Posts Tagged ‘Joey Amalfitano’

Colt .45 Biographies: Joey Amalfitano

November 25, 2013

img094

When I heard over the radio that the new Houston Colt .45’s of the National League had taken infielder  Joey Amalfitano as their 38th pick in the October 10, 1961 franchise expansion draft, I remember my first reaction as one burrowed deep in stereotypical phonetics about New York gangsters, Little Italy, Little Caesar, Brooklyn, the Mafia, and television theaters about tough New York kids living in the tenements of disputed street gang territory. – And this was a decade prior to “The Godfather” – back in the days we had to come up with someone other than Robert DiNero or Al Pacino as the face of our “typical New York character.”

Los Angeles Dodger infielder Bob Aspromonte, of course, already had been picked as Houston’s 3rd selection. Bob not only had the Italian surname; he actually hailed from Brooklyn. It’s just that the first name “Joey” rings truer to these ears as a street-wise “paisano” than “Bob’ does.

Somebody finally made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Somebody finally made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Amalfitano was drafted from San Francisco Giants as a guy who originally had signed with their New York predecessors in 1954, four years prior to the franchise’s  transfer to the City By the Sea, but he wasn’t even a New York, having been born in San Pedro, California on January 23, 1934. Raised in that area, Joey had played baseball and graduated from St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, California, before continuing to play as a student at Loyola Maramount University in Los Angeles. When Amalfitano signed with the New York Giants at age 20 on February 2, 1954 as a bonus baby – meaning that he had to be kept on the major league roster to remain protected from future claims by other clubs as a minor leaguer, should he have been signed and immediately assigned to the roster of a Giants farm club.

Joey Amalfitano made his major league game debut on May 2, 1954, but his bonus baby ride that season was little a pines-rubber. Joey made the least of it, going 0 for 5 – and striking out in 4 of those 5 attempts.  He followed with a .227 mark in 1955 in 26 games for the 1955 Giants before getting assigned to the minors in 1956. His versatility at 3rd and 2nd base had been outweighed by a weak bat.

Amalfitano’s improved bat in the minors from 1956 to 1959, including a career best .308 for AAA Toronto in 1959 eventually bought him some more MLB attention. The now San Francisco Giants had released Amalfitano on December 5, 1958, but they drafted him back from Toronto in the November 30, 1959 rule draft in light of his banner offensive year. He then registered two fairly good offensive seasons with the Giants in 1960-61 prior to his post-season ’61 expansion draft by Houston.

In his one season with the original 1962 Houston Colt .45’s, Joey Amalfitano played predominately in 117 games as a 2nd baseman, but he batted only .237 with 1 home run. On November 30, 1962, Houston traded Joey Amalfitano back to San Francisco in exchange for pitcher Dick LeMay and outfielder Manny Mota. (Unfortunately for Houston, they could not hold onto the great future pinch hitter Mota, but would trade him instead prior to the 1963 season for a human strikeout machine named Howie Goss, an outfielder they acquired from Pittsburgh.)

As a personality. Amalfitano always impressed me as  hustling good guy. From that standpoint, and long before anyone here ever fully realized in time what the Colts were getting for him in the Mota deal,  many of us hated to see him go. But go, he did – and he was gone from active play for Houston forever.

Joey saw limited action with the 1963 Giants and was then released and signed by the Chicago Cubs for four more limited seasons of bench duty (1964-67).

Joey Amalfitano retired at age 33 after his July 2, 1967 season release by the Cubs with a career MLB batting average of .234 with 9 home runs. His six minor league seasons (1956-59, 1063, 1966) produced career marks at that lower rung level of a .286 BA and 25 HR.

After several years as an MLB bench coach, Joey Amalfitano managed the Chicago Cubs for almost three full seasons from 1979 to 1981. His career managerial record finished at 182 wins, 245 losses, and a W% of .426.

Joey Amalfitano, age 79, now lives in retirement, but how was he able to finally shut it down? Somebody, perhaps Father Time, himself, must have finally made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.