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Ernie Lombardi
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Baseball Player
    (April 6, 1908-September 26, 1977)
    Born in Oakland, California
    Catcher for the Brooklyn Robins (1931), Cincinnati Reds (1932-41), Boston Braves (1942) and New York Giants (1943-47)
    .306 career batting average
    190 home runs
    990 RBIs
    Eight-time All-Star (1936-40,1942-43,1945)
    National League MVP (1938)
    Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee (1986)
    He was a notoriously slow baserunner, with one opposing manager saying that he ran like a man carrying a piano – and a man tuning it.
    As of the end of the 2017 season, he still holds the Major League record for grounding out into double plays, once every 25.3 plate appearances.
    He led the NL nine times in passed balls.
    Because he forgot to wear a cup in Game Four of the 1940 World Series, after Yankees right fielder Charlie ‘King Kong’ Keller accidentally kneed Lombardi in the groin while beating out a throw to home, batter Joe DiMaggio was able to round the bases and score while Lombardi lay in a daze only a few feet from the ball.
    Before checking into a sanitarium for depression, he attempted suicide by slashing his throat with a razor (1951).
    His prominent nose got him the nicknames ‘Schnozz’ and ‘the Cyrano of the Iron Mask.’
    In a unique ‘face off,’ he and Jimmy Durante had their noses measured to determine whose was larger. (Answer: Lombardi.)
    He had such a strong arm that Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson considered converting him into a pitcher.
    He twice won the National League batting title (1938,1942).
    He used a 42-ounce bat, the heaviest in the game.
    He was one of the most powerful hitters in baseball, with sportswriter Arthur Daley comparing a ball hit off his bat to ‘a shell leaving a howitzer.’
    Hall of Fame pitcher Carl Hubbell called him the one batter he did not want to face.
    Baseball historian Bill James called his reputation as ‘goat’ of the 1940 World Series ‘absurd,’ noting that the Yankees already held a three games to none lead and that DiMaggio’s run merely made the final score of Game Four 7-4 instead of 6-4.
    He was kept out of the Hall of Fame during his lifetime by a single member of the Veterans Committee, Warren Giles, a former president and general manager of the Reds, who apparently never forgave Lombardi for calling him a ‘cheap bastard’ during contract negotiations.
    The Cincinnati chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America named their award for the Reds’ MVP after him.

Credit: C. Fishel

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