Vito Valentinetti (THE TOPPS COMPANY)

Vito Valentinetti

This article was written by Bruce Harris

Vito Valentinetti (THE TOPPS COMPANY)When it comes to players who pitched for both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, Vito Valentinetti’s name is seldom mentioned. Yet he took the mound for the Mets from 1962-1982 and for the Yankees from 1967-1986. He was paid $20 a day, working roughly 15 minutes. The retired major-leaguer – 108 games from 1954 through 1959 – provided batting practice, throwing 80-100 pitches. On a good day, the right-hander gave up six or seven home runs. On a bad day, when his control was off, he allowed only one or two.1, 2 Always the competitor, Valentinetti joked, “If a guy’s been belting me pretty good, I’ll try to strike him out. I mean, if he’s hit me hard on three or four pitches in a row, I’ll play around with him.”3

Vito John Valentinetti was born September 16, 1928, in West New York, New Jersey, to Giuseppe Valentinetti and Antoinette LoPiccolo. He was the second youngest of seven children (siblings Mary, Ben, Vincenza, Frank, Tina, and Santa). Giuseppe was a barber who owned his own shop. He was also a professional opera (tenor) performer working in smaller community theaters in New York. His mother was a seamstress for a wholesale factory.4

The young Valentinetti grew up a Yankees fan in Manhattan and the Bronx, New York. Joe DiMaggio was his favorite player.5 As an early teen, he played sandlot ball with the Westchester Grays of Castle Hill in the Bronx. He continued playing with the Grays throughout high school and college.6 Between 1943 and 1947, he attended Manhattan Aviation High School. Valentinetti played second base, third base, some outfield, and he pitched. His high school teammate Whitey Ford played first base in addition to pitching, but Valentinetti was the ace of the staff.7 Valentinetti recalled this about former teammate Ford, “We played all four years together. He was a good ballplayer and person. I took him up to the Westchester Grays once to introduce him to our manager, but he didn’t want to play with us. He was already involved with other sandlot teams in Queens [New York].”8 During the years 1944 to 1951, Valentinetti also played semi-pro ball for the West Haven Sailors in Connecticut.

Valentinetti drew the attention of the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants, but opted instead to attend Iona College in New Rochelle, New York on a baseball scholarship. According to the New York Daily News, “[Valentinetti] led the Gaels to winning seasons in every one of his varsity years and capped off his baseball career by throwing the school’s first-ever no-hitter, a 6-1 win over Adelphi in his sophomore year.”9 The lone Adelphi run came courtesy of three Iona errors. He majored in advertising and marketing and graduated in 1951 with a Business Administration degree. In 1986, Valentinetti was inducted into the Iona College Hall of Fame.

On June 6, 1950, the White Sox, acting on the advice of scout Jim Ferrante,10 signed their man. They paid him for $6,000 and sent him to the Waterloo White Hawks in the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa league (Class B). Valentinetti pitched well in his first year of professional ball. He logged 141 innings in 22 games. The six-foot righty struck out 88, walked 43, and finished with a 12-6 record and a 4.02 ERA.

The following year, the White Sox promoted Valentinetti to their Class A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in the Western League. He was 3-2 in eight games, including a one-hitter against Lincoln. He was then drafted into the Army, where he was a private in the Special Services section. He served two years, but remained active playing baseball. He pitched for the Fort Jackson (South Carolina) Golden Arrows, and did well. In his first 47 innings, Valentinetti sported a 0.54 ERA and won four of his first five decisions.11 His overall military record was 21-2,12 including a July 29, 1952 perfect game against Camp Lejeune in which he struck out eight.13

After his military release, the White Sox obtained Valentinetti’s contract in August 1953 from the Memphis Chickasaws, a Double-A affiliate in the Southern Association. He joined the big club in mid-August for a series in Detroit but did not get into a game.14 That season, Valentinetti pitched for the Charleston (West Virginia) Senators of the Triple-A American Association. During the balance of the 1953 season, he appeared in five games, worked a total of 13 innings, struck out nine and posted a 4.16 ERA.15 He lost his only decision on September 6 to the Toledo Sox. In that game, Valentinetti tossed five innings. When he departed, Charleston trailed 3-0. They eventually lost 6-5.16 At the close of the 1953 season, Valentinetti joined the White Sox, this time on the road in Boston, but again he did not see action.17

The 1954 season began with Valentinetti in Tampa, Florida, for spring training with the White Sox. He did not make the trip north. On March 20, he was sent to Memphis. Valentinetti pitched and won the opener, a 5-3, five-hit performance over the New Orleans Pelicans.18 The White Sox recalled him on June 2 and he made his major-league debut on June 24 in the first game of a doubleheader at Comiskey Park against the Yankees. It proved to be an inauspicious start – Valentinetti gave up four hits and six runs. On July 11, the White Sox sent him back to Memphis.19 Two years later, Valentinetti remembered the game. “I pitched one inning and gave up six runs, so my American [earned run] average is 54.00. No wonder I didn’t last.”20

In mid-September 1954, the White Sox recalled Valentinetti,21 but he would not appear again in a major-league game until 1956. By month’s end, he was back with Charleston.22 He spent the 1955 season with the Senators, posting a 9-15 record in 35 games. He completed 10 of the 29 games he started, and finished with a 4.46 ERA.

That winter, Valentinetti played for the Espadón Liquorers in Venezuela’s Occidental League. His manager was former major-leaguer Clem Koshorek. The team lost their first seven games before Valentinetti shut out Cabimas 7-0 on November 9.23

Baseball’s annual Rule V draft occurred on November 27, 1955. Only 10 players were drafted, the lowest number since World War II.24 The Chicago Cubs were the only team to select two players; Valentinetti and Monte Irvin. Cubs manager Stan Hack said, “I don’t know much about Valentinetti. However, he is supposed to have a live arm and he might give us a lift in the bullpen.”25 The move came as a surprise to Valentinetti. He later recalled, “If I couldn’t read a little Spanish, I might not have known I was drafted for several days after it happened last winter. I was pitching in the Venezuelan League when one of the owners told me, ‘You belong to Chicago.’ I thought he meant the White Sox. But the next day I picked up a newspaper and read the Cubs had drafted me.”26

While playing for Espadón, an ugly incident led Valentinetti to become the team’s player-manager. Koshorek held the role, but in a late December game, he bobbled a fly ball in the eighth inning of a game against the Pastora Milkers. The error led to a three-run rally and a come-from-behind 4-2 Pastora win. Bottles were thrown onto the field, but worse, Koshorek was visited in his home by three intruders (professional gamblers) and a fight ensued. Koshorek said he was quitting and returning to the United States. Valentinetti replaced him.27 As it turned out, in January 1956 Valentinetti and Lee Tate were traded to Pastora for pitcher Thornton Kipper, Tulio Barboza, and $1,000.28

Even though Valentinetti was a starting pitcher in the minors, he was assigned to the bullpen in the majors. He made his Cubs debut pitching two scoreless innings in relief during the second game of a doubleheader, April 29, 1956 against the Cincinnati Redlegs. The Redlegs defeated the Cubs, 8-4. His next appearance came in a 17-inning 6-5 loss to the New York Giants at Wrigley Field. Valentinetti contributed two scoreless innings, the 14th and 15th, allowing no hits and one walk. He picked up his first major-league save29 on May 12 at Wrigley during a 14-10 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. In the ninth inning, with two outs, three runs in and two men on base, Valentinetti relieved Jim Davis. He retired Grady Hatton on a fly ball to end the game.

Valentinetti’s first four wins in 1956 all came at the expense of the Philadelphia Phillies, beginning on May 23 at Connie Mack Stadium, when he worked four scoreless innings in relief of Warren Hacker. The second came on June 8 at Wrigley Field. He relieved Bob Kaiser; in five and one-third innings he allowed no runs and three hits. Wins three and four occurred on June 10 and June 15, respectively. After the June 10 game, Edgar Munzel wrote in The Sporting News, “Vito Valentinetti is the new Philly jinx. He beat them twice in their recent series at Wrigley Field and now has three victories over them this year. He has pitched 12 1/3 scoreless innings against them.”30

On June 24, after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader, Valentinetti’s record stood at 5-1. His ERA was 3.06. “[Valentinetti] has done a tremendous job as a relief hurler…” said Munzel.31 Valentinetti credited Cubs pitching coach Dutch Leonard. “Dutch has helped me with a slider, and he’s helped me realize that a relief pitcher has to have control and must be able to get his best pitch over in the clutch.”32

Manager Hack called on Valentinetti to start the July 5 game against the Milwaukee Braves at County Stadium. The righty had previously appeared 23 times in relief for the Cubbies. Valentinetti – who singled twice, his first hits in the majors – took a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning (although neither of his hits figured in the run). With two out, Wes Covington stood at third base. Then came a play that would cost Valentinetti an opportunity for the victory in his first big-league start – and more. With Del Rice at bat, Valentinetti threw a wild pitch. Cubs’ catcher Hobie Landrith retrieved the ball and tossed it to Valentinetti covering the plate. Covington collided with Valentinetti and was safe. The pitcher suffered a torn knee ligament and had to come out of the game. Jim Brosnan relieved and worked the rest of the way (also getting his first big-league hit) as the Cubs won, 7-1.

The injury put Valentinetti out of commission for 19 days.33 Although he tailed off a bit over the remainder of the year, he finished the 1956 season 6-4 with a respectable 3.78 ERA.

Valentinetti played winter ball again in 1956-57, this time for the Ponce Lions in the Puerto Rican league. The team finished last. He and four others were released by the Lions.34

Valentinetti began the 1957 season with the Cubs. But after nine relief appearances, his record was 0-0 with two blown “saves.”35 On May 23, the Cubs traded him and pitcher Jackie Collum to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Don Elston. Bob Scheffing (who’d replaced Hack as Cubs manager after the 1956 season) did not mince words. “Collum was a big disappointment. He couldn’t get the ball over the plate. Valentinetti just couldn’t fool the left handed batters.”36

The Dodgers immediately sent Valentinetti to the Los Angeles Angels, their Triple-A team in the Pacific Coast League. He pitched well. On August 18, his 9-4 record topped the Angels’ pitching staff. Despite that, Valentinetti was traded to the St. Paul Saints in the American Association for pitcher Lee Wheat. However, the deal was canceled since it violated the PCL’s rule against acquisition of players from other Triple-A teams during the last 30 days of the season.”37 On August 24, Los Angeles sold Valentinetti to the Cleveland Indians for an undisclosed amount of cash and a player to be named “as soon as possible.”38 He appeared in 11 games for the Indians, finishing the season with a 2-2 record and a 4.94 ERA in the AL. On September 26, Valentinetti earned his first complete-game victory, a 2-1 road win over the Kansas City Athletics.

For the third consecutive year, Valentinetti played winter ball, this time for the Almendares Blues in the Cuban League. The team was managed by Bobby Bragan. Several of Valentinetti’s Cleveland teammates were also on the Blues, including Russ Nixon, Larry Raines, Joe Caffie, and Dick Brodowski.39 After Almendares signed pitcher Jim Grant, however, Valentinetti was released.40

In late March 1958, the Indians traded Valentinetti and Milt Bolling41 to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Pete Wojey and $20,000. Valentinetti picked up his first win as a Tiger on April 21 against his former White Sox team, working the ninth inning in relief of Frank Lary. It was a 1-1 game when he entered, and the Tigers scored the winning run in the home half of the ninth.

A month later, he made headlines in the Detroit Free Press, “Viva, Vito! He Saves Tigers, 3-2”42 – after earning what would later be credited as his second save in as many games.43 On May 27, he relieved Paul Foytack in the ninth inning of a 2-1 game. “Vito Valentinetti played the rescue role to the hilt for the second straight game, coming out of the bullpen to slip a called third strike past pinch-hitter Gene Stephens after the Red Sox scored once and put runners at second and third.”44 Two days prior, in the second game of a doubleheader, Valentinetti saved a game for Hank Aguirre against the Washington Senators. With the Tigers ahead 6-3, and two men on base, he fanned Jim Lemon to end the game.

Years after retirement, Valentinetti was asked who his favorite teammate was. He answered, “Billy Martin.”45 Martin was also friends with Italian-born Reno Bertoia. Although Valentinetti was included in their small friendship circle, Martin quipped that Valentinetti came “from the other end of Italy.”46 Valentinetti recalled, “Billy Martin and I had at least one other thing in common besides our love of the game. He smoked cigars as I did, that helped us get along! We went out to dinner all the time. He was a great roommate. I remember that Billy never got along with one of our big lefty pitchers. Once, Martin and he came to blows in an alley at our hotel, and I went to see what was going on. I stood between them to break it up and save my favorite teammate from getting hurt.”47

Despite pitching well, the Tigers, in mid-May, optioned Valentinetti and pitcher Joe Presko to Charleston (the West Virginia club in the AA was by then Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate). It did not come as a surprise to Valentinetti. He never liked playing for manager Bill Norman, who’d taken over for Jack Tighe after 49 games. “I was not fond of [Norman]. He wanted to get rid of me. In those days they didn’t hide the fact that you were on the chopping block. You knew when they were out to trade you and didn’t make things easy…Once [Norman] asked me to get on a scale, and I knew my days were numbered. I saw Billy Martin (my roommate) in the distance, and I waved saying, ‘I’ll see you around, Billy,’” Valentinetti said.48

Despite the demotion, he was recalled soon thereafter. Tigers General Manager John McHale called Valentinetti a “real pro.” He explained the move. “We had George Susce and Herman Wehmeier coming in [to relieve] and we had to cut down. Vito was picked to be farmed out. We explained the situation to him. ‘That’s all right, I’ll be back,’ he said. He called the shot.”49

Valentinetti was one of five pitchers who pitched poorly during a 15-0 loss to the Yankees on June 22. He worked 2/3 of an inning, allowing two hits including a two-run Elston Howard home run. Despite a 1-0 record, two saves, and 3.38 ERA, it was his last game as a Tiger. The next day, McHale sent Valentinetti to the Washington Senators in a waiver deal. In return, the Tigers obtained pitcher Al Cicotte.

Valentinetti became a Senator thanks to the recommendation of former manager and Senators scout Chuck Dressen. It was Dressen who urged team president Calvin Griffith to “get Valentinetti if you can,” labeling him “the best prospect out there.”50

On August 4, 1958, the Senators defeated the Phillies 5-4 in Cooperstown at the annual Hall of Fame Game. Pitching in relief of Jim Constable, Valentinetti tossed five scoreless, hitless innings and earned the win.

After Valentinetti made 13 relief appearances for the Senators, manager Cookie Lavagetto moved him into the starting rotation on August 11, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Lavagetto reasoned, “I think I’ll give Vito a chance to start against Boston. I know he has the guts for it. He hasn’t been too bad in relief except he has run out of gas. That could be because he warms up, sits down, warms up, and goes through the whole routine too many times. We’ll see.”51 Valentinetti responded, notching his first win as a Senator (and second of the season). He pitched seven innings in a 6-3 win over Boston. In the seventh inning, he struck out pinch-hitter Ted Williams (hitting .312) looking. Nevertheless, he labeled Williams the toughest hitter he ever faced.52

Valentinetti’s next nine appearances were all starts. That was fine with him. “I’ve always considered myself a starter,” he said. “I was a starter in the minors but I was always pitching relief ball in the majors. I don’t mind relief work but I think I get a better pattern when I’m a starter. You’ve got a lot of time to operate and do the things you want. You can set up a batter better. In relief, the main thing is to get the guy out. You can’t afford to experiment.”53 He went the distance August 15 in Baltimore, allowing one run on five hits as the Senators beat the Orioles, 3-1. He suffered a tough 2-0 loss September 20 at Fenway. He gave up only one hit in the first seven innings, but two walks and a single got him into trouble in the eighth inning. The second hit of the inning, a single by Jackie Jensen, drove in two runners. The Senators managed only four hits off Frank Sullivan, two of them by Valentinetti. One was hit over Williams’ head and off the Green Monster.54

When the 1958 season ended, Valentinetti was 5-6 with a 4.80 ERA. He’d started 10 games and completed two. Despite that record, Lavagetto remained optimistic about the upcoming 1959 season. The skipper felt that with a solid spring and regular work, Valentinetti would be part of the starting rotation.

But from the start, things did not bode well for Valentinetti in 1959. He pulled a muscle in his pitching elbow during spring training against the Athletics.55 A week before the season began, the Senators traded him to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Billy Loes. But when Loes reported to the Senators in Orlando, he said, “I can’t pitch because my arm hurts.”56 Loes was examined by a physician and found to have “an incomplete rupture of the right bicep…He has only a 50-50 chance of pitching effectively again.”57 On April 3, Washington asked Commissioner Ford Frick to void the trade – the second such occurrence in Valentinetti’s career. Loes was back with the Orioles and Valentinetti remained with Washington.

The 1959 season was anything but successful and turned out to be Valentinetti’s last in the big leagues. He appeared in only seven games, started one, and lost the two decisions in which he was involved. In 10 2/3 innings, he allowed 16 hits, 12 earned runs, and walked 10.

During his five seasons in the majors, with five teams, he pitched 257 innings, mostly in relief. Valentinetti completed three of his 15 starts. He compiled a 13-14 lifetime record with three saves and a 4.73 ERA.

In mid-May, Washington optioned Valentinetti and Norm Zauchin to the Miami Marlins, the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in the International League. His performance did not improve. He posted a 1-3 record with a 7.97 ERA.

In August, Miami sold Valentinetti to the Minneapolis Millers, the Red Sox AAA club in the American Association. The Millers were managed by Gene Mauch and featured a young Carl Yastrzemski.58 Valentinetti appeared in 13 games and finished the regular season with a 2-1 record (other stats are lacking).

Valentinetti also competed in the 1959 Little World Series between the Millers (AA champions) and the International League’s champs, the Havana Sugar Kings. The first two games were played in foul weather before small crowds in Minneapolis. As a result, the series moved to Havana. It was a time of political upheaval in Cuba. Valentinetti and a few teammates posed for a photo with Fidel Castro. “As my father remembers it,” said his son Mark, “he and some other players were in the bullpen as Castro entered that way one night. It might have been before or just after they took the picture together that my father recalls: Castro was patting the revolver on his hip and said to us in Spanish, ‘These games are ours.’ They were never comfortable with the state of things in Cuba while they played the series there. They were glad when it was over.”59 The Sugar Kings won the title in seven games.60

Valentinetti’s pitching career came to a close in 1960 after 22 games, split between Miami (nine games) and Portland, Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics in the Pacific Coast League (13 games). Valentinetti recalled, “I was pitching at Portland in ’60 to one of the Alou brothers, a lefty [the Tacoma Giants’ Matty Alou]. I was all set to throw him something down the middle, but in mid-pitch I was thinking I really wanted to throw something that would break away from him. When I threw my arm out to release the ball, I got a pain in my shoulder and back. My brain crossed up my arm. I didn’t pick up a ball for a while. No doctors or experts were around to help. I continued to pitch after some rest but always felt the pain in my shoulder.”61 One of his last and most effective appearances was a three-hit complete-game, seven-inning shutout in August against the St. Paul Bees.

After being unconditionally released following the 1960 season, Valentinetti hoped to land a spot with one of the new AL expansion teams. Nothing materialized. Mark Valentinetti said, “He stopped playing basically due to the fact that no contracts were being offered, and he knew his arm wouldn’t allow him to offer much to a major-league club. Finally, by the fall of 1960 his fifth child was born; and he had to find reliable, steady work.”62

However, when the NL added two teams in 1962, Valentinetti was contacted by the Mets, who invited him to be one of their batting practice pitchers. In addition, he and Joe Black pitched BP for the Cleveland Indians during a July 20-21, 1963 series against the Yankees in New York.63 Some years later, he added regular practice duties for the Yankees. Over the years, he earned modest sums when shares of postseason receipts were awarded.

Valentinetti’s first wife Ann (McCluskey) passed away on the couple’s 28th wedding anniversary in 1979. The couple raised 10 children (Vito Jr., Marie, Anne, Mark, Karen, Robert, Daniel, Joseph, Rosanne, and Joan) in the Bronx and Mt. Vernon, New York. He was married to his second wife, Mary Ann (Jason) since 1987. He had one adult stepson, Andrew.

Following his playing days, Valentinetti worked construction and was a New York City social worker. He also served as an administrative assistant to a New York State Supreme Court judge and as a purchasing agent for the New York State Supreme Court system.

In addition to throwing batting practice for the Mets and Yankees, Valentinetti supplemented his income by occasionally working a second job either nights or weekends. These included tending bar or (for a short time) driving a cab in New York City.

Valentinetti retired from the court in 1995. In the early days of his retirement, he and Mary Ann took many trips to his favorite fishing spots throughout New York State. They also enjoyed dining out, entertaining large family gatherings, and visiting the slots at casinos near and far.

At 92, Valentinetti stayed closer to home in Mount Vernon, with the occasional trip to a local casino. He watched baseball on television (he still followed the Mets and Yankees). His children and their families, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren visited regularly. He still enjoyed a good cigar every day.64

Vito Valentinetti passed away on August 4, 2021, about a month and a half shy of his 93rd birthday.

Last revised: August 6, 2021.

 

Sources

In addition to sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted www.baseball-reference.com and www.retrosheet.org.

 

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Johnny Corradino for his help contacting the Valentinetti family. A special thank you to Mark and Vito Valentinetti for their time and assistance. This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and David Bilmes and fact-checked by Paul Proia.

 

Notes

1 Bob Rubin, “Here’s a Pitcher Who Likes to Give Up Lots of Homers,” The Miami Herald, August 11, 1977: 2D.

2 When he began pitching batting practice in 1962, Valentinetti was paid $20 per session. He was paid $35 by the time he stopped in 1986. Mark Valentinetti emails to author, April 10, 2021 and April 14, 2021 (hereafter as Mark Valentinetti, email 3).

3 “He Throws ‘Watermelons,’” The Jackson Sun (Jackson, Tennessee), July 17, 1973: 15.

4 Mark Valentinetti email to author, April 1, 2021 (hereafter as Mark Valentinetti, email 1).

5 Chris Grant, “Letters from Home Plate,” https://lettersfromhomeplate.com/2017/03/30/vito-valentinetti/.

6 Mark Valentinetti, email 1.

7 For more information about the high school, see C. Paul Rogers III’s Whitey Ford SABR bio: /bioproj/person/whitey-ford/.

8 Mark Valentinetti email 1.

9 “Iona’s Valentinetti No-Hits Adelphi,” New York Daily News, April 23, 1949: 32.

10 Dick Dozier, “In the Wake of the News,” Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1956: F1.

11 “From Service Front,” The Sporting News, June 4, 1952: 40.

12 Ed Prell, “Anyway, White Sox Added More White to Casey’s Hair,” The Sporting News, August 26, 1953: 10.

13 “From Service Front,” The Sporting News, August 13, 1952: 37.

14 “Sox and Braves to Play Spring Game in Florida,” Chicago Tribune, August 19, 1953: F2.

15 Lowell Reidenbaugh, “Total Smallest Since War; Cubs Only Club to Pick Two,” The Sporting News, December 7, 1955: 9, 12.

16 “American Association,” The Sporting News, September 16, 1953: 29-30.

17 Ed Burns, “Jolting of Hub Jinx Helps Solace Chisox,” The Sporting News, September 23, 1953: 6.

18 “Hurth Loop Highlights,” The Sporting News, April 21, 1954: 30.

19 “Sox Send Valentinetti to Memphis on Option,” Chicago Tribune, July 12, 1954: F3.

20 Dick Dozier, “Chisox Vetoed Vito in ’54 – Now He’s a Cub Relief Ace,” The Sporting News, July 18, 1956: 28.

21 “Deals of the Week,” The Sporting News, September 22, 1954: 37.

22 “Transactions,” The Sporting News, September 29, 1954: 56.

23 Olaf F. Dickson, “Valentinetti Halts Gavilanes’ Win Streak at Seven,” The Sporting News, November 23, 1955: 19-20.

24 Lowell Reidenbaugh.

25 Edgar Munzel, “Hack Tabs Irvin Key to Cubs Rise,” The Sporting News, December 7, 1955: 21.

26 Dick Dozier, “In the Wake of the News.”

27 Olaf E. Dickson, “Koshorek Attacked After Game, Quits as Occidental Pilot,” The Sporting News, January 11, 1956: 19.

28 Olaf F. Dickson, “Cards’ Rac Bids for Venezuelan Home Run Mark,” The Sporting News, January 25, 1956: 22.

29 Saves were not a statistic in 1956. They were installed in 1969 and later modified in 1974-75. The “save” was given to Valentinetti years later.

30 Edgar Munzel, “Miksis Gives Cubs Magic Remedy for Headache at Third,” The Sporting News, June 20, 1956: 8.

31 Edgar Munzel, “Weak-Hitting Outfield Still Hobbles Cubs,” The Sporting News, July 18, 1956: 6.

32 Munzel, “Weak-Hitting Outfield Still Hobbles Cubs.”

33 Lew Cornelius, “Braves ‘Flounder’ at Home, Lose 7-1; Drop into Second,” The Capital Times (Madison, WI), July 6, 1956: 11.

34 Pito Alvarez De La Vega, “Pete Zorilla Sells Control of Santurce,” The Sporting News, January 2, 1957: 22.

35 See note 30.

36 Edward Prell, “Elston Adds New Spark to Cubs’ Battery,” Chicago Daily Tribune, June 4, 1957: F2.

37 “Pacific Coast League,” The Sporting News, September 4, 1957: 38.

38 “Angels Sell Valentinetti,” Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1957: Part III, 3.

39 Les Bieberman, “Bragan, as Winter League Pilot, to Get Look at Five New Injuns,” The Sporting News, October 9, 1957: 8.

40 Ruben Rodriguez, “Old Favorite Nelson Aims at HR Mark,” The Sporting News, November 20, 1957: 24.

41 Milt Bolling joined brother Frank Bolling on the Tigers. They had not played on the same team since high school. Hal Middlesworth, “Milt Bolling, Traded to Tigers, Teams with Frank First Time Since School,” The Sporting News, April 9, 1958: 32.

42 Detroit Free Press, May 28, 1958: 23.

43 Jerome Holtzman did not conceive the stat until the following year and it did not become official until 1969.

44 Hal Middlesworth, “Strikes Out Stephens to End Game,” Detroit Free Press, May 28, 1958: 23-24.

45 Chris Grant, “Letters from Home Plate.”

46 Hal Middlesworth, “Tiger Playboys Wear Halos,” Detroit Free Press,” April 27, 1958: E3.

47 Mark Valentinetti, email 1.

48 Mark Valentinetti, email 1.

49 Watson Spoelstra, “Uphill Pull to .500 Mark, Tighe’s Aim on Tiger Trip,” The Sporting News, June 11, 1958: 10.

50 “Reidenbaugh Roundup,” The Sporting News, October 15, 1958: 12.

51 Shirley Povich, “Cookie Finds New Starter, Fireman Vito,” The Sporting News, August 27, 1958: 10.

52 Chris Grant, “Letters from Home Plate.”

53 Shirley Povich.

54 Mark Valentinetti, email 1.

55 “Bunts and Boots,” The Sporting News, March 25, 1959: 25-26.

56 Jim Ellis, “Hats Off…!” The Sporting News, May 6, 1959: 19.

57 “Loes Victim of Arm Trouble; Senators Seek to Void Deal,” The Sporting News, April 8, 1959: 24.

58 Yastrzemski was not on the Millers in 1959. He was added to the roster during the post-season playoffs.

59 Mark Valentinetti email to author, April 1, 2021, email 2.

60 The photo of Castro with the Minneapolis players (Valentinetti is next to Castro, on Castro’s left) as well as a report of the series is documented in: Stewart Thornley, “Minneapolis Millers, 1959 Junior World Series vs. Havana,” https://stewthornley.net/millers_havana.html.

61 Mark Valentinetti email, April 10, 2021.

62 Mark Valentinetti, email 3.

63 Hal Lebovitz, “Indians Look Up at the Calendar; It’s Swoon Time,” The Sporting News, August 3, 1963: 8.

64 Mark Valentinetti, email 1 and email 3.

Full Name

Vito John Valentinetti

Born

September 16, 1928 at West New York, NJ (USA)

Died

August 5, 2021 at Mount Vernon, NY (USA)

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