Ernesto Natali Lombardi
(Schnozz or Bocci)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 230 lb.
- Debut April 15, 1931
- Final Game September 17, 1947
- Born April 6, 1908 in Oakland, CA USA
- Died September 26, 1977 in Santa Cruz, CA USA
Introduction and early career
"He was the best righthanded hitter I ever saw. And he was an exceptional player in every way except running. If he hadn't been so slow, he would have had an even better batting average." - Harry Craft
"You almost come to the conclusion that he was the greatest hitter of all time. Every hit he made . . . was an honest one." - sportswriter Arthur Daley
Ernie Lombardi played seventeen years in the majors and consistently impressed with his bat and throwing arm. He was also famous for his long nose, getting nicknamed "Schnozz", and as he aged he became perhaps the slowest runner in baseball history. He never played any position but catcher in the majors, and caught Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters.
Lombardi began his professional career with the Oakland Oaks at age 18, and was with them for several years, hitting over .360 several times. He also spent some time with Ogden.
Once in the majors, he spent his whole career in the National League, coming up originally with the 1931 Brooklyn Robins. Al Lopez, one year younger, was the first-string catcher for the Robins that year.
With the Reds
The next season, Lombardi was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he was to spend ten years and achieve his greatest fame. He was the 1938 MVP, leading the league in batting, and was named an All Star each year from 1936-40. He played in the 1939 and 1940 World Series - and was involved in the celebrated play in the 1939 World Series called "Ernie's Snooze" when Charlie Keller slid home and perhaps in making contact with Lombardi temporarily knocked him out. Lombardi later said that it was very hot and he was dizzy.
Ernie had a bit of an off-season in 1941 and the Boston Braves bought him for the 1942 season, when he was 34. He won the batting title for them (it would be 70 years until another NL catcher, Buster Posey, would win a batting championship) and was named to the All-Star team again, but was traded in early 1943 to the New York Giants, where he spent his last five major league seasons.
He was named to the All-Star team twice while with the Giants, and even in his last major league season, at age 39, was able to hit .282 and slug .436 for manager Mel Ott.
Major league analysis
As a catcher, Lombardi usually had fewer than 400 at-bats in a season, never reaching 500 in any one year. As a result, he never scored nor drove in 100 runs in any one season. His Adjusted OPS+, however, is exactly the same, 125, as that of Yogi Berra and one point below that of Gabby Hartnett.
The Hall of Fame voters, however, did not give him many votes, with his best percentage being 16.4% of the vote. He finally was elected to the Hall almost a decade after his death.
With the Oakland Oaks and after his playing days
After his last year in the majors, he went to the Oakland Oaks (where he had played prior to coming to the majors) and became one of the legendary "Nine Old Men" who helped manager Casey Stengel lead the team to the pennant. In 2003 he was elected to the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.
In later life he became a press-box attendant at Candlestick Park.
Highlighted in Heroes Behind the Mask as one of the top catchers of all-time.
As of 2007, Lombardi has the 3rd most passed balls in the Modern Era at 152.
- 8-time NL All-Star (1936-1940, 1942, 1943 & 1945)
- NL MVP (1938)
- 2-time NL Batting Average Leader (1938 & 1942)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1939)
- Won a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1940
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1986
|Joe Medwick||Ernie Lombardi||Bucky Walters|
- Tied MLB record by hitting four doubles in a game, May 8, 1935
Principal sources for Ernie Lombardi include newspaper obituaries (OB), government records (VA,CM,CW), Sporting Life (SL), Baseball Digest, The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (1933-1947) (WW), old Baseball Registers (1940-1947;1953) (BR), TSN's Daguerreotypes (1958;1961;1968;1971;1990) (DAG), The Historical Register, The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase(PD), The Baseball Library (BL); various Encyclopediae including The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball by Turkin & Thompson (T&T), MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia (Mac), Total Baseball (TB), The Bill James Historical Abstract (BJ) and The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (LJ); Retrosheet (RS), The Baseball Chronology (BC), Baseball Page (BP), The Baseball Almanac (BA), Baseball Cube (B3), The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903-1957 by Dennis Snelling, The Historical Register, compiled by Bob Hoie & Carlos Bauer, The Biographical Encyclopedia: Baseball by the Editors of Total Baseball and The New Biographical History of Baseball by Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella and obituaries at deadballera.com (DBE) as well as research by Reed Howard (RH), Pat Doyle (PD) and Frank Hamilton (FH).
- Joe Wancho: "Ernie Lombardi", in Bill Nowlin, ed.: Van Lingle Mungo: The Man, The Song, The Players, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 231-235. ISBN 978-1-933599-76-2
- Ernie Lombardi at the SABR Bio Project
- For a more complete story, see Bio at Baseball Page
- Ernie Lombardi at the Hall of Fame
- Ernie Lombardi at the Baseball Encyclopedia of Catchers
- Ernie Lombardi at wikipedia
- Ernie Lombardi at Historic Baseball
- The Baseball Chronology for Ernie Lombardi
- Also see obituary at Ernie Lombardi obituary
- and a full Bibliography from SABR's The Baseball Index (TBI)