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Player: Gionfriddo, Al
Card: 1970 Fleer Laughlin World Series #44
“Running! turning! leaping! like little Al Gionfriddo — a baseball player, Doctor, who once did a very great thing.” (novelist Philip Roth, “Portnoy’s Complaint“)
The Red Barber call: “Here’s the pitch, swung on — belted! It’s a long one deep into left center — back goes Gionfriddo! Back- back-back-back-back-back… he makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Ohhh-hooo, Doctor!“
Al Gionfriddo, born in Dysart, Pennsylvania, made his major league debut on September 23, 1944 at the age of 22 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a career .266 hitter whose best year was in 1945 when he hit .284 with 9 triples and 74 runs scored for the Pirates. He played in the majors for four years.
He was acquired by the Brooklyn Dodgers from the Pirates midway through the 1947 season, and is most famous for his heroic catch of a drive off the bat of the New York Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio in Game 6 of the 1947 World Series. The Dodgers led the Yankees 8–5 going into the bottom of the 6th inning when Gionfriddo was brought in as a defensive replacement. Snuffy Stirnweiss and Yogi Berra were on base when DiMaggio drove the ball to the 415 marker. He raced across the field and caught the ball several steps before crashing into the bullpen gate. DiMaggio shook his head and kicked at the dirt in frustration.
At the time, there was no instant replay, and Gionfriddo was widely believed to have robbed DiMaggio of a home run. However, the game film, when developed later, clearly showed Gionfriddo catching the ball several steps shy of the wall, and thus actually robbing DiMaggio of a double or triple instead of a home run. Still photos of the catch contributed to the misconception that it was a potential home run, since the images showed Gionfriddo with his glove behind the bullpen gate, and the ball inside the glove. However, these photos were taken several seconds after the play, when Gionfriddo’s momentum had carried his arm over the gate.
He later managed the Drummondville, Quebec Royals of the Class C Provincial League in 1953. He also spent three years as the General Manager of the Dodgers’ Santa Barbara minor league club, before finally retiring from pro baseball after the 1959 season.
Al is also part of the Pittsburgh Pirates Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
Al is part of the LA/Brooklyn Dodgers Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
See all Al’s baseball cards here
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