Fats Dantonio

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John James Dantonio

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Biographical Information[edit]

Fats Dantonio, who was born and died in New Orleans, LA, played four years for the New Orleans Pelicans as part of an eleven-year professional career. His career included two years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, 1944 and 1945. His career started when he signed as a 19-year-old amateur free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1938.

The young catcher hit .324 in 349 at-bats in 1938 with the Taft Cardinals of the class D Texas Valley League and came right back in 1939, hitting .355 in a split season affair between the Caruthersville Pilots and New Iberia Cardinals in 111 games. The Cardinals sent Fats to the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1943 and he appeared in 107 games for his home-town New Orleans Pelicans of the Southern Association, hitting .299 along the way.

Dantonio made a good showing for his Pelicans fans in 1944, hitting .327 in 110 games and he made his debut with the Dodgers on September 18th, appearing in three contests and picking up one base hit in seven at-bats. Fats was back with the Dodgers in 1945, appearing in 47 games and managing 33 base-hits in 135 at-bats for a .244 average. This finalized his big league career and he rounded out the season in 9 games with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association.

Fats spent the next two seasons, 1946 and 1947 with the St. Paul club, hitting .306 the first year and .270 in the second. 1948 was his last season in professional baseball and he finished out his eleven-year minor league career in front of his home-town friends, appearing in 79 games and hitting at a .247 clip. He wound up appearing in 855 games with 2,962 at-bats and 889 base-hits for an even .300 minor league career average.

After baseball, he owned and operated the Crown Tavern restaurant and bar in New Orleans for more than 44 years. He died from congestive heart failure on May 19, 1993 in New Orleans. John James Dantonio was 75 years of age.

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