The Obit For Fred Lanifero

Alfred Lanifero

Published in The Providence Journal on July 7, 2010

"TOBY", 91, formerly of 100 Madison Ave., passed away July 5, 2010 at Cedar Crest Nursing Centre.

Born in Providence on May 23, 1919, he is the last surviving sibling of the late Gelsomino and Vittoria (Mezzanotte) Lanifero who emigrated from Italy in the early 1900's and settled in Federal Hill. He was the beloved husband for 45 years of the late Uliana (Tiberi) Lanifero. He is predeceased by four brothers Gennaro "Jerry", Frank "Beefo", Costanzo "Gus" and Felix and two sisters Felicia Lanifero and Josephine DiRaimo. Mr. Lanifero is survived by 5 nieces and 4 nephews, several grand nieces and nephews, a brother-in-law, Deacon Peter Ceprano, and a sister-in-law,Cordia Tiberi.

Toby was educated in the Providence school system and drew a lot of attention from scouts when he made the All-State baseball team in 1937 while at Central High School. Upon graduation he played with the champion Fraternity Club team in the Independent Amateur League coached by Chief Pullano. In 1938 Toby was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a second baseman and this started a professional baseball career which spanned 13 seasons. In 1941 the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League bought Toby's contract and assigned him to Salem, Oregon of the Western International League, Toby batted .329, stole 42 bases and then finished the season with the Padres, where he batted .301. He is a member of the San Diego Baseball Historical Society. His baseball career was interrupted by WWII when, in 1942, Toby, like many other athletes in their prime, enlisted in the service. Toby spent two and a half years in combat in Africa and several campaigns in Italy (Sicily, Naples, Foggia, Rome, Arno, North Apennines and the PO Valley). In February 1944 he earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service for his devotion to duty, initiative, and courage during the Battle of Cassino which led to the liberation of Rome. He was honorably discharged in October 1945.

Upon his return from WWII he successfully returned to professional baseball with the San Diego Padres (AAA) but was released at the end of the 1946 season. In 1947, he signed with the Albany (NY) Senators in the Eastern League where he spent seven respectable years. The Albany team won two pennants and in, 1948, Toby was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the Eastern League when he batted .298 in 142 games. He closed out his career as a player / manager for the High Point Thomasville Toms in NC. Over a span of 13 professional seasons he had a .288 career batting average and had the opportunity to play with numerous Major League Baseball players.

Toby returned to RI and worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier in Cranston until his retirement. He remained active in local sports where he managed Amateur League baseball and softball teams. He also was an umpire for RI Interscholastic baseball and an avid bowler. He and his brother, Gus were accomplished soccer players and both were inducted into the New England Soccer Hall of Fame in 1994. In 1999, Toby and Gus, both longtime residents of Cranston, were asked to light the ceremonial torch for the CVS / Cranston Senior Games which drew over 1,100 participants from RI and other parts of New England. He was a former communicant of St. Rocco's Church, Johnston.

He will be missed by his dear friends of over 60 years, team mates from the Albany Senators, Frank Staucet of Albany, N.Y. and the late Joe Belcastro of Central Islip, NY and their families. At the conclusion of their baseball careers, they stayed in touch, shared family memories and celebrations and enjoyed annual summer reunions in Albany and at Saratoga Race Course.

His funeral is Thursday at 10:15 a.m. from "WOODLAWN" Funeral Home, 600 Pontiac Avenue, Cranston followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. in St. Mary's Church, Cranston. Burial with Military Honors will follow in St. Ann's Cemetery. VISITATION Thursday morning 8:30-10:15 . In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to St. Vincent de Paul Food Center 181 Princess Ave., Cranston 02920. for online condolences.