Joe Pirrone

From BR Bullpen

Joseph Pirrone
(Father of the Winter League)

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Nightclub owner Joe Pirrone was one of the major leaders of the California Winter League for decades. A local amateur player, he appeared briefly in the minor leagues in the early 1920s. From 1920 through 1945 he organized teams of major-league players and minor-league stars to compete with other local teams and black all-star teams. Some years Pirrone's All-Stars was the only white team in the 2-team California Winter League. His teams, despite having some Hall of Fame and other star talent, usually were no match for the Negro League teams. Players who played for his team included Babe Herman, Bob Meusel, Irish Meusel, Smead Jolley, Fred Haney, Willie Ludolph and Ernie Orsatti.

His squad won just one pennant, in 1941-42, after many of the top Negro Leaguers were no longer coming west. A promoter, owner, manager and player in the California Winter League, Pirrone's building of White Sox Park II (Pirrone Park) in Los Angeles in 1924 helped lead to the Golden Age of the league. Pirrone also recruited both black and white players to come west, with a good deal of success.

Source: "The California Winter League" by William McNeil

Further Reading[edit]

  • Rick Obrand: "The Sandlot Mentors of Los Angeles", in Jean Hastings Ardell and Andy McCue, ed.: Endless Seasons: Baseball in Southern California, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 41, 2011, pp. 23-27.