Friday, May 8, 2009

Two new firsts

This is an update to this post:

It seems it was mentioned that Alessandro Maestri is the first Italian-born pitcher to be signed by a Major League team. He's not. There have been others: wrote about pitcher Alessandro Maestri as “a rarity in Italian baseball”, because he is the first pitcher from Italian school having reached the American minor leagues. Without this Italian school, however, four Italian boys started to play baseball at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and made it to the pitching mounds of the Major Leagues:

1) Louis Americo Polli was born in 1901 and debuted in 1932 for the Chicago Browns,

2) Julio Bonetti was born in 1911 and debuted in 1937 for the Chicago Cubs,

3) Marino Piereti was born in 1920 and debuted in 1945 for the Washington Senators

4) Rinaldo Joseph Ardizoia was born in 1919 and debuted in 1947 for the New York Yankees.
Two years after this last Italian pitcher, also an Italian infielder debuted in the Majors:

in 1949 Henry Arcado Biasatti played first base in 21 games for the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1922 he was born in a small village in the Italian province of Udine and died in 1996.
It's translated from an Italian site, so we'll forgive them for thinking the Browns played in Chicago. Bastados!!!

Anyhow, it wasn't my screw up, but we do need to present accurate information.

In an effort that shows how the game is spreading internationally, more and more Europeans are making it into professional baseball in the states, joining the Latin and Asian players already there. While very few of them, mostly the Dutch, have made the majors, they are being given the opportunity to play in the minors. We can only hope they make it to the big's, and perform at a high level. That, more than anything else, will help baseball spread.

Two more European players have made it into the minors, each being the first from his country in many years. In the early years, when immigration was still going on at high rates, it wasn't unusual for a player to be born in another country, move to the states, and play major league baseball. Since WWII, this hasn't really happened with the Europeans all that much. But we have hope:
Then there's pitching prospect Alessandro Maestri, who, get this, is with a Major League organization -- the Cubs -- and is actually from Italy. Back in 2006, Maestri was signed by Bill Holmberg, who works for the Cubs and is the talian National Team's pitching coach. Maestri was on the Italian team for the first rendition of the Classic, appearing in two games. He is the first Italian-born pitcher to be signed by a Major League team. After he'd started out as a reliever, the Cubs moved the right-hander into the rotation last year for multiple purposes, to have him work on all of his pitches as well as to see exactly what they had in the 23-year-old. He went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA over 89 innings, getting shut down conservatively when he experienced some shoulder soreness.
There have been lots of hyphenated-Italians to play baseball, but I''m surprised to learn he is the first pitcher. I wouldn't have thought that at all. Then, even better, is the fact that a player at a so-called "skill position" has made it:
The Kotlarka Prague baseball club recently announced that catcher Martin Cervenka has signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians. Korlarka competed
in the second division baseball league in the Czech Republic last year. Cervenka, just 17-years-old, is the first European prospect to sign a professional contract with the Indians organization and will continue to play for Korlarka this upcoming season. The promising backstop hit .214 in six games with the Tegola Titans in the Czech Republic’s top league a year ago.
Catching is hard at any level, but for a Czech player to have mastered the skills well enough to sign a pro contract means he must have some good skills. A lot of people are complaining about the number of Latinos and Asians playing major league baseball right now. I'm sure they'll have the same complaint about the European players. Right?

I don't know why they have a problem with it. Unless they want baseball to be just a localized, American game, played by citizens, then they should be embracing the fact that more and more people around the world are good enough to play pro ball. I don't know about other people, but I'm a Royals fan. We need all the help we can get. I don't care where they were born. I just want them to be good.

1 comment:

el mussol said...

typo alert in 'MY NEW JOB':

Due to some good luck and timing, I have picked up a new job as of today. It's a dream come true, as I get to write a weekly baseball colunm for an on-line baseball magazine.

colunm >> column