Tony Lazzeri

Last updated

Tony Lazzeri
Tony Lazzeri COTA F1257 s1057 it3350 cropped.jpg
Second baseman
Born:(1903-12-06)December 6, 1903
San Francisco, California
Died: August 6, 1946(1946-08-06) (aged 42)
San Francisco, California
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
April 13, 1926, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
June 7, 1939, for the New York Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average .292
Home runs 178
Runs batted in 1,191
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg
Induction 1991
Election MethodVeterans Committee

Anthony Michael Lazzeri (December 6, 1903 – August 6, 1946) was an American professional baseball second baseman during the 1920s and 1930s, predominantly with the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball. He was part of the famed "Murderers' Row" Yankee batting lineup of the late 1920s (most notably the legendary 1927 team), along with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Bob Meusel.


Lazzeri was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He dropped out of school to work with his father as a boilermaker, but at the age of 18, began to play baseball professionally. After playing in minor league baseball from 1922 through 1925, Lazzeri joined the Yankees in 1926. He was a member of the original American League All-Star team in 1933. He was nicknamed "Poosh 'Em Up" by Italian-speaking fans, from a mistranslation of an Italian phrase meaning to "hit it out" (hit a home run).

Lazzeri is one of only 14 major league baseball players to hit for the natural cycle (hitting a single, double, triple and home run in sequence) and the only player to complete a natural cycle with a grand slam. [1] He also holds the American League record for the most RBI in a single game, with 11 on May 24, 1936. In that same 1936 game, he became the first major league player to hit two grand slams in one game. Lazzeri was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1991.

Early life

Lazzeri was born on December 6, 1903, to Augustine and Julia Lazzeri, who had emigrated from Italy. They lived in the Cow Hollow district of San Francisco. Augustine worked as a boilermaker. [2]

At age 15, Lazzeri was expelled from school. He began to work with his father, earning $4.50 a day ($76 in current dollar terms). [2] Lazzeri also played semi-professional baseball and trained to become a prizefighter. [2]

Minor league career

A friend of Lazzeri convinced Duffy Lewis, who managed the Salt Lake City Bees of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), to allow Lazzeri to try out for the team in 1922. Lazzeri made the team, earning $250 a month ($3,819 in current dollar terms) as a utility infielder. He batted .192 in 45 games, and was demoted to the Peoria Tractors of the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League in 1923 to gain more experience. [2]

Lazzeri batted .248 with 14 home runs in 135 games for Peoria, before being recalled to Salt Lake City. Starting at shortstop for the Bees in 1924, Lazzeri batted .285 with 16 home runs. However, Lewis gave the starting shortstop role to Pinky Pittenger, and sent Lazzeri to the Lincoln Links of the Western League, where he batted .329 with 28 home runs in 82 games. [2]

Returning to Salt Lake City under new manager Oscar Vitt in 1925, Lazzeri batted .355 with 60 home runs and 222 runs batted in (RBIs), the most RBIs in professional baseball history. [2] That year he became one of what are today four Pacific Coast League hitters to have had a 30 home runs, 30 stolen bases season, along with Joc Pederson (2014), Frank Demaree (1934), and Lefty O'Doul (1927). [3] Though Salt Lake City had a working agreement with the Chicago Cubs, the Cubs passed on Lazzeri due to his epilepsy. The Cincinnati Reds passed on Lazzeri as well. Bill Essick, a scout for the New York Yankees, convinced Ed Barrow, the Yankees' general manager, to sign Lazzeri. Barrow agreed after receiving confirmatory reports from other scouts, including Ed Holly and Paul Krichell, as well as ensuring that Lazzeri's insurance policy would cover his illness. [2]

New York Yankees

After the 1925 season, Barrow purchased Lazzeri from Salt Lake City in exchange for the rights to Frank Zoeller and Mack Hillis and $50,000 ($728,937 in current dollar terms). Lazzeri signed a contract with the Yankees worth $5,000 ($72,894 in current dollar terms). [2]

1933 baseball card TonyLazzeriGoudeycard.jpg
1933 baseball card

Lazzeri debuted in the major leagues in 1926 as a member of the Yankees. Manager Miller Huggins moved Lazzeri from shortstop to second base. Huggins paired Lazzeri with Mark Koenig, also a rookie, as his double play combination. [2] In his rookie season, playing all 155 games, Lazzeri hit 18 home runs and had 114 RBIs. He finished third in the American League (AL) in home runs behind Babe Ruth and Al Simmons, and tied for third in RBIs with George Burns, trailing only Ruth. [2] The Yankees reached the 1926 World Series, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals. In a bases loaded situation in the seventh inning of the deciding game, Grover Cleveland Alexander struck out Lazzeri to save the series for the Cardinals. [2] [4]

With the 1927 Yankees, known as "Murderer's Row" due to the strength of their batting lineup, Lazzeri batted .309 with 18 home runs and 102 RBIs. He finished third in the AL in home runs, behind only teammates Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The Yankees finished the season with a 110–44 win-loss record, and defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series. [2] [4] Baseball experts solicited by Billy Evans named Lazzeri the consensus best second baseman in the AL. [5] He suffered a muscle injury that threatened to end his season. [6] Nevertheless, Lazzeri returned to the team, and hit a key double off of Alexander in the 1928 World Series, which the Yankees won. [7] Despite the games he missed, Lazzeri tied Joe Judge for third place in Most Valuable Player voting, with the award being won by Mickey Cochrane. [7] [8] [9]

Lazzeri had his career-high batting average of .354 in 1929. He hit two home runs for the Yankees in their 1932 World Series victory. In 1933, Lazzeri was named to appear in the first MLB All-Star Game, representing the AL against the National League (NL). [2] He suffered a knee injury during the 1934 season. [10]

Lazzeri set an AL single-game record on May 24, 1936, when he recorded eleven RBIs. [11] That month, he also set records for most home runs in three consecutive games (6) and four consecutive games (7). [2] He hit a grand slam during the 1936 World Series, only the second grand slam in World Series history. [12] Lazzeri scored the deciding run in the 1937 World Series, as the Yankees defeated the New York Giants. [13]

As a member of the Yankees through 1937, he averaged 79 runs, 14 home runs, 96 RBIs and 12 stolen bases, including seven seasons with over 100 RBI and five seasons batting .300 or higher (including a high of .354 in 1929). During this period, the Yankees won six American League pennants (1926, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936 and 1937) and five World Series championships (1927, 1928, 1932, 1936 and 1937).

Later career

The Yankees released Lazzeri following the 1937 season. [14] He signed with the Cubs as a player-coach for the 1938 season. [15] Though he received little playing time, the Cubs won the NL championship and appeared in the 1938 World Series against the Yankees, which the Yankees won. [2] The Cubs released Lazzeri after the season, and he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers for the 1939 season. [16] However, the Dodgers released him on May 13, after he batted .282 in 14 games. [17] [18] The next day, Lazzeri signed with the New York Giants, to replace George Myatt and Lou Chiozza at third base. [18] Lazzeri received his release on June 7. [19]

Lazzeri then returned to minor league baseball, where he managed the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League for the remainder of the 1939 season [20] and entire 1940 season. He played for the San Francisco Seals of the PCL in 1941, [21] [22] and was released after the season. [23] He played for and managed the Portsmouth Cubs of the Piedmont League in 1942. [2] Lazzeri served as player-manager of the Wilkes-Barre Barons of the Eastern League in 1943, [24] [25] posting a .271 batting average in 58 games. [2] He was asked to resign after the season. [26]

Personal life

Before the 1923 season, Lazzeri married Maye Janes. The couple had one child, David Anthony Lazzeri (1931-2013). [2]


Lazzeri died in 1946 at age 42 from a fall that the coroner said was caused by a heart attack [27] [28] in his Millbrae, California, home. Today, many believe Lazzeri's fall was caused by an epileptic seizure rather than a heart attack. [29]


Although his offensive production was overshadowed by the historic accomplishments of teammates such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, Lazzeri is still considered one of the top hitting second basemen of his era. Koenig considered Lazzeri the team's most valuable player. [7] He finished his career with a .292 batting average, 986 runs, 178 home runs, 1,191 RBI and 148 stolen bases. Despite his hitting 60 home runs in an extended PCL season in 1925, Lazzeri never hit more than 18 home runs in a major league season (a mark he reached four times).

Lazzeri holds the American League record for most RBI in a game with 11, set May 24, 1936, as he also became the first major league player to hit two grand slams in one game. He holds the major league record of 15 RBI in consecutive games (one more than Rudy York in 1946 and Sammy Sosa in 2002). He also set major league records of six home runs in three consecutive games, and seven in four consecutive games. Lazzeri continues to share the consecutive-game American League record, but the three-game record was topped by Shawn Green of the Dodgers (seven in 2002) and the four-game mark was broken by Ralph Kiner of the Pittsburgh Pirates (eight in 1947). Lazzeri is also the only player in major league baseball to hit a natural cycle with the final home run being a grand slam on June 3, 1932. [30]

The Veterans Committee elected Lazzeri to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. [31]

See also

Related Research Articles

Home Run Baker American baseball player

John Franklin "Home Run" Baker was an American professional baseball player. A third baseman, Baker played in Major League Baseball from 1908 to 1922 for the Philadelphia Athletics and New York Yankees. Although he never hit more than a dozen home runs in a season and only hit 93 homers in his career, Baker has been called the "original home run king of the majors".

Murderers Row New York Yankees lineup

Murderers' Row were the baseball teams of the New York Yankees in the late 1920s, widely considered some of the best teams in history. The nickname is in particular describing the first six hitters in the 1927 team lineup: Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri.

Joe Gordon American baseball player, coach, and manager

Joseph Lowell Gordon, nicknamed "Flash" in reference to the comic-book character Flash Gordon, was an American second baseman, coach and manager in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians from 1938 to 1950. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Bill Dickey American baseball player and coach

William Malcolm Dickey was an American professional baseball catcher and manager. He played in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees for 19 seasons. Dickey managed the Yankees as a player-manager in 1946 in his last season as a player.

Alfonso Soriano Dominican baseball player

Alfonso Guilleard Soriano is a Dominican former professional baseball left fielder and second baseman. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, and Washington Nationals, and in Nippon Professional Baseball for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

Dave Kingman American baseball player

David Arthur Kingman, nicknamed "King Kong" and "Sky King", is a former Major League Baseball left fielder, first baseman, third baseman, and designated hitter who was a 3 time MLB All-Star with 442 career home runs and 1,210 RBI in 16 seasons. In his career, Kingman averaged a home run every 15.11 at bats, tied for 14th best all-time.

Bill Mueller American baseball player and coach

William Richard Mueller is an American retired professional baseball third baseman who played in Major League Baseball (MLB). Mueller's MLB playing career was spent with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs (2001–2002), Boston Red Sox (2003–2005), and Los Angeles Dodgers (2006).

Mark Bellhorn American baseball player

Mark Christian Bellhorn is an American former professional baseball infielder. In his ten-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career, Bellhorn was best known for being the starting second baseman for the Boston Red Sox during their 2004 World Series championship season.

Jorge Posada Puerto Rican baseball player

Jorge Rafael Posada Villeta is a Puerto Rican former professional baseball catcher who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees. Posada recorded a .273 batting average, 275 home runs, and 1,065 runs batted in (RBIs) during his career. A switch hitter, Posada was a five-time All-Star, won five Silver Slugger Awards, and was on the roster for four World Series championship teams.

Graig Nettles American professional baseball player, third baseman, coach

Graig Nettles, nicknamed "Puff", is an American former Major League Baseball third baseman. During a 22-year baseball career, he played for the Minnesota Twins (1967–1969), Cleveland Indians (1970–1972), New York Yankees (1973–1983), San Diego Padres (1984–1986), Atlanta Braves (1987), and Montreal Expos (1988).

The 1932 World Series was a four-game sweep by the American League champions New York Yankees over the National League champions Chicago Cubs. By far its most noteworthy moment was Babe Ruth's "called shot" home run, in his 10th and last World Series. It was punctuated by fiery arguments between the two teams, heating up the atmosphere before the World Series even began. A record 13 future Hall of Famers played in this Series, with three other future Hall of Famers also participating: umpire Bill Klem; Yankee's manager Joe McCarthy; and Cubs manager Rogers Hornsby. It was also the first in which both teams wore uniforms with numbers on the backs of the shirts.

Raúl Ibañez American baseball player

Raúl Javier Ibañez is a Cuban-American former professional baseball left fielder in Major League Baseball (MLB) now serving as Senior Vice President of On-Field Operations for MLB. He played 11 of his 19 big league seasons for the Seattle Mariners, while also playing for the Kansas City Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. While primarily a left fielder, Ibañez often saw considerable time as a designated hitter (DH), throughout his career.

Harry Steinfeldt American baseball player

Harry M. Steinfeldt was an American professional baseball player. A third baseman, Steinfeldt played in Major League Baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Rustlers. He batted and threw right-handed.

Frank Demaree American baseball player

Joseph Franklin Demaree born in Winters, California, was an American baseball outfielder. He played all or part of twelve seasons in the majors for the Chicago Cubs, New York Giants (1939–41), Boston Braves (1941–42), St. Louis Cardinals (1943) and St. Louis Browns (1944).

Jake Gibbs American baseball player

Jerry Dean "Jake" Gibbs is a former Major League Baseball player who played for the New York Yankees as a platoon catcher from 1962 to 1971. Although Gibbs was the regular starting catcher for NY in 1967 and '68, he was primarily a back-up for Elston Howard and then Thurman Munson at the tail-end of his career.

The 1932 New York Yankees season was the team's 30th season in New York, and its 32nd season overall. The team finished with a record of 107–47, winning their seventh pennant, finishing 13 games ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics. New York was managed by future Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy. A record nine future Hall of Famers played on the team.

The 1936 New York Yankees season was the team's 34th season in New York and its 36th season overall. The team finished with a record of 102–51, winning their 8th pennant, finishing 19.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they beat the New York Giants in 6 games.

Gleyber Torres Venezuelan baseball infielder

Gleyber David Torres Castro is a Venezuelan professional baseball second baseman and shortstop for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). He made his MLB debut on April 22, 2018.


  1. "Hitting for the Cycle Records by Baseball Almanac". Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Glueckstein, Fred. "Tony Lazzeri". Society of American Baseball Research . Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  3. "Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson joins Pacific Coast League 30/30 club for Albuquerque Isotopes | News | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Retrieved September 6, 2014.
  4. 1 2 The Pittsburgh Press via Google News Archive Search
  5. The Evening Independent via Google News Archive Search
  6. The Miami News via Google News Archive Search
  7. 1 2 3 The Pittsburgh Press via Google News Archive Search
  8. The Evening Independent via Google News Archive Search
  9. "1928 Awards Voting". Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  10. The Pittsburgh Press via Google News Archive Search
  11. "Tony Lazzeri Sets New American League Record By Driving In 11 Runs For Yanks: Hits Three Home Runs And Also Bangs Triple Frank Crosetti Slams Out Two Four-Base Clouts and DiMaggio Drives One Ball Out of Park as New Yorkers Overpower Athletics, 25 to 2". The Hartford Courant. Hartford Courant. Associated Press. May 25, 1936. p. 14. Retrieved September 12, 2013.(subscription required)
  12. The Telegraph-Herald via Google News Archive Search
  13. Lodi News-Sentinel via Google News Archive Search
  14. The Calgary Daily Herald via Google News Archive Search
  15. The Milwaukee Journal via Google News Archive Search
  16. The Milwaukee Sentinel via Google News Archive Search
  17. The Milwaukee Journal via Google News Archive Search
  18. 1 2 The Miami News via Google News Archive Search
  19. The Miami News via Google News Archive Search
  20. "Proquest –". August 21, 1939. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  21. "Proquest –". December 5, 1940. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  22. Ottawa Citizen via Google News Archive Search
  23. San Jose News via Google News Archive Search
  24. The Milwaukee Journal via Google News Archive Search
  25. "Proquest –". May 1, 1943. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  26. "Proquest –". January 11, 1944. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  27. New York Times Tony Lazzeri Obituary at
  28. Tony Lazzeri by Paul Votano at
  29. How Stuff Works entry on Tony Lazzeri at
  30. Hitting for the Cycle Records by Baseball Almanac at
  31. The Pittsburgh Press via Google News Archive Search

Further reading

Preceded by
Babe Herman
Hitting for the cycle
June 3, 1932
Succeeded by
Mickey Cochrane