*Italian Heritage Doubtful/Unlikely
Card: 1996 Topps #37
The moment: Game One of the 1996 American League Championship Series, bottom of the eighth inning, Yankees trailing their AL East rivals, the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3, with rookie phenom shortstop Derek Jeter at the plate.
“In right field, Tarasco going back to the track, to the wall … and what happens here? He contends that a fan reaches up and touches it, but Richie Garcia says, ‘No!’ it’s a home run,” Bob Costas shouted through the broadcast microphone over a raucous Yankee Stadium crowd.
Because of this one moment, Hall of Famer Jeter and journeyman outfielder Tony Tarasco will always be linked in baseball history. The reality, though, is that Jeter would enjoy a long career with many more postseason triumphs, more than all but a handful of players who have ever lived. Tarasco had only two postseason at-bats, and struck out in both of them, once for the Braves in 1993 and once for the Orioles in 1996.
Anthony Giacinto Tarasco (born December 9, 1970), said to be of Trinidadian and Italian descent, is an American professional baseball outfielder and coach for the New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB). Over 8 years, he played for the Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Yankees between 1993 and 1999 and for the Mets in 2002. He also played with the Hanshin Tigers in the Japanese Central League in 2000.
Tony was born at Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in New York City's Greenwich Village and, until he was 6 or 7 years old, lived in Washington Heights and the Bronx. His father, Jack, worked a summer job as a vendor at Yankee Stadium. At 13 years old, after moving to Santa Monica, California, Tony joined the Santa Monica Graveyard Crips, a subset of the Crips street gang. At 16 years old, with the encouragement of fellow Crips members, he left the gang to focus on playing high school baseball.
Tony was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 15th round of the 1988 Major League Baseball draft out of Santa Monica High School.
Tarasco was involved in the above controversial play in the 1996 American League Championship Series while playing right field for the Baltimore Orioles. While fielding a fly ball hit by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, 12-year-old fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and caught the ball. The umpires called a home run, although the correct call was fan interference. The play was the turning point in the series, which the Yankees won.
Tarasco spent the remainder of his career as a part time player, often shuttling between the major and minor leagues. Interestingly, Tony and Jeter were teammates for a short time during the 1999 season.
In June 2002, his New York Mets teammate Mark Corey suffered a seizure after the two players smoked marijuana outside of Shea Stadium. Under Major League Baseball drug policy at the time, because both players were first-time offenders, they were not subject to discipline from the league.
After retiring, Tarasco began working for the Washington Nationals in or around 2005 as a minor league coordinator and in 2013 as a first base and outfield coach. On December 30, 2020, Tarasco was hired to be the first base coach for the New York Mets replacing Tony DeFrancesco.
He is a cousin of MLB shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
Tony is part of the New York City Born Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Tony is also part of the Cincinnati Reds Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Tony is part of the New York Yankee Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
Tony is also part of the Braves Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
*Tony is the last stop on the Italian Ancestry Unsure/Doubtful Tour – return Home
See Tarasco’s baseball cards at TCDB
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