Card: 1959 Topps #321
Robert Paul Giallombardo (born May 20, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York, USA) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball. He pitched in six games for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 1958 baseball season. Bob was the star pitcher at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn the year after Sandy Koufax graduated from the same school.
Before the 1956 season Giallombardo, a 19-year-old pitcher, was signed as an amateur free agent by the Brooklyn Dodgers. The young lefthander was assigned to the PONY League class D Hornell Dodgers. He went 2-6 in 15 appearances his first year out and was with the Reno Silver Sox in the class C California League in 1957, winning 21 and losing 6 in 219 innings with a 3.08 ERA and made the All-Star team.
The Brooklyn-born lefthander joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in their new home on the West Coast in 1958 after his showing in Reno the season before. While the rush of playing in the major league was an exhilarating experience for the 21-year-old, an even greater high was his first major league victory.
In his fourth start, Giallombardo ran through the Cincinnati Reds lineup, limiting them to two runs in eight-and-a-third innings. Looking back fifty years later, the closing of his first major league victory was a bittersweet event. "I went eight-and-a-third innings and then Clem Labine came in," he recalled. "They hit into a double play and that ended it. As far as I was concerned, they should have never sent me down."
Giallombardo was just starting to come into his own, reducing his ERA from 7.15 to 3.76 over his last 15 innings for the Dodgers. Being that he was only 21, one would have assumed a return to the Dodgers; however, that winter an injury derailed a promising big-league career.
"They sent me back to Montreal in 1958 and then to winter ball in the Dominican Republic," he said. "That is where I hurt my arm. They operated on me right away at the end of the season in 1958. It wasn't the same after that. I had a fastball that used to jump. Once they cut me [open], it wasn't the same. It didn't hurt anymore, but I didn't have it. I was still young, and I didn't have enough experience to learn how to pitch with what I had. I used to get by overpowering guys, but when you are in your senior years in baseball, you learn how to pitch differently, but I didn't have that experience."
After his surgery, Giallombardo played three seasons in the Pacific Coast League with Spokane; however, he never regained the form that propelled his meteoric rise to the major leagues. When the Mets started their franchise in 1962, they wanted to sign the lefty local, but he passed when the offer was well below what he made out West.
The 24-year-old pitcher had spent six years in pro baseball and decided to seek other avenues after the 1961 season. Bob managed the Gil Hodges Bowling Lanes in Brooklyn, sold insurance, then was a supervisor of roofers for the New York Housing Authority for twenty years before retiring in the late 1990s to Waxhaw, a small village some 20 miles south of Charlotte, NC where he passed away in October, 2022.
Giallombardo is part of the New York City Born Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Bob is also part of the LA/Brooklyn Dodgers Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
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