Bobby Del Greco
- OF, 3B, CF, RF, LF, 2B
- April 7, 1933
- 5' 10"
- 185 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-16-1952 with PIT
Robert George Del Greco (born April 7, 1933 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) was an Outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1952 and 1956), St. Louis Cardinals (1956), Chicago Cubs (1957), New York Yankees (1957-58), Philadelphia Phillies (1960-61 and 1965) and Kansas City Athletics (1961-63).
The hometown hero is sometimes one of the toughest rolls an athlete can play. The pressure of having to perform up to the expectations of the local throng can either take a player to a new level, or in most cases, force them to press too much and bring them down to disappointment. In the case of Bobby Del Greco, he proved to be the latter; a ballplayer who just couldn’t make it to the star level.
Del Greco was from the Hill District of Pittsburgh, minutes from Forbes Field. His house stood about where the Mellon (formerly Civic) Arena stands today. Bobby was signed by Pittsburgh Hall of Fame third baseman Pie Traynor for $500 and was brought up to be the Pirate starting centerfielder in 1952, before he even turned 19 years old.
The Hometown player felt he was too young at the time and was pressing too much. Although he turned out to be a fine fielder, he hit only .217 in 341 at bats, with one home run. Del Greco would not return to the club until 1956 and when he did, things did not improve much as he was only hitting .200 in the middle of May, when Cardinal General Manager Frank Lane paid a visit to Forbes Field. Lane was famous for making the deal and Del Greco just happened to hit 2 home runs that day, his first two of the season. Lane was intrigued and tried to convince the St Louis powers that be, that 1955 Rookie of the Year Bill Virdon, who was also in the middle of a slump, was loosing his eyesight and wouldn’t be able to play much longer, so he was expendable. The next day Bucco GM Joe L. Brown sent a very disappointed Del Greco to the Cards with Dick Littlefield for Virdon. Virdon eventually became the very successful Pirate centerfielder over the next decade and Del Greco bounced around with the Cards, Cubs, Yankees, Phillies and Athletics when he retired a fine defensive outfielder, but only a .229 career hitter.
While the trade was a huge plus for the Bucs and helped them to the 1960 World Championship, it was very bad blow to the 23-year old Del Greco. He thought after hitting the two homers that he had turned the corner, but he unfortunately would have to prove his talent in another city. Although he never became a solid hitter, his defensive prowess allowed him to play until 1965, nine major league seasons.
He helped the Yankees win the 1957 American League pennant. Del Greco was a speedy, defensively sound player. The Yankees acquired him to fill in for Mickey Mantle in the late innings. Del Greco played his last major-league game for the Phillies in May 1965 and remained in the minor leagues through 1967.
In nine seasons he played in 731 Games and had 1,982 At Bats, 271 Runs, 454 Hits, 95 Doubles, 11 Triples, 42 Home Runs, 169 RBI, 16 Stolen Bases, 271 Walks, .229 Batting Average, .330 On-base percentage, .352 Slugging Percentage, 697 Total Bases and 29 Sacrifice Hits.
Post playing career
Following his retirement from baseball, he went to work as a delivery driver for The Pittsburgh Press. Del Greco threw batting practice for the Pittsburgh Pirates until the early 1990s. His son, Robert, is an attorney who has been involved in a number of high-profile cases in Pittsburgh.
While luckily Del Greco eventually disproved the old adage “you can’t go home again”, as far as his major league career went, the saying proved very prophetic.
* Pittsburgh Pirates (1952, 1956)
* St. Louis Cardinals (1956)
* Chicago Cubs (1957)
* New York Yankees (1957-58)
* Philadelphia Phillies (1960-61)
* Kansas City Athletics (1961-63)
* Philadelphia Phillies (1965)
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