Card: 2000 Vermont Historical Society #17
"He doesn’t look like a pitcher in that he isn’t one of those tall, loose guys who almost stretch to the plate before they release the ball."
As a matter of fact, he’s short and a little jerky delivering the pill. He’s got a pretty good curve, however, and a sneaky fast ball. And what impresses me most is that he’s got a heart. He can get the ball where he wants to in a pinch.
He’s the sort of pitcher who makes the batter hit the pitch he wants him to hit. And such a pitcher is one who can constantly pitch himself out of trouble. (Boston Herald)
Walter O “Walt” Lanfranconi was born in Barre, Vermont on November 9, 1916. His father, Stefano, had been a stone cutter in Switzerland, not far from the town in northern Italy where Battista Polli (father of Lou Polli) had engaged in the same trade. Like the Pollis, Stefano and Gina Lanfranconi emigrated to Vermont so that Stephen could find work in Barre’s granite industry.
After five years of cutting stone in the Green Mountains, Stefano moved his family back to the Swiss Alps when Walter was 18 months old. Why he returned to Switzerland is not entirely clear — by some accounts he was homesick, but by others he inherited property on the Swiss-Italian border. Whatever the case, Stefano came back to Barre after two years in Switzerland. Walt, meanwhile, remained in the Alps with his mother, attending kindergarten and primary schools there. It was not until the future big leaguer was six that he and his mother returned to Vermont.
He was signed by the Chicago Cubs scout Clyde Engle in 1937 and joined the Smiths Falls Beavers of Canadian-American League that season. Lanfranconi was with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1938 and remained with the team until 1941. On September 8, 1941, the Cubs purchased Lanfranconi from the Maple Leafs.
He made his major league debut in relief against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field on September 12, 1941. Twelve days later he made his first start and was beaten, 2-0, by the Cincinnati Reds. In April 1942, the right-hander was purchased from the Cubs by the pennant-contending Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association. It was to be his last pre-war professional season – on October 8, 1942 Walt Lanfranconi enlisted in the US Army.
Corporal Lanfranconi served with the 12th Armored Division and was overseas with the unit in Europe. In May 1945, following the German surrender Corporal Lanfranconi, along with Sergeant Eddie Yount, conducted a highly successful four-day athletic school. Each of the four days of the school was divided into a lecture period in the morning and a period of practical work in teaching and playing games in the afternoon.
Lanfranconi returned to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1946. He was now 29 years old and had missed three seasons. He pitched well and was purchased by the Boston Braves in December. Lanfranconi pitched 36 games for the Braves in 1947. Predominantly a relief pitcher, he posted a 4-4 record and excellent 2.95 earned run average. In one of his best games, he defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-1, in the nightcap of a 4th of July double-header at Shibe Park with 28,580 fans in attendance.
September 7, 1947 was ‘Walt Lanfranconi Day’ at Braves Field. Five hundred hometown fans made the journey to Boston from Barre, Vermont. Former Red Sox player Larry Gardner and Vermont Governor Ernest Gibson presented Lanfranconi with a cherry red Oldsmobile convertible purchased for the occasion by hometown contributions. After the presentation, all of the Braves relievers climbed aboard and Lanfranconi circled the field while the famous Braves’ troubadours played "In My Merry Oldsmobile".
Despite the good numbers, it was to be Lanfranconi’s last season in the majors due to a salary dispute with Boston ownership. He pitched for the Los Angeles Angels in the Pacific Coast League in 1948 and 1949, and ended his career with the Texas League’s Beaumont Exporters in 1953 at the age of 36.
Walt operated a service station in Barre until 1978. Suffering from cancer he passed away at his home on August 18, 1986. He was 69 years old and is buried at Hope Cemetery in Barre.
This player has no additional cards on Baseball Amore.
Walt is part of the Military Service during Wartime Tour – go to the Next Stop
Walt is also part of the Chicago Cubs Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
Walt is also part of the Braves Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
See Walt’s baseball cards at TCDB
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