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Al Gionfriddo, 81; Dodger Made Game-Saving Catch in '47 Series

March 16, 2003|From Associated Press

SOLVANG, Calif. — Al Gionfriddo, the Brooklyn Dodger outfielder who robbed Joe DiMaggio of a tying home run in the 1947 World Series, has died. He was 81.

Gionfriddo died Friday after collapsing on the fifth green during a round of golf at Solvang's Alisal course, the Santa Barbara News-Press reported.

"He was an outstanding ballplayer and friend," former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda told the newspaper.

"He wore the Dodger uniform proudly," Lasorda said, "and we're losing a great Dodger."

Gionfriddo caught DiMaggio's drive to left field in Game 6 of the 1947 World Series, saving an 8-6 win for the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees went on to win Game 7 in the second of many World Series they would take from the Dodgers.

Gionfriddo played just three seasons in the big leagues -- two with the Pittsburgh Pirates and one with the Dodgers -- and had a .266 career batting average.

His famous catch ended what turned out to be his last big league game.

In a 2002 interview with the News-Press, Gionfriddo said he still signed autographs for people on the East Coast who said they saw him make the catch. "There must have been a million people in the stands that day," he said.

"It was a thrill just to get to the major leagues," Gionfriddo said. "Once you get there, to be able to play in the World Series is so thrilling."

Gionfriddo moved to Santa Barbara in 1963, when he became the first general manager of the Santa Barbara Dodgers, a short-lived minor league team. He had been living in Solvang since 1995.

Gionfriddo is survived by his wife, Sue, and four children.

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