
He became a jazz musician after his baseball days and a business representative for Professional Musicians Local 47 in Hollywood, CA. His wife, Sue Raney, is a very accomplished and successful jazz vocalist. Watch a great story (00:2:48) about how Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam became a Cubs fan, heard Carmen play the national anthem at his first Cubs game, met him at a fantasy camp, and connected over musicianship.
More recently, television show “Transformers Animated” featured a character named “Carmine Fanzone,” who is the captain of the Detroit Police Department. Reportedly, the real Fanzone had to sign a waiver allowing for his name to be used by the TV series. Even without the TV show, Carmen was quite the character.
Carmen is also part of the Chicago Cubs Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
Carmen is part of the Boston Red Sox Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
See all Fanzone’s baseball cards at TCDB
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