- Schnozz, Bocci
- April 6, 1908
- 6' 3"
- 230 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-15-1931 with BRO
- Allstar Selections:
- 1938 MVP
- Hall of Fame:
"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
Lombardi broke into baseball with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League at age eighteen. After being sent out to Ogden for seasoning, he had three outstanding seasons, catching 120, 164, and 146 games and hitting .377, .366, and .370. The Dodgers bought his contract in 1931, but though he hit a strong .297, they traded him to Cincinnati in a six-player deal in March 1932.
Lombardi won two batting titles, the first catcher to do so. In 1938 he was named National League Most Valuable Player, in 1939 he helped the Cincinnati Reds to the World Series. The 1939 series saw an incident that haunted his career. In the 10th inning of the fourth and final game, Yankee Charlie Keller crashed into him in a close play at the plate. Lombardi was stunned and another Yankee run scored while he lay on the ground. Newspapers unfairly called it "Lombardi's Swoon."
He made up for it, in 1940 he led the Reds to the World Championship. He was later sold to the Braves in 1942, he won his second batting title (.330) and then spent his final five ML seasons with the Giants.
A cartoon-lie figure, Lombardi was considered the slowest player in the game, had a notoriously large nose, and hands so large he could hold five baseballs in one palm. A fair defensive player, he made his name with his bat, fashioning a .306 lifetime average with 190 home runs, a total exceeded by only two other right-handed hitting catchers when he retired. Like Enos Slaughter, Lombardi was an outspoken critic of the Hall of Fame, as the years passed and he was not elected. In 1986, eight years after Lombardi had died, the Veterans Committee elected him to Cooperstown.
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