Lou Polli

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Louis Americo Polli

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Biographical Information[edit]

"It came down to me and Lefty Gomez." - Lou Polli, about almost making the team during spring training in 1930

Lou Polli was one of the great minor league pitchers, with a record of 263-226, and also pitched twice in the major leagues (for the St. Louis Browns and the New York Giants) a dozen years apart - in 1932 and 1944. He pitched three minor-league no-hitters at the highest minor league level, one of which was in his last game.

He was nicknamed "Crip" for "cripple", something he was called by classmates after a high school football injury. He played three sports, and got major attention for striking out 28 opponents in a ten-inning game in 1921, getting featured in Believe It or Not.

Lou thereafter worked as a quarryman while playing semi-pro ball on the weekends. In 1922 he played briefly in the Eastern Canada League for Montreal, but didn't really start playing minor league ball until 1927. Decades later, Polli said that he earned more in the quarry and playing semi-pro ball than he could have as a minor leaguer (and he had a family to support), so that's why he took so long to get started in the minors.

He played for Harrisburg and Nashua in 1927. In 1928 and 1929 he was with St. Paul. He went to spring training with the New York Yankees in 1930, rooming with Tony Lazzeri and Earle Combs, and playing bridge with Bill Dickey and Lou Gehrig and Eleanor Gehrig. He played golf against Babe Ruth for a quarter a hole.

He played at Louisville, had a bad year, and the Yankees released him. He pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1931.

In 1932, he was with the St. Louis Browns all season, even though he only pitched in 5 games.

He asked to be returned to Milwaukee, and spent 1933 to 1935 there. One of his roomies there was Earl Webb. In 1936-1937 he was with the Montreal Royals. He had an altercation about a bonus with team owner Charles Trudeau father of future Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and the next year was in Chattanooga. He then went to Knoxville and Jacksonville. In 1944 he led the International League in ERA with Jersey City, and got his second chance at the majors. He went back to Jersey City in 1945. He managed a semi-pro team in 1946.

He became constable in Barre, VT, from 1947 to 1970, and later also town tax collector, till 1981. Even after the age of 80 he would go work at his friend's gas station in town.

While constable, he played for and managed a team in Lower Graniteville, with one of his teammates saying "Even at that point in his career he was by far the best pitcher I ever saw". Later, he was involved in youth leagues.

His house was full of trophies, because he was good at bowling, golf, billiards, and bridge.

He was the first player from Italy to play in the major leagues (he moved to the USA when he was 7 months old).

He was the oldest player to die in 2000, at the age of 99.

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