scout Angelo Giuliani dies at age 91
Trudi Hahn, Star Tribune
October 9, 2004
Angelo (Tony) Giuliani, a longtime Minnesota Twins talent scout who started the team's free baseball clinics for youth, died Friday. He was 91.
Born in St. Paul, he was a lifelong resident except for an unexpected stay in Italy as a child. Giuliani was 13 months old when he and his mother traveled to Italy to see her dying father. When the outbreak of World War Istranded them for five years, Giuliani's father, stranded alone in St. Paul, discovered baseball.
Angelo, home again in St. Paul, was 12 when his father took him to his first game, the St. Paul Saints vs. the Baltimore Orioles in the 1924 Little World Series at Lexington Park. He was 19 when the Saints signed him.
He also wore the uniform of the Minneapolis Millers before breaking into the big leagues in 1936 with the St. Louis Browns, where manager Rogers Hornsby nicknamed him "Tony" because, he claimed, no one named Angelo had ever become famous. Over the next seven years, Giuliani also played for the Washington Senators, twice, and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
His lifetime statistics are unimpressive -- batting average of .233, 69 runs batted in and no home runs -- but the second-string catcher was involved in many notable games with Washington. He caught Early Wynn's first game in 1939 and Lefty Gomez's last one in 1943, and got a hit in 1936 against Bob Feller in the future Hall of Famer's first game.
On July 4, 1939, Giuliani was lined up on the field with the Senators when the New York Yankees bid goodbye to Lou Gehrig. The Iron Man was dying of a disease later named for him, and when his "luckiest man on the face of the earth" speech echoed around Yankee Stadium, "there was literally not a dry eye in the house, including mine," Giuliani said.
A back injury in 1943 ended his playing career, but as a catcher he had watched many of the game's greatest players and put his knowledge to use as a scout for the Washington Senators, the team that became the Minnesota Twins late in 1960.
"He had an eye for talent, the ability to close a deal," said Terry Ryan, the Twins' general manager, who was signed by Giuliani as a player.
The clinics Giuliani started in 1961 showed baseball basics only to boys at first, but now include girls, too. The clinics have taught more than 800,000 kids in nine states and Canada.
In 1966, a man at a clinic in Wadena, Minn., suggested that Giuliani check out a high-school pitcher in Rothsay. The kid, Dave Goltz, pitched eight seasons for the Twins in the 1970s.
Opening Day of the 1984 season was one of Giuliani's high points as a scout. In the starting lineup were four Twins he had scouted and signed -- John Castino, Jim Eisenreich, Kent Hrbek and Tim Laudner. In 1987, Hrbek and Laudner were key players when the Twins won their first World Series.
"Kent Hrbek was the type of player who Angelo took a lot of pride in," Ryan said. The homegrown hitter from Bloomington Kennedy High School "reminded me of Babe Ruth, Jimmy Foxx, Mickey Mantle, those guys," said Giuliani when Hrbek retired in 1994.
Giuliani, who as a catcher would talk to batters in Italian to get them confused, was generally acknowledged as "the storyteller king of all time," said Jim Rantz, Twins director of minor leagues and a Giuliani signee in 1960. "Five minutes wouldn't get it done. It had to be 20."
As a sportsman, Giuliani was an excellent marksman who enjoyed hunting pheasants, an avid bowler well into his 70s, and a fanatic about his racing pigeons, whose dung, he said, was the fertilizer that helped him grow big tomatoes for the annual Great Tomato Contest in the Twins' clubhouse at Met Stadium.
Giuliani's wife, Genevieve, died in 1995. Survivors include sons John, Michael and Timothy; daughter Mary Josephine Prather; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren, and sisters Mary Louise Chandler and Gloria Rumsey.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Therese Catholic Church, Norfolk and Prior Avs., St. Paul. Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at the O'Halloran & Murphy Funeral Home, 575 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, and at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the church.
the Star Tribune on 10/10/2004.