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January 04, 2005

Frank "Skeeter" Scalzi


I was cruising eBay, looking to see how quickly OMW would hit there (answer: pretty quickly, and why you would pay for an advance reader's copy is beyond me), when I came across a completely egoless bit of Scalziania: An auction for the trading card of Frank "Skeeter" Scalzi, who played one season -- actually, 13 games -- for the New York Giants in 1939. Well, how could I not get that? A week and $20 later, it was mine.

You'd figure a guy who plays just 13 games in the bigs must have been less than good, but interestingly enough, Skeeter hit .333 in those games, so clearly he wasn't bad. This site, whose owner claims to be (and almost certainly is) Skeeter's grand nephew, suggests that the player suffered from a poorly-handled contract which somehow impacted his ability to play in the big leagues for any amount of time. We also learn that Skeeter eventually became a fairly successful minor league manager and may have gone even further save for a 1950 car accident. The things you learn.

As far as I know, Skeeter is not actually any relation to me -- although interestingly, he's a native of Ohio, where I now live. Be that as it may, Scalzis of note are scarce enough on the ground that any are of interest to me, relation or not. This is what you get for having an unusual last name; if I were named, say, "Cooper," I'd probably be less interested in a 13-game MLB player from 1939. But I'm not, and so I am.

In any event: Here's Skeeter. Enjoy him!

Posted by john at January 4, 2005 11:26 AM

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Michael Rawdon | January 4, 2005 12:23 PM

Well, Skeeter hit 333 but he also displayed no power (no extra-base hits) in his brief tenure. Baseball was very much in transition in 1939, as the minor leagues were being eviscerated by the Majors. Opportunities were probably rare, and often not based on merit. Though only 2 years removed from back-to-back NL championships in 1939, the Giants were embarking on a lengthy run of futility at that point, so cluefulness was probably not their middle name.

There was also a Johnny Scalzi who played 2 games for the Boston Braves in 1931. 1 at-bat, no hits, no walks, 1 strikeout. http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/scalzjo01.shtml

Those are the only two Scalzis in Major League history, it appears.

There is not a single Rawdon in Major League history. Of course, I understand there are only about 400 Rawdons in the country today, so that's not too surprising.

rick mcginnis | January 4, 2005 12:55 PM

Another baseball card to keep your eye out for, John.

John Scalzi | January 4, 2005 01:06 PM

Heh. Seems doubtful that a 2 game player would have a baseball card.

Brian Greenberg | January 4, 2005 01:11 PM

If you ever want to sell it, make sure you point out to people that it's his *rookie* card. ;-)

Randy | January 4, 2005 01:53 PM

Johnny Scalzi, 2-sport "star". He also played football in 1931 for the Brooklyn Dodgers.


Uncle.Chachi | January 4, 2005 01:57 PM

On the subject of uncommon surnames (I've got one): I often plug mine in to the Amazon wish list finder to see what comes up. The result set is a lot cleaner than using google, and just about everyone on it is living, and localized to the US!

John Scalzi | January 4, 2005 02:31 PM

There was football team called the Brooklyn Dodgers? You'd think someone from the baseball team would have complained about that.

Mitch Wagner | January 4, 2005 08:29 PM

"Mitch" and "Wagner" are fairly common names, but "Mitch Wagner" is passing rare so that it's noteworthy for one to come along.

I used to marvel at the page of a Mitch Wagner who was 20 years younger than I. He included a photo, and he bore a mild resemblence to me, so much so that it was easy to imagine that he was an alternate-universe Mitch Wagner who was born 20 years later, and went into computer science straight out of college, instead of journalism. He had the same hairstyle and glasses that I now wear; my hair was much longer, and I did not wear glasses, in my 20s.

Tripp | January 5, 2005 10:53 AM


Thanks for the Amazon wish list tip. I've found the namestatistics website useful as well for scanning US census data: http://www.namestatistics.com .

They claim there are about 1250 Scalzi's and about 2500 of me.

My main claim to fame is some race car driver in the 20s. We've kept a low profile since then.

Uncle.Chachi | January 5, 2005 03:01 PM

Tripp, That site is pretty interesting, except I get no numbers for my last name ["Very few"], although I share my first name with 785000 males, and 1275 females, interestingly enough.

Anonymous | March 2, 2005 11:05 PM

remember in 1939 there were 8 teams in each league, frank scalzi would have had a multi million dollar contract today. I am from frank scalzis home town, know his family - first class people. frank did in fact lose his life in a car accident, his only son dies in a swimming accident a few years later. he was not a great baseball player, but could have had a career in todays expanded market.

gary thompson | June 3, 2005 11:52 AM

You are wrong chachi,Frank,s son drowned in 1969,Frank was in a bad carwreck in 1950 but didn:t die until 1984.

Geoff Fox | December 12, 2005 09:12 AM

I'm the owner you mention for "This site, whose owner claims to be (and almost certainly is) Skeeter's grand nephew". Frank was my grandfather's brother, my mom's uncle. I have one picture of Uncle Frank with another ballplayer, whose name escapes me at the moment.

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