- Bats Right, Throws Right
Franco Tavoni was an early star in Italian baseball. He was an outfielder primarily but also played shortstop and catcher.
Tavoni helped Libertas Bologna win the first Italian championship in 1948. In 1952, he was part of the first Italian national team, getting the only hits against Spain. In the 1954 European Championship, he was 1 for 4 as a backup center fielder as Italy won the first European Championship. In 1955, he and catcher Angelo Rizzo became the second and third Italians (after Giulio Glorioso) to be invited by a US major league team. On his two-month visa, he tried out with the Washington Senators and found himself overmatched. He would not appear again for Italy on the international stage. He stayed active in the Italian leagues until 1963, but statistics are only available for his final four seasons (.235/.375/.259, 21 R, 13 RBI in 29 G), when he was in his late 30s. In 2006, he was part of the second class of the Italian Baseball Hall of Fame.