From BR Bullpen
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 176 lb.
Francesco Casolari was a 3-time Olympic outfielder.
Casolari debuted in Italy's top league at the tender age of 14, going 0 for 3 for Anzio in 1980. He allowed four runs in five innings. Three years later, he was back, getting 14 hits in 47 at-bats with five walks and a homer. On the mound, he was 1-3 with a 8.53 ERA, walking 40 in 25 1/3 IP. In 1984, the Anzio native was shelled for 12 runs in six innings for Grosseto.
Casolari hit .229/.351/.333 in 1985 and went 2-6 with a 8.54 ERA and .347 opponent average. In '86, he was 0-2 with an ERA of almost 10 while batting .266/.352/.342. He did not play in Italy in 1987-1988. In 1989, he was in action as a first baseman. He hit .331/.377/.521 that season.
Moving to the outfield in 1990, Casolari batted .342/.446/.525 that year with 15 doubles, 6 homers and 42 RBI in 63 games. On the hill, he was 1-4 with a 5.04 ERA and 46 walks in 50 innings. It would be his last regular action on the mound; while he pitched 16 games in the next 14 years, he would never throw more than four in any year. Overall, he was 6-22 with a 8.31 ERA as a pitcher, allowing an opponent batting line of .324/.464/.489.
Francesco hit .304/.386/.430 for Roma in 1991. After not playing in '92, he hit .327/.393/.490 in 1993 for Roma. Moving to Casserta in '94, he batted .318/.446/.500.
Casolari had a breakthrough year in 1995 at age 29, hitting .400/.506/.735 with 21 doubles, 14 home runs, 40 walks, 61 runs and 67 RBI in 53 games for Nettuno. He led the Serie A1 in RBI that year and was one homer behind leader Jessie Reid. He edged legendary Roberto Bianchi by two for the RBI lead. He also made the Italian national team for the first time. In the 1995 European Championship, the left-hander was 6 for 23 with 2 walks, a double and a homer as Italy got the Bronze Medal. He went 2 for 12 as Italy's DH int he 1995 Intercontinental Cup but both of his hits were homers.
In '96, Francesco's batting line was .423/.521/.856 with 22 doubles, 18 home runs, 67 runs and 76 RBI in 53 games for Torino. He again led the loop in RBI and was presumably among the leaders in average (.034 behind Leonel Moa) and homers (3 behind George Canale). He played for Italy in the 1996 Olympics, hitting .357/.379/.750 with 5 doubles and 2 homers in 7 games. Playing mostly DH, he led Italy in homers, slugging and RBI (9). He drove in 3 and homered in Italy's win over Australia.
Casolari hit .428/.532/.784 with 16 home runs, 68 runs and 82 RBI in 52 games for Caserta in 1997. He was 6 RBI behind leader Luis Martinez and was .024 behind average leader Luis Galindo. In 2015, he was retroactively named MVP for both 1996 and 1997; no MVP had been given out in Italy from 1983-1999. In the 1997 European Championship, he helped Italy take the Gold Medal by batting .476 with 7 runs and 9 RBI. He tied Belgium's Tonny Verhaert for 6th in the event in RBI. He was only 2 for 17 as Italy's primary DH in the 1997 Intercontinental Cup but did draw five walks.
Francesco's batting line in '98 was .358/.480/.622 with Caserta with 38 runs in 36 games. He hit .276/.417/.448 with 6 RBI in 9 games as Italy's main left fielder in the 1998 Baseball World Cup. In 1999, Casolari hit .305/.402/.450 with just 3 homers in 43 games. In the 1999 European Championship, he was 3 for 10 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI for the Bronze Medalists, splitting right field with Daniel Newman.
Casolari hit .390/.520/.721 for Nettuno in 2000 with 17 doubles, 15 home runs, 41 runs, 47 walks and 57 RBI in 48 games. He was 3rd in average behind Claudio Liverziani and Christopher Madonna, second in RBI behind Jim Vatcher and tied for first in homers with Madonna. He was also 6th in runs, led in OBP and walks and was second to Madonna in slugging. He was an obvious choice for Italy's squad in the 2000 Olympics. In the Sydney Games, he was 2 for 11 with 2 walks and a homer, playing DH when Luigi Carrozza was the catcher.
In 2001, Casolari batted .335/.489/.557 with 56 RBI and 46 walks in 52 games for Nettuno. He was third in walks, 5th in OBP and second to Vatcher in RBI at age 35, 21 years after his debut in Italy's top circuit. He batted .269/.472/.423 in the 2001 European Championship in which Italy failed to take a Medal for the first time since the 1960s. He tied for 5th in the tourney with 8 walks and tied for second with 9 runs, behind France's Sylvain Hervieux.
Francesco hit .324/.415/.537 with 44 RBI in 52 games with the '02 Nettuno club. He bombed in the 2002 Intercontinental Cup, eking out a .214/.267/.321 line as Italy's DH with 12 strikeouts in 28 at-bats. In the 2003 Serie A1 campaign, the old-timer batted .257/.383/.419 while playing for his hometown Anzio club (his first time with them in 17 years).
He batted .305/.408/.414 with 2004 Grosseto. Strictly a pinch-hitter in the 2004 Olympics, he went 2 for 4 with a double as Italy's oldest performer. Casolari hit .242/.390/.288 for Grosseto in 2005, with walks being the sole remaining part of his game as he was now 39 years old. He fell to .167/.307/.228 for Nettuno in 2006.
After not playing in 2007-2008, Casolari hit .159/.289/.207 at age 43 for Grosseto in 2009.
Overall, Casolari had batted .319/.429/.527 with 773 RBI in 1,000 games in Italy. He had 636 walks, 246 doubles and 135 home runs. Through 2009, he ranked 9th in Italian annals in homers (right behind David Sheldon) and 9th in RBI (between Alberto D'Auria and Roberto De Franceschi.