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John "Pretzel" Pezzullo (b. December 10, 1910 Bridgeport, CT – d. May 16, 1990 in Dallas, TX), also known as "Pretzels Pezullo", was a professional baseball player whose career spanned eight seasons, two of which were spent with the Major League Baseball (MLB) Philadelphia Phillies in 1935 and 1936. Pezzullo, a pitcher, compiled an earned run average (ERA) of 6.36, allowing 61 earned runs off of 116 hits, five home runs, and 51 walks while recording 24 strikeouts over 86 1⁄3 innings pitched.
John also played in six seasons of minor league baseball. He made his MLB debut at the age of 24 after spending a season in the minor leagues for the New York Giants organization. He earned the nicknamed "Pretzel" after his unusual contorted pitching style. He began it with a high leg kick then he would drop down with a side arm delivery, totally confusing the hitter.
John had four siblings and is of Italian ancestry. He attended school until the eighth grade, after which he went to trade school to learn cabinet and pattern making.
Pretzel began his professional baseball career in 1934, when he played for the Richmond Colts, an affiliate of the New York Giants. Pezzullo finished the season fifth in the Piedmont League in wins, with 16, while finishing fourth on the Colts in games pitched, appearing in 27 games over the season. He was called "a good pitching prospect" by Chicago Tribune sports writer Arch Ward.
On November 1 of that year, Pezzullo was traded as a part of a four-man deal that sent him, Blondy Ryan, Johnny Vergez, George Watkins, and cash to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Dick Bartell.
For the 1935 season, Pezzullo, pitched for the major-league Philadelphia Phillies, recorded a team-worst ERA of 6.40, along with a 3–W/L record over 40 games pitched. He hit seven batters by a pitch, tying him for the seventh most hit batsmen in MLB. He pitched his only game of 1936 and the last game of his MLB career on April 15, 1936. It was the same day that Lefty Bertrand pitched his only game of the season and the only game of his career.
Pezzullo also played for two minor league teams during the 1936 season: the Richmond Colts and the Hazleton Mountaineers. The following season he played for the Savannah Indians and the Colts. The following season, he played only for the Indians, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. His 26 wins were best in the Southern League, while his 288 innings pitched also led all Southern League players.
In a game against the Spartanburg Spartans, Pezzullo struck out 17 batters. After the season, he was sold to the double-A Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League, where, under managers Tony Lazzeri and Jack Burns, Pezzullo won 11 games and lost 12. He went 5–16 the following year, before leaving the team for the Syracuse Chiefs and the Buffalo Bisons in his final year of professional baseball in 1941.
After retiring from baseball, Pezzullo moved to Dallas, Texas, where he worked designing aircraft missile models and founded Gulf Industries, a Grand Prairie-based model subcontracting firm. He died on May 16, 1990, of cancer.
This player has no additional cards on Baseball Amore.
John Pezzulo is part of the Philadelphia Phillies Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
“Pretzel” is part of the Great Italian American Player Nicknames Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Pretzel has NO baseball cards at TCDB
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