Card: 1940 Play Ball #108
Born in Houston, Texas, John Costa Rizzo was an outfielder from 1938 to 1942 for the Pirates, Reds, Phillies and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In 1938, Rizzo's rookie season with the Pirates, he ended the season with a .301 batting average and 111 runs batted in. His 167 hits including 31 doubles, nine triples and 23 home runs. Rizzo set a Pirate record for home runs that lasted until Ralph Kiner tied Rizzo with 23 in 1946 and took sole possession with 51 in the 1947 season.
No other rookie would break a team single-season home run record until Pete Alonso of the New York Mets did so in 2019. Johnny held the Pirate rookie record with Kiner until Jason Bay hit 26 in his first season in 2004. The Rookie of the Year Award had not yet been established, but he finished sixth in the balloting for National League Most Valuable Player in his inaugural season, an award won by Ernie Lombardi the Cincinnati Reds. Johnny was third in the National League in runs batted in, fifth in home runs, sixth in runs scored (with 97) and ninth in hits.
Johnny's batting went into a slump in the 1939 season, and the season's bright spot was in the second game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 30, 1939, when he hit nine RBI in a game with two home runs, leading the Pirates to a 14–8 win to salvage a split of the twin bill. He went five-for-six in the game, helping to singlehandedly erase a seven-run Cardinals lead. The nine RBI by Rizzo set a Pirates single game team record that has not been broken since then.
He continued his slump into the 1940 season, hitting for a .261 average in nine games with the Pirates & was traded by the Pirates to the Cincinnati Reds on May 8, 1940 in exchange for outfielder Vince DiMaggio. Between three teams, Rizzo finished the 1940 season with a .283 batting average, 24 home runs and 72 RBI. He finished in third place in the National League for home runs that season. He received three points in voting for the NL's Most Valuable Player that season.
Rizzo enlisted as a Seaman in the United States Navy in December 1942 and never returned to major league baseball.
Johnny is part of the Military Service during Wartime Tour – go to the Next Stop
Johnny is also part of the Pittsburgh Pirates Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
Johnny is part of the LA/Brooklyn Dodgers Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Johnny is also part of the Cincinnati Reds Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Johnny is also part of the Philadelphia Phillies Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
See all of Rizzo’s baseball cards at TCDB
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