October 14 – Happy Birthday Lou Bartola

22bartolaUnlike all the Yankee catching prospects that preceded him from the previous decade, New York City native Lou Bartola was actually looking as if he was in the right place at the right time. The “right place” was Amsterdam, New York in 1938, when Bartola was just 20 years old and about to begin his third year of play in the Yankee farm system as a catcher for the Amsterdam Rugmakers. It was the “right time” because Bill Dickey, the Yankee’s Hall-of-Fame-worthy catcher was turning 31 years old and about to begin his tenth season as the parent club’s starting receiver…

…Bartola’s performance in Amsterdam that summer made that scenario look a lot more likely. He topped the .300 mark in batting average for the third consecutive season but for the first time, he also exhibited some impressive power, by belting 13 home runs, including some 400 feet plus drives over the Mohawk Mills center field fence. Sure enough, when New York moved him up to B-level ball the following spring, club-officials told then-Recorder Sports Editor Jack Minnoch Bartola was being groomed to replace Dickey. And then…

You can read the rest of my story about this former Amsterdam Rugmaker in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

 

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