From BR Bullpen
Italy is a country located in south-central Europe on the Italian peninsula.
Italy has long had an interest in baseball. The national baseball federation is called the Federazione Italiana Baseball & Softball. Serie A1 is the top league in the country and has featured dozens of former major league players.
Although few major leaguers have been born in Italy, a great many major leaguers of Italian ancestry have played in the majors. The most famous is probably Joe DiMaggio. Some players changed their names, so that their Italian ancestry is not obvious - an example is Ping Bodie, born Francesco Stephano Pezzolo.
Italy has produced several minor leaguers in the late 20th and early 21st Century - Davide Anselmi, Andrea Castrì, Mario Chiarini, Francesco Imperiali, Claudio Liverziani, Giuseppe Mazzanti, Alessandro Maestri, Mattia Mercuri, Luca Panerati, Matteo Pizziconi, Davide Rigoli, Alberto Mineo and Luca Martone. In 2011, Alex Liddi became the first homegrown Italian major leaguer. The next year, Maestri became the first homegrown Italian to play in Nippon Pro Baseball (or any of Asia's big 3 leagues for that matter).
 Further Reading
- Lawrence Baldassaro: Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2011.
- Larry Freundlich, ed.: Reaching for the Stars: A Celebration of Italian Americans in Major League Baseball, Ballantine Books, New York, NY, 2003.