- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 181 lb.
Pierpaolo Illuminati is a former Olympic catcher.
Illuminati debuted in 1990 with his hometown Macareta club, hitting .296/.410/.386 with 38 walks, 46 runs and 15 steals (in 22 tries) in 63 games. In '91, the youngster was 12 for 35 with 8 walks, 3 doubles and a triple. He batted .375/.438/.533 for Macareta in 1992, .281/.395/.397 in 1993 and .341/.425/.481 in 1994. He debuted for the Italian national team in the 1994 Baseball World Cup, going 1 for 6 with a walk as the backup catcher behind Luigi Carrozza.
In '95, Illuminati moved to the Juventus Torino team. He batted .370/.476/.524 with 54 RBI, 18 doubles and 38 walks in 52 contests. In the 1995 Intercontinental Cup, he was 0 for 3 with a walk, backing up Paolo Ceccaroli at first base and serving as the third-team catcher behind Carrozza and Marco Barboni. In the 1995 European Championship, he was 1 for 7 with 3 walks, again backing up Carrozza and Barboni at catcher as well as Francesco Casolari at 1B. Italy won the Silver Medal.
Pierpaolo remained sharp at .358/.475/.560 with 40 walks, 59 RBI and a career-high 7 home runs in 54 games with Torino in 1996. In the 1996 Olympics, he split catching duties with Carrozza for Italy and split first base with Ceccaroli. He was just 2 for 14 in the Atlanta Games. In their 2-1 win over South Korea, he singled in Marco Ubani with the winning run in the 4th off of Dong-hwan Moon. It was one of just two wins for Italy in Atlanta.
The Torino backstop faded a bit to .314/.422/.476 in the 1997 season. He hit .429 and slugged .619 to help Italy win the 1997 European Championship, scoring 10 runs in 6 games; he split catching duties with Carrozza. In the 1997 Intercontinental Cup, he started at catcher ahead of Manuel Gasparri and was 5 for 16 with a double and two walks. He led Italy in both average and OBP.
Illuminati switched clubs in 1998, now playing for Caserta BC. He had a big year at .363/.459/.526 with 39 runs, 40 RBI and 31 walks in 44 contests. In the 1998 Baseball World Cup, he played full-time, splitting catching with Carrozza and first base with Alessandro Flisi. He hit only .172/.286/.172 and had 3 passed balls in 5 games behind the dish. In the Bronze Medal game, he hit 8th and caught for Italy, which was trying to win their first Medal ever at a Baseball World Cup. Illuminati singled off Marvin Zelaya in the 4th inning (his only hit in 3 at-bats for the day) then scored on a hit by Andrea Evangelisti to break a scoreless tie. Nicaragua tied it in the 5th off Diego Ricci, though, and in the 8th scored 4 unearned runs thanks to an error at 1B by Flisi. Illuminati had an error-free day and threw out 1 of 2 attempted base-stealers.
Pierpaolo's production was falling as he entered his late 20s, hitting .285/.377/.380 for Caserta in 1999. He was 1 for 8 with two walks in the 1999 European Championship, splitting catching with Gasparri for Italy, which won the Silver Medal. He was just 2 for 17 with two walks in the 1999 Intercontinental Cup; he also had an error, passed ball and allowed six steals without throwing anyone out. He missed the entire 2000 season. With Caserta in '01, the veteran batted .262/.361/.305, his worst performance to that point. He finished his national team career in the 2001 Baseball World Cup, hitting .235/.300/.294 as their starting backstop and throwing out 4 of 11 base-stealers.
The former Olympian played for Rimini in 2002, hitting .279/.369/.360 with 37 RBI in 53 games. He was 5 for 15 with 2 walks, 3 runs and 2 RBI in the finals, the only time he made it that far; he helped Rimini win the title. In '03, he improved to .298/.447/.376 with 29 walks in 43 games for Rimini. He was 7th in the league in OBP, second to Claudio Liverziani among native-born Italians.
Illuminati's next stop was with Parma. He put up a .230/.413/.254 line in 2004 with 29 walks in 42 games, the sole positive still left in his offensive game. In '05, he had similar numbers - .246/.380/.299, 37 walks in 53 games. He tied Casolari for 4th in the league in walks. In 2006, he hit only .209/.311/.256 for Parma. He ended his career with T&A San Marino in 2007, going only 3 for 20 with a double and a walk as the backup to Dean Rovinelli at first base.
In 748 games in Italy, Illuminati hit .300/.411/.409 with 444 runs, 452 RBI and 444 walks to 321 strikeouts. He fielded .982 and threw out 26.1% of opposing base-stealers. He was 17th in league history (through 2011) in walks, between Alberto D'Auria and Riccardo Luongo. He also played 62 games for the Italian national team.