Monday, September 27, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Ernie Lombardi


The player: Ernie Lombardi was a fan favorite in the 1930s and 1940s. The big catcher was the slowest player in baseball (holds the record for the highest GIDP percentage) but was a terrific hitter, twice winning the NL batting crown. In 1,853 games, he hit .306 with with 190 HR and 990 RBI for Brooklyn, Cincinnati, the Braves and the Giants. He became, unfairly, known for a play in the tenth inning of the fourth game of the 1939 World Series, when Joe DiMaggio hit a two-run single, then scored when Lombardozzi lay injured after a collision with Charlie Keller, who scored the second run. The Yankees already led the series 3-0, and the run was meaningless in a game the Yankees won 7-4, but for the rest of his life Ernie would hear about "Lombardi's Snooze". More positively, Lombardi was the catcher for Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters in 1938.

The man: In 1940, Lombardi's backup, Willard Hershberger, distraught over playing poorly while Lombardi was hurt, slit his throat in his hotel room, to this day the only suicide by an active ballplayer. Lombardi slit hit own throat in a suicide attempt in 1953, and battled depression throughout his life. Lombardi spent some time in a private sanitarium after his suicide attempt, and later worked as a gas station attendant and in the press box at Candelstick Park. He died in 1977.

My collection: I do not have any playing days cards of Lombardi. His last card as an active major leaguer was in the 1947 Tip Top set (he had a minor league card with the Oakland Oaks in 1948).

1 comment:

  1. That whole "snooze" thing was just terrible. People these days forget and/or don't realize how vicious reporters could be back then. Never heard about Hershberger before, that was interesting, but obviously sad as well.