Del Bissonette

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Delphia Louis Bissonette

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Biographical Information[edit]

Born in Maine to French Canadian parents, Del Bissonette grew up between Maine and Quebec, earning comparisons with Babe Ruth as an amateur, as a left-handed pitcher who could swing a mean bat. He first attracted the attention of the New York Yankees as a pitcher in the early 1920s, but a sore arm arm dissuaded them from signing him. He eventually began his professional career as a position player in 1924, with the Binghamton Triplets and York White Roses of the New York-Penn League, where he hit .319 in a combined 114 games. He was back with York in 1925, and then with the Jersey City Skeeters and Rochester Red Wings of the International League in 1926, where he hit .320 with 36 doubles, 15 triples and 14 homers. He followed that with a tremendous season for the Buffalo Bisons in 1927, hitting 46 doubles, 20 triples and 31 homers while collecting 167 RBI.

In 1928, he made his big league debut playing for the Brooklyn Robins and had a great rookie season as the team's starting first baseman, hitting .320 with 25 homers and 106 RBI. He stayed with Brooklyn for the next three seasons, continuing to find success: he hit .281 in 116 games in an injury-shortened season in 1929, then in 1930 hit a whopping .336 with 16 homers and 113 RBI. He hit .290 with 12 homers and 97 RBI in 1931, but suffered a serious injury in spring training in 1932 when he ruptured his Achilles heel. He then suffered a bout of blood poisoning which almost cost him his life and missed the entire season. He was back at the start of the 1933 season, but played only 35 games, hitting .246, before being sent down to the minors in June. He played 102 games with the minor league Baltimore Orioles that season, hitting .276. Bissonette continued to play in the minor leagues until 1938. In 1935, he and fellow French Canadian Gus Dugas led the Montreal Royals to the International League title, although he only hit .280 with 7 homers that year. He was let go after the next season, and had to leave the top minors to play his last two seasons, with the Des Moines Demons of the Western League in 1937 and then the Glace Bay Miners of the Cape Breton Colliery League in 1938, in both instances as a player-manager.

After his playing career ended, Bissonette managed in the minors from 1937 to 1944. He started with Des Moines in 1937, then moved to Glace Bay, who were league champs in 1938. He led the Québec Athlétiques of the outlaw Quebec Provincial League to the championship in 1939. He seemed to be in line to manage the Montreal Royals at that point, but the offer never materialized and instead he returned to the Quebec Provincial League, now part of organized baseball, for 1940. Bissonette began 1941 with Quebec in the Canadian-American League, but was replaced by Roland Gladu, another local favorite. Catching on with the Boston Bees organization, he managed the Bradford Bees to the 1941 PONY League championship, and the Hartford Bees/Hartford Laurels from 1942-1944. Bissonette was a coach for the Boston Braves in 1945 and took over as the club's manager in midseason. He was also a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates coaching staff in 1946. Bissonette returned to the minors with the Portland Pilots in 1947-1948 and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1949. He spent part of the 1951 season managing the Trois-Rivières Royals and made one more appearance, managing Hartford again, in 1952.

Bissonette committed suicide by gunshot on June 9, 1972. He was 72 years old.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1928)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1928 & 1930)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1930)

Preceded by
Bob Coleman
Boston Braves Manager
Succeeded by
Billy Southworth

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1937 Des Moines Demons Western League 57-62 4th St. Louis Browns none
1938 Glace Bay Miners Cape Breton Colliery League 30-21 1st none League Champs
1940 Quebec Athletics Quebec Provincial League 44-35 2nd none Lost in 1st round
1941 Bradford Bees PONY League 60-50 2nd Boston Bees League Champs
1942 Hartford Bees Eastern League 62-78 7th Boston Bees
1943 Hartford Bees Eastern League 77-59 3rd Boston Bees Lost in 1st round
1944 Hartford Laurels Eastern League 99-38 1st Boston Bees Lost in 1st round
1945 Boston Braves National League 25-34 6th Boston Braves replaced Bob Coleman (42-51) on July 31
1947 Portland Pilots New England League 45-80 7th none
1948 Portland Pilots New England League 78-47 3rd Philadelphia Phillies Lost in 1st round
1949 Toronto Maple Leafs International League 80-72 5th Philadelphia Phillies
1951 Trois-Rivières Royals Provincial League 38-56 8th none replaced Al Gardella (10-20) on June 7
1952 Hartford Chiefs Eastern League 59-79 7th Boston Braves

Further Reading[edit]

  • Yves Chartrand: "Delphia-Louis Bissonette", in Gilles Janson, ed.: Dictionnaire des grands oubliés du sport au Québec, 1850-1950, Les éditions du Septentrion, Quebec, QC, 2013, pp. 42-44. ISBN 978-2-89448-725-9

Related Sites[edit]