Card: 1956 Topps #247
William Florine Sarni (September 19, 1927 – April 15, 1983) was an American professional baseball player who played as a catcher in the Major Leagues. A native of Los Angeles, he played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1951–1952, 1954–1956) and New York Giants (1956).
His professional baseball career began in 1943 at the age of 15 when he played for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. Sarni served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1945 to 1946.
Bill made his major league debut with the Cardinals on May 11, 1951 at the age of 23. Sarni became the Cardinals starting catcher when Del Rice was injured during a play at home plate on June 7, 1954. In 123 games he posted a .300 batting average with 9 home runs and 70 runs batted in. He also led National League catchers with a .996 fielding percentage and 12 double plays. One odd footnote from the 1954 season was a game in St. Louis on July 18 against the Philadelphia Phillies in which, both Sarni and Phillies catcher Stan Lopata played the game without wearing chest protectors because of the intense heat.
The Cardinals traded Rice to the Milwaukee Braves in June 1955 and Sarni became their number one catcher. Although his batting average dipped to .255 in 1955, he was hitting above .300 in early June 1956 when the Cardinals traded him to the New York Giants along with Jackie Brandt, Dick Littlefield and Red Schoendienst for Alvin Dark, Ray Katt, Don Liddle and Whitey Lockman.
Sarni took over as the Giants starting catcher and ended the year leading the league's catchers with 61 assists and 10 double plays. During spring training in 1957 he suffered a heart attack that ended his playing career. He was just 29 years old.
The Giants kept him on by creating a coaching position for him. In 1958 he signed a contract to coach for the Rochester Red Wings in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, then resigned after one season to take up a career selling stocks and bonds for an investment firm.
Sarni died at the age of 55 in Creve Coeur, Missouri.
Sarni is part of the Military Service during Wartime Tour – go to the Next Stop
Bill is also part of the New York/SF Giants Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
Bill is also part of the St. Louis Cardinals Players Tour – Go to the Next Stop
See all Bill’s baseball cards at TCDB
Visit a random Italian American MLB player: