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Anthony Michael "Tony" Lazzeri (December 6, 1903 — August 6, 1946) was an American Major League Baseball player during the 1920s and 1930s, predominantly with the New York Yankees. The native of San Francisco, California, 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).
He entered the major leagues in 1926 as a member of the New York Yankees. In his rookie season he belted 18 homers and drove home 114 RBI, impressive numbers which would become his annual trend. As a member of the Yankees until 1937, he averaged 79 runs, 14 home runs, 96 RBI 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 time 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).
After the Yankees released Lazzeri following the 1937 season, Lazzeri signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1938 but saw minimal playing time. The Cubs won the National League championship and Lazzeri got to face his old team in the World Series. Any hopes of sweet payback, however, were squashed as the Yankees swept the series.
After brief stints with the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants in 1939, Lazzeri retired. 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. He finished his career with a .292 batting average, 986 runs, 178 home runs, 1191 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 (which he did 4 times).
Lazzeri holds the American League record for most RBI in a game with 11, set May 24 1936. That same day he became the first major league player to hit two grand slams in one game. He holds the major league record of 15 runs-batted-in 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. Both consecutive-game home run records still have a share of the 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 Pirates (eight in 1947). Lazzari 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. Lazzeri's "cycle" has often been overlooked because of Lou Gehrig"s hitting 4 home runs in one game that day and by John McGraw's retirement as N.Y. Giant manager that same day.
In an article in 1976 in Esquire magazine, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter", consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Lazzeri was the second baseman on Stein's Italian team.
Lazzeri died at age 42 from a fall caused, according to the coroner, by a heart attack. in his Millbrae, California, home. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Many believe Lazzeri's fall was actually caused by an epileptic seizure rather than a heart attack.
- Batters with two grand slams in the same baseball game
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- List of Major League Baseball players with 100 triples
- List of Major League Baseball RBI Records
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- Hitting for the cycle
- Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game
- Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame
- List of members of the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame
- ↑ Hitting for the Cycle Records by Baseball Almanac at www.baseball-almanac.com
- ↑ New York Times Tony Lazzeri Obituary at www.baseball-almanac.com
- ↑ Tony Lazzeri by Paul Votano at www.googlebooks.com
- ↑ BR Bullpen entry for Tony Lazzeri at www.baseball-reference.com
- ↑ How Stuff Works entry at entertainment.howstuffworks.com