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A Baseball Story Without Baseball!

Boston Braves in 1948 - Image Credit: Sports Logos/National League

He was born in Italy on February 5, 1913, ironically, the same date as legendary home run king Henry Aaron. 

For the sake of this article, we call him Tony, who later in 1913, along with his father, mother and four sisters, arrived at Ellis Island to what would be their new homeland. In 1924, his dad passed away, leaving his mother as a single parent, raising five children until her death in 1942.

Tony became a citizen in 1937 and had no formal education beyond grammar school but as you read on, you will realize he was an intelligent man despite his lack of education. If you did not know him, you would have wished you did and if you did know him, you appreciated his wit, wisdom and compassion. 

Shortly after the death of his mother, he married and in 1944, was blessed with the birth of his only child, a son who was the “apple of his eye.” 

At some point in the 40’s, in addition to his regular job as a grocery clerk, he landed a part-time job with the Boston Braves. He was befriended by utility infielder Sibby Sisti, and became known to many of the Braves players, coaches, scouts, and others in the organization. 

Sibby Sisti – Image Credit: Society of American Baseball Research

As a favor to a friend, Tony requested a meeting at his home with scout Jeff Jones — to interview his friend’s nephew and arrange a tryout with the Braves. The nephew was offered a tryout and assigned to the team’s Waycross, Georgia facility, where the tryout would take place. To Tony’s dismay, the nephew chose a girlfriend over the tryout and never reported. 

After the 1952 season, the Braves moved to Milwaukee, but because of his full time employment with a firm in Boston, he could not move with the team. 1953 was also the year his son was playing on a “minor” Little League team and Tony was approached by a manager requesting his son to be “moved up” to his team. 

He informed the manager, his son was “not ready,” to make the transition and thanked him for asking. An indication of Tony’s surprising baseball knowledge and savvy. 

The following year, after moving his family from one city to another, his son tried out and was selected for a position on a “major’ Little League team. Tony attended many of his son’s games and at one, noticed his son, who was having difficulty making contact, waving his bat while awaiting the pitch. After the game, he asked his son, what he was doing. His son replied: “Hank Aaron does that so I thought I would do the same.” “Son,” he replied, “you are not Hank Aaron.” 

Hank Aaron – Image Credit: MLB

After his son “graduated” from Little League, Tony was offered a managerial position for the same Little League team for whom his son had played. He accepted the position, and later in addition, to managing a team, became the president of the local Little League. He spent several years in various positions in Little League until his death at the age of 56 in 1969.

Between 1953 and 1969, his son played Little League, Pony, Babe Ruth, and legion baseball but did not want to play high school baseball. Instead, his son chose to play hockey and was the starting goalie for three years. Upon graduation from high school, his son joined the Air Force, received an Honorable Discharge and pursued a career in the construction industry. 

Who was Tony? He was my biggest fan, my best friend, my hero — my Dad, Anthony Louis Ferrara. In retrospect, the smartest man I ever knew. 

And as the tears flowed while writing this article, I remember the man who, while he was alive, I did not appreciate the person he was — an immigrant from Italy, who taught me so much about life… and baseball. 

But as the years pass, I thank God everyday for the blessing of his bearing name and wish every young boy can experience the love and caring I was fortunate to have. 

God Bless You Dad. I love you and miss you. Thank you for being you.

Contact Joe Ferrara – Email: jaferrara@outlook.com

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bill Coppola

    October 20, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    Wonderful story. You were lucky to have him in your life.

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