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leo chalres righetti, 1956 Seattle Rainiers Popcorn Card

Player: Righetti, Leo Charles

Card: 1956 Seattle Rainiers Popcorn Card #NA

Position: 2B/3B/SS/P

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"Crosetti, DiMaggio and Silvera were my heroes," says Leo. "They were all from the Bay Area. Because my mother's friend Lazzeri played for the Yankees, I was going to, too. The Yankees were everything." (Leo Righetti, April 1990, Sports Illustrated)

Leo Charles Righetti was born in San Francisco, CA, but grew up in San Jose. His father, Marco, immigrated to the United States from Italy. His mother, Stella, grew up in San Francisco as a schoolmate and next-door neighbor of Tony Lazzeri, the great Yankee second baseman of the late 1920s and '30s. Leo played for 12 years in the Minor Leagues.

Leo signed a $10,000 contract with the Yankees in 1944. Though he was originally considered an excellent fielding infielder, he was converted to a pitching prospect because of his poor hitting. He was hellbent to succeed and berated himself loudly and angrily when he made a mistake on the field. "I was mad all the time because I wanted to do well," he said. "I broke water coolers, and I absolutely hated umpires."

In 1946. his third pro season, Leo slipped and fell on a soda bottle outside a ballpark in Binghamton, N.Y., and slashed off the tip of his right index finger, ending his career as a pitcher. He remained in the Yankees organization as a shortstop until 1950, when he quit the team.

Righetti worked out for the Milwaukee Braves in spring training of 1952, but did not make the team. When the Braves informed him that they wanted to send him to Class AAA, Leo became angry, and kicked a chair at a Braves team official. He then played in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) for six more seasons before he retired. After retiring from baseball, Leo went to work for his father's tallow business in San Jose.

His son, Dave Righetti, was a major league pitching star and his other son Steve played Minor League baseball. Dave has never broached with his father the subject of Leo's disappointment, but he can sense the emptiness. "I never want to disappoint him. When I saw the movie Field of Dreams, I cried. The guy talks about playing catch with his father and his father not making it. There has always been that emptiness for me. Why was I blessed with this arm? Why did I develop? If only I could give him one game in Yankee Stadium."

(excerpted from Sports Illustrated, BR Bullpen & Wikipedia)


Image from baseball-birthdays


Leo is part of the Born in San Fran/Oakland/Sacramento Tour – Go to the Next Stop

See all of Leo’s baseball cards at TCDB

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