2016-10-06 / Sports

Some 1,500 played just one game in the majors

baseball historian

“You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you have got to have a lot of little boy in you too.” – Roy Campanella

One of my favorite topics in fol- lowing baseball history is that of looking at the careers of players who played only one game in the majors. You may think that these players did in some areas that would keep them in the minors. That is not always the case.

I examined the career of Rugger Ardizoia who was born in Italy in 1919 and recently passed away in 2015. Depending on how you see it, Rugger was at the right place but just at the wrong time. Being one of only seven Italian natives ever to play in the majors, Ardizoia broke in Coast League at a mere 17 years of age. He pitched for Bellingham, Washington, the next year and the following two years he was with Hollywood of the PCL before being moved in 1941 to the Yankees’ team in the minors, the Newark Bears.

This team was so good that they won the league championship with 100 wins. He went to Kansas City for the remainder of the ’41 season where in the American Association he went 18-21 in that two-year span.

In mid-career his baseball was interrupted by three years of service in WWII. He was in the Air Force in the Pacific Theater, and in Hawaii and Iwo Jima. You have to wonder what his service cost him in terms of his baseball career. I am sure he would have never complained about serving our country as that is the patriotic legacy of “The Greatest Generation.” They fought to keep this great nation free. For that, Mr. Ardizoia, we say, “THANK YOU.”

Coming back in ’46 he went to the PCL again for Hollywood and then in 1947 he pitched one game for the New York Yankees against the St. Louis Browns. He was a 27-year-old rookie trying to break into a World Champion team and it the game 15-5 to the Brownies.

I wonder how many times the Browns ever beat the Yankees. The Yankees had great pitchers on that team and they were not easily to be displaced. Allie Reynolds, Tommy Byrne, Spud Chandler, and Spec Shea were a few of these talented moundsmen. They also had a pretty good young catcher named Yogi Berra. They played at a .630 winning percentage with 97 wins against 57 losses and went on to beat the Dodgers in the World Series.

League. He was playing in the best leagues at the time in the minor leagues. His overall minor league record was a very respectable 123- his playing career with Dallas in the Texas League in 1951. He went 8-3 and was on the team with another one game major league player, Bill Abernathie. Bill, who was trying to break into the lineup with the Indians, pitched only two innings to penetrate a lineup of pitchers like Feller, Lemon, Wynn, and Garcia.

Rinaldo Joseph Ardizoia passed away at age 95 on July 19, 2015, in San Francisco and was the oldest living N.Y. Yankee at the time. He also was one of the oldest living players of the 1,500 who played just one game in the majors.

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