Al Gionfriddo passed away in Solvang, California at the age of 81 on
March 14. He was playing golf at Solvang's Alisal course when he collapsed
on the fifth green. "He was an outstanding ballplayer and friend," former
Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda told the newspaper. "He wore the Dodger
uniform proudly, and we're losing a great Dodger."
On October 3, 1947, Al Gionfriddo had been one of those cast in history's
spotlight. He scored for the Brooklyn Dodgers as Yankee hurler Bill Bevens
lost the game and a no-hitter.
But the 5' 6", 165 pound Albert Francis Gionfriddo who played in only 37
games that 1947 season for the Brooklyn Dodgers would have a larger role
in Game Six of the hard fought World Series.
There were 74,065, a World Series record, on hand at Yankee Stadium on a
beautiful day for baseball. Most of them had come to see the home team,
now leading 3 games to 2, wrap up another world championship Allie
Reynolds started for the Yankees against little left-hander Vic Lombardi
for the Dodgers. Neither would be around when the game ended.
"Dem Bums" had made up a 5-4 deficit against reliever Joe Page, taking an
8-5 lead as the game moved to the bottom of the sixth inning. As the
Dodgers took the field Gionfriddo was put in for defensive purposes.
A George Stirnweiss walk, a two out single by Berra set the stage for Joe
DiMaggio - the potential tying run. The Yankee Clipper mashed the first
pitch he saw from Dodger reliever Joe Hatten. Dodger broadcaster Red
Barber shouted:"Back, back, back" as Gionfriddo raced toward the bullpen
railing. He lost his cap, turned, leaped, stuck out his glove. The catch
was made just to the left of the 415-foot. marker in front of a low metal
It was said that the catch was one of the greatest in baseball history. It
was said that the moment was the only time Joe DiMaggio ever showed real
emotion on the ball field. In disbelief as he neared second base, DiMag
shook his head and kicked at the dirt.
The game lasted three hours and 19 minutes. There were a total of 38
players used. Brooklyn hung on to eke out an 8-6 win and force a seventh
game which the Yankees won.
And Gionfriddo? He joined Bill Bevens and Cookie Lavagetto after the
series ended in the distinction of never ever playing in another major
# # #
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
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