Tony Lazzeri

By: the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Position: Second Baseman
Teams: New York Yankees, 1926-1937; Chicago Cubs, 1938; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1939; New York Giants, 1939

Tony Lazzeri was a hard-hitting second baseman on the great Yankee teams of the 1920s. He received his nickname, “Poosh ’Em Up,” for his habit of getting clutch hits with men on base.

Anthony Michael Lazzeri (1903-1946) was born in San Francisco, and got his start in pro ball in 1922. He hit only .248 at Peoria in 1923, but he also showed good power with 14 homers. The next season, he moved up to Lincoln of the Western League, where he batted .329 with 28 homers.

Tony Lazzeri became the first player to belt 60 home runs in one season.
Tony Lazzeri became the first player to
belt 60 home runs in one season.

He became one of the few players in history to hit 60 home runs in a season when he had 60, with 222 RBI and 202 runs scored, in 197 games for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League in 1925. New York Yankee scout Bill Essick bought Lazzeri from Salt Lake City for $75,000 after the 1925 season.

The 1925 Yankees were disappointing, finishing seventh in the AL in both record and scoring. Manager Miller Huggins, looking to improve his offense for 1926, replaced shortstop Pee Wee Wanninger and second baseman Joe Dugan with Mark Koening and Lazzeri, respectively. That move helped the Yanks score 847 runs in ’26 (Tony had 114 RBI, second in the loop) and presented a powerful lineup to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the fall classic.

With the Series tied at three games each, Redbird hurler Jesse Haines allowed the Yankees to load the bases in the seventh inning of Game 7 with Lazzeri at bat. The Cardinals brought in Pete Alexander, who had pitched complete-game wins in Games 2 and 6. Alexander struck Tony out in one of the most famous pitcher-batter confrontations in Series history. Both Alexander and Lazzeri, curiously, suffered from epilepsy.

Lazzeri had more than 100 RBI seven times from 1926 to 1937 as the Yankees second sacker. He reached the .300 level in five seasons. In 1933, he was chosen as the league’s second baseman in the first All-Star Game.

After Lazzeri fell to a .247 batting average in 1937, and with Joe Gordon waiting in the wings, Yankees owner Jake Ruppert allowed Tony to make his own deal with a team that wanted him. Lazzeri chose the Cubs, and in 1938 he later played in his last World Series as Chicago won the NL flag. He played with both Brooklyn and the Giants in 1939 before ending his major-league career.

He returned to the minor leagues, serving as a player-manager until 1943. Lazzeri suffered from an epileptic seizure and died from the resulting injuries in 1946. He was named by the Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame in 1991.

Here are Tony Lazzeri's major league totals:


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