Reds sell Lombardi’s contract to Braves
Digital Preservation Project
Following Lombardi’s 1942 season with the Braves, he held out for a higher salary as the 1943 season approached. The Giants – faced with the loss of stars like Johnny Mize and Harry Danning to the military – then swung a deal for Lombardi, sending catching prospect Hugh Poland and infielder Connie Ryan to the Braves on April 27, 1943.
“What an arm,” said Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio of Lombardi, whose Reds fell to the DiMaggio’s Yankees in the 1939 World Series. “He could throw a guy out at second sitting on his haunches.”
Lombardi continued his stellar hitting with the Giants throughout the war years, hitting .305 in 1943 and .307 in 1945, adding 19 home runs and 70 RBI in the latter season when he was 37 years old. He spent all of his time at catcher, never appearing at any other position in his 1,544 games in the field.
Using an interlocking batting grip similar to one used by golfers, Lombardi struck out only 262 times in his career – an average of about 15 per season – and never fanned more than 25 times in any one year.
Following his release from the Giants late in the 1947 season, Lombardi played the 1948 season in the Pacific Coast League, logging time with manager Casey Stengel’s Oakland Oaks before his career came to a close.
He passed away on Sept. 26, 1977 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum