Harry Arthur Lavagetto
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 170 lb.
- High School Oakland Technical High School
- Debut April 17, 1934
- Final Game September 28, 1947
- Born December 1, 1912 in Oakland, CA USA
- Died August 10, 1990 in Orinda, CA USA
Cookie Lavagetto was an infielder, mostly at third base, for 14 seasons, ten in the major leagues (1934-1947) and four in the minors (1933 and 1948-1950), losing four years to the military. In his 14-year career, Lavagetto played with only three teams: the Pittsburgh Pirates (1934-1936), the Brooklyn Dodgers (1937-1947) and the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League (1933 and 1948-1950).
A graduate of Technical High School in Oakland, CA, he was signed as an amateur free agent by Bill Hinchman of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1933. He married Mary Katherine Poggi on April 10, 1945 with whom he had two sons, Michael (Brother Xavier of the Christian Brothers) and Ernest.
He made six hits in six consecutive at bats on September 23, 1939. He tied for the National League lead in double plays by a third baseman in 1938 but led in errors twice (1938 & 1940). He was one of Casey Stengel's "Nine Old Men" with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League in 1948.
After his playing career was over, he worked 17 more years in baseball as a player, coach, manager and scout until his retirement in 1967: Dodgers coach (1951-1953); Oakland coach (1954); Washington Senators coach (1955-1957); Senators manager (1957-1960); Minnesota Twins manager (1961); New York Mets coach (1962-1963); San Francisco Giants coach (1964-1967). He became a coach with the original Mets in 1962, and was expected to succeed Casey Stengel as their manager when a false diagnosis of lung cancer and a related operation led him to the Giants in San Francisco, near his family home in Oakland.
He retired in 1967. He later assisted his wife with her therapy equipment business. His hobby was playing golf. Lavagetto died at age 77 at his home in his sleep from a heart attack, survived by his wife and two children, and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in St. Helena, CA.
A dependable regular, Lavagetto's moment of fame came in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series, when he hit a pinch hit double against Bill Bevens of the New York Yankees with two out in the 9th inning, to break up a no-hitter and win the game for the Dodgers in his next-to-last plate appearance in the major leagues. (JK)
- 4-time NL All-Star (1938-1941)
|Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins Manager
- 1936: The Dodgers get Lavagetto and Ralph Birkofer from Pittsburgh in exchange for Ed Brandt on December 4th.
- 1939: Lavagetto goes 6-for-6 in the second game of a doubleheader on September 23rd as the Dodgers trounce the Philadelphia Phillies, 22-4.
- 1947: The Dodgers nip the New York Giants, 9–8, on April 27th for their 5th straight win. Trailing 8–4 in the 7th, the Brooks score two runs on Carl Furillo's homer, add two more in the 8th on Lavagetto's pinch homer and Pete Reiser's double, and win it in the 9th on Eddie Stanky's squeeze bunt. Johnny Mize hits his 6th homer for the Giants.
- 1947: The Dodgers outhit the Pirates, 12 to 4, on May 17th, but the Bucs win, 4–0, behind Fritz Ostermueller. Hank Greenberg's homer off Rube Melton in the 1st inning provides all the scoring until the 8th. Lavagetto has three hits, while Jackie Robinson, Carl Furillo and Bruce Edwards collect a pair. The Dodgers have left 45 runners in five games, one reason they are 1–4 in that span.
- 1947: It was the bottom of the 9th inning at Ebbets Field on October 3rd with the Yankees leading, 2 to 1, behind Bill Bevens, who was only one out away from the first-ever World Series no-hitter. Both managers turned to their benches. After getting the leadoff batter on a long fly, Bevens, who had already given up eight walks, walked Carl Furillo, who was replaced by pinch runner Al Gionfriddo. After Bevens got the second out on a pop foul, with Reiser at the plate, Gionfriddo stole second. Yankee manager Bucky Harris decided Reiser should be walked. The Dodgers manager, Burt Shotton, then sent in Eddie Miksis to run for Reiser, who had hurt his ankle the day before, and called on Lavagetto to bat for Stanky. It was a curious choice. Lavagetto, who was 34 years old and clearly at the end of his career, had batted only 82 times during the season and had only one extra base hit (see above) to show for it. He swung at the first pitch and missed. Dodgers fans moaned for the last time that day. Bevens' next pitch came in high and outside and entered history the same way, following a trajectory just inside the right field line that took it to the wall over the head of Yankee right fielder Tommy Henrich, who misjudged the bounce. The ball caromed off the heel of his glove and dribbled away as Gionfriddo and Miksis sped around the bases. By the time the relay throws reached the plate, both runners had scored and the game was over, a 3-2 Dodger victory. The double that spoiled the no-hitter, won the game and tied the Series, was Lavagetto's last. In his next, and final, major league plate appearance, he popped out in the seventh inning of Game 7, which the Yankees won to capture the Series.
- 1961: Twins manager Lavagetto is given a week's vacation by owner Calvin Griffith on June 6th. Coach Sam Mele temporarily replaces Lavagetto. Lavagetto is fired as manager of the Twins on June 23rd. Mele again takes control of the club.
- 1962: The real darling of the Polo Grounds (albeit an often-booed darling) and the man who epitomized not just the losses, but the way the team lost, was first baseman Marv Throneberry. Stories abound about Throneberry's bungling at bat, in the field, and on the base paths, but the one that best sums up Throneberry, and the Mets, occurred in the first game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, June 17th. The Mets had a runner on first base when Throneberry hit a deep fly to right field and ended up at third base with an apparent triple. However, he was called out on appeal for missing first base on his journey around the bases. Casey Stengel came out to argue - to no avail, of course - and was perturbed by the lack of support he got in the rhubarb from his first-base coach, Lavagetto. On his way back to the dugout, Stengel expressed his disapproval to Lavagetto, who revealed why he had been hesitant to join the argument: "Marv missed second base, too." When the next batter, Charlie Neal, homered, Stengel came out of the dugout and pointed to each of the four bases as Neal made his way around the diamond.
Lavagetto was the first of only two players to end a World Series game with a hit when his team was one out away from losing the game: it was in 1947, as described above. Kirk Gibson was the second such player, in 1988.
Principal sources for Cookie Lavagetto include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (1937-1943;1946) (WW), old Baseball Registers (1940-1947;1951-1953;1955-1967) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.