Gino Cimoli

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Gino Nicholas Cimoli
born Gino Anachlitto Cimoli

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Biographical Information[edit]

With one of baseball's catchiest names, Gino Cimoli was an All-Star in his first full season in the majors and was the first man to come to the plate in a West Coast game.

Born in San Francisco, CA in 1929, Cimoli was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949. Before reaching the majors, he was with the Montreal Royals from 1949 to 1952 and again in 1954 and 1955. He also played for the Fort Worth Cats and St. Paul Saints in the minors.

Gino's first shot with Brooklyn was in 1956, at the age of 26, when he was primarily used defensively. He appeared in 73 games and had 36 at-bats, hitting .111. He appeared just once in that fall's World Series, as a defensive replacement for Sandy Amoros. In 1957, he became a regular outfielder, alongside Duke Snider and Carl Furillo. In the season's opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, he hit a game-winning homer off Robin Roberts in the 12th inning. On the year, he hit .293 with 10 home runs and scored 88 times, and was named to the All-Star team for the only time in his career.

The Dodgers and Cimoli moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1958, and Gino was the leadoff batter on Opening Day against the San Francisco Giants at Seals Stadium. As the first-ever batter in a West Coast big league game, he struck out against pitcher Ruben Gomez. That summer, he had 325 at-bats, hitting .246 with 9 homers. After the season, he was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wally Moon trade (missing out on a Dodgers World Series win the following year).

Cimoli was a regular outfielder for the Cardinals in 1959, on a team that finished seventh in the National League. He hit .279 that season, with 40 doubles and 7 triples, both in the top ten in the league. The Cardinals were willing to trade him, though, and so he found himself in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform in 1960.

Cimoli proved to be an integral part of the World Champion 1960 Pirates. The Pirates intended for Cimoli to fill the role of fourth outfielder behind Bob Skinner, Bill Virdon, and Roberto Clemente. He was good defensively and had the speed to cover center field. And when starting center fielder Bill Virdon slumped early in the season, Cimoli got a chance to platoon in center and provided good offense as well as defense. The platoon lasted until early August when Cimoli temporarily moved to right field to replace an injured Roberto Clemente. By the time of Clemente’s injury on August 5th, Virdon had started 55 games in center and Cimoli had started 46 there while also starting several games in right field. Cimoli was hitting .288 on August 7th, but then slumped. Meanwhile, with Cimoli in right field, Virdon went on a hot streak. With Virdon hitting well and Cimoli slumping, manager Danny Murtaugh handed the center field job to Virdon on a regular basis after Clemente returned to right field after missing a week. Cimoli started only 8 more games in center that year.

The Pirates went to the World Series, and Cimoli was slated to fill a reserve role. But left fielder Bob Skinner injured his thumb in the opening game and was unable to continue. Cimoli entered the game as a defensive replacement in left field in the 8th inning of that game. With Skinner still unable to play, Cimoli played every inning of Games 2 through 6 of the series, batting fifth in the order and playing left field. When Skinner returned for Game 7, Cimoli returned to the bench. With the Pirates trailing the New York Yankees by a score of 7-4 in the bottom of the 8th, Cimoli led off for the Pirates as a pinch-hitter for reliever Roy Face. Cimoli started the inning with a pinch single to right field against Yankee reliever Bobby Shantz. That hit was the beginning of a dramatic five-run rally that temporarily gave the Pirates a 9-7 lead after 8 innings in a game ultimately won 10-9 on Bill Mazeroski's walk-off bottom-of-the-ninth-inning home run. In the Series, Cimoli batted .250 (5 for 20) and tied Mazeroski for the most runs scored by a Pirate (4).

Cimoli only appeared in 21 games for the Pirates in 1961, batting .299, then was traded to the Milwaukee Braves in June for Johnny Logan. The Braves had a trio of sluggers in the outfield - Hank Aaron, Lee Maye, and the first Frank Thomas - so Cimoli, after hitting .197 in 37 games, found himself expendable. The Kansas City Athletics selected him in the 1961 Rule V Draft, and he was a regular for the club in both 1962 and 1963. The first year, he hit .275 with 10 home runs and a league-leading 15 triples. The second year, he hit .263 with 11 triples, which was fourth in the league.

Cimoli was released by the A's early in the 1964 season, going hitless in 9 at-bats. He caught on with the Baltimore Orioles, and hit .138 in 58 at-bats. In his last season, 1965, he appeared in 4 games with the California Angels.

Similarity scores show the most similar player to Gino Cimoli as Barry Bonnell, a player from the 1970s and 1980s.

Cimoli, Gene Baker, and Don Hoak shared an interest in greyhound racing. After baseball, Cimoli lived in San Francisco and was active in the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club. He died in 2011 at age 81.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Alan Cohen: "Gino Cimoli", in Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Sweet '60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 32-38. ISBN 978-1-93359-948-9

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