Tony Lazzeri

Anthony Michael Lazzeri
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1991
Primary team: New York Yankees
Primary position: 2nd Baseman

"(Tony) not only was a great ballplayer, he was a great man," Yankees shortstop Frankie Crosetti. "He was a leader. He was like a manager on the field."

Arguably the top second baseman in New York Yankees history, Tony Lazzeri played for the franchise's six American League pennant winners from 1926 through ’37, batting .293 with 115 home runs during his 12 seasons in pinstripes. Lazzeri, though, temporarily quit baseball in 1923, when as a 19-year-old he grew disillusioned with being shuttled back and forth between minor league posts. He secured regular play with Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1924, and with the same club in ’25 the San Francisco native enjoyed a season for the ages, batting a robust .355 while setting PCL records that still stand with 60 home runs, 222 RBIs and 202 runs scored. Lazzeri played in 197 games that year.

The Yankees parted with $50,000 (though some accounts go as high as $75,000) and three players to acquire Lazzeri in August 1925, and the 22-year-old rewarded them instantly with a fine rookie season in ’26. He belted 18 home runs, a total he would match three other times but never surpass, while holding down the keystone and finishing 10th in MVP balloting. New York lost a taut 1926 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, with Lazzeri batting 5-for-26 (.192) and coming up empty with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning of Game Seven. Lazzeri struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch from future Hall of Fame right-hander Grover Cleveland Alexander, 39 at the time. Alexander's heroics preserved the Cardinals' Series-clinching win by a score of 3-2, though he just as easily could have found himself on the losing end. One pitch earlier Lazzeri had launched a ball out of Yankee Stadium—but just foul.

Lazzeri secured some measure of redemption by playing well in his next five World Series appearances, batting .291, slugging .494 and belting four home runs in 79 at-bats. The Yankees won all five Series in convincing fashion, dispatching the Pittsburgh Pirates (1927), Cardinals (’28), Chicago Cubs (’32) and New York Giants (’36 and ’37). Lazzeri closed out his career with partial seasons for the Cubs in 1938 and the Brooklyn Dodgers and Giants in ’39. He fell off the baseball writers' Hall of Fame ballot in 1962 after 15 years, finally gaining election via the veteran's committee in 1991.

"Around New York I used to hear that expression, 'Once a Dodger, always a Dodger.,'" Lazzeri said. "But how about, 'Once a Yankee, always a Yankee? There never was anything better than that. You never get over it."

"Around New York I used to hear that expression, 'Once a Dodger, always a Dodger.' But how about, 'Once a Yankee, always a Yankee? There never was anything better than that. You never get over it. "
Tony Lazzeri

Career stats

ESSENTIAL STATS
Year Inducted: 1991
Primary Team: New York Yankees
Position Played: 2nd Baseman
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: San Francisco, California
Birth year: 1903
Died: 1946, San Francisco, California
Played for:
New York Yankees (1926-1937)
Chicago Cubs (1938)
Brooklyn Dodgers (1939)
New York Giants (1939)
CAREER AT A GLANCE
GamesG
1740
At BatsAB
6297
RunsR
986
HitsH
1840
Doubles2B
334
Triples3B
115
Home RunsHR
178
RBIRBI
1191
Stolen BasesSB
148
WalksBB
869
Batting AverageBA
.292
OPSOPS
.846
On Base %OBP
.380
Slugging %SLG
.467