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Ed Abbaticchio

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  • Ed Abbaticchio

    Ed Abbaticchio

    Edward James Abbaticchio was born on April 15, 1877 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, just two years after his parents Archangelo and Mary Abbaticchio had emigrated from Italy. The Abbaticchio family included eight children.

    FAMILY

    Archangelo and Mary, nee Sorrentino, natives of Naples, Italy were married in 1868. Archangelo was the son of a grocer and himself had worked as a barber since age 14. Mary was from a family of senators and other government officials. The Abbaticchio family (with date and place of birth):

    Archangelo, January 26, 1842, Naples
    Mary, August 1842, Naples

    Nicholas, 1869, Naples
    Albert, March 1870, Naples

    Albert invented a novel picture frame. Prints of which are sold on Ebay. Here are the patent and design:
    http://www.google.com/patents?hl=en&...vdAL3vecmufkus

    http://www.google.com/patents?id=nSZ...P1mEAb8c&hl=en

    Pauline, 1872, Naples
    Horace, 1874, Naples
    Edward
    Caroline, August 1878, Latrobe
    William, June 1880, Latrobe
    Raymond, June 1882, Latrobe

    Raymond was a star quarterback at Georgetown University, graduating in 1904. His daughter Mary is the mother of G. Gordon Liddy.

    The couple decided to uproot their four children and move to the United States. On July 16, 1875 they arrived in New York. Archangelo had a friend who lived in Monastery, Pennsylvania so the family moved there. Unable to speak English and with little to no funds, the family relied on the Benedictine monks at the local St. Mary’s Abbey to help Angelo open a barbershop. The family then settled in nearby Latrobe, the first Italian family in the area.

    Soon, Archangelo had barbershops throughout Pennsylvania in Latrobe, Greensburg, Scottsdale, Derry and in Connellsville, Indiana. In 1890 he purchased the Latrobe House, a small hotel. Over the years, he remodeled and built numerous additions, creating the premiere hotel in Latrobe. By 1906, the family had amassed a small fortune which included owning over 35 apartments and businesses and some local mining speculation.

    Thus, Ed grew up in a wealthy family with a house full of servants and didn’t need the income from a sport’s career. Abbaticchio, from a Catholic background, attended the current Saint Vincent’s College, a Benedictine monastery, in Latrobe from 1891-96. He also received a Master of Accounts degree from St. Mary’s College (another Benedictine school, now known as Belmont Abbey College), North Carolina in 1895.

    SPORTS

    At age 18 in 1895 Abbaticchio (Abbey), 5’11” and 170 lbs., joined the Latrobe Volunteer Fireman football team, which is generally recognized as the first professional football club. During the fall from 1895 to 1900 Abbey played fullback and kicker for Latrobe. He is credited (by legendary coach Fielding Yost) with placing the sport’s first spiral punt, enabling the ball to travel farther. Abbey was paid $50 a game. In all likelihood he was professional football’s first player of Italian descent. (Latrobe reverted to an amateur team in 1899)

    In 1897 Abbey, a righthanded infielder, was playing semi-pro baseball for a Greensburg, Pennsylvania club. He was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies, making his major league debut at second base on September 4. His season was quickly over two days later when he broke his right hand sliding into Chief Zimmer at home plate.

    Abbey was again possibly the first professional of Italian descent in a major sport, baseball. He certainly was the first one of significance. He was also the first major leaguer to play professional football - and, quite possibly the first professional baseball player to play professional football (and vice versa).

    He played in three games for the club and was invited to spring training, rejoining the club in 1898 for another 25 games, mostly at third base. He quickly developed some nicknames to help fans adapt to his last name – “At Bat,” “Abbey” and “Batty.”

    In 1899 Abbey played second base for Minneapolis in the Western League (the soon to be American League). In 1900 he started with Minneapolis but then transferred to Connie Mack’s roster in Milwaukee. At the end of the year one of Abbey’s teammates on the 1898 Phillies, Newt Fisher, was among the contingent that formed the Southern Association. Fisher became manager and catcher for the Nashville franchise. He recruited Abbey to play second base and shortstop.

    Abbey batted .363 in 108 games in 1901 and .352 (99 games) in ’02 at Nashville. He led the league with 127 runs in 1901. In 1902 he led the league with 18 triples and 61 stolen bases. In Nashville Abbey met his future wife, local native Annie Connor. In early 1902 Abbey coached the Nashville University baseball team.

    On September 8, 1902 Abbey was announced as the new manager of Nashville, replacing Fisher who was to take over the Birmingham club; however, Fisher never did leave his post with Nashville, remaining as manager until the middle of the 1905 season. At a game in Little Rock Abbey pulled the nose of umpire Chris Ghio, receiving a $10 fine.

    The Boston Braves bought Abbey from Nashville in early September 1902 but they permitted him to finish the year with the club (Connie Mack also made an offer). He was a regular in Boston for the next three seasons – second base in 1903 and shortstop the following two seasons.

    After the 1905 season, Abbey announced his retirement from baseball. He had plans to take over the Latrobe Hotel from his father. The licensing board granted Abbey a full license (including alcohol) to conduct business at the location provided that he retire from baseball and devote his energies to running a successful business. He did not play baseball in 1906.

    John Brush of the New York Giants was granted permission to discuss a possible contract with Abbey. He traveled to Latrobe and held conversations with Abbey from May to July but was unable to lure the infielder out of retirement. The Braves placed Abbey on waivers for this purpose in May but it was withdrawn after several teams claimed him.

    Abbey consented to a return to baseball for the 1907 season if he could be traded to the nearby Pittsburgh Pirates so he could keep a part-time eye on his business venture in Latrobe (about 40 miles outside the city). The Braves promptly traded him on December 11, 1906 to the Pirates for a hefty price – Ginger Beaumont, Claude Ritchey and Patsy Flaherty. The Pirates then signed Abbey for $5,000 a year, more than his infield mate Honus Wagner was making. On February 18, 1907 the National Commission reinstated Abbey. He was not assessed a fine for holding out and leaving the game.

    From 1907-08 Abbey was the starting second baseman for the Pirates. He finished second in RBI in the National League in 1907 with 82 to Sherry Magee (and in ninth place in 1908). From 1903-08, save 1906, Abbey swiped 134 bases.

    At spring training in Hot Springs, Arizona in 1908 Abbey received word that the licensing board back home had failed to issue a license for his hotel (which he had renamed 777 Latrobe House) for the upcoming fiscal year. The judge was miffed with Abbey’s departure from Latrobe, his absentee ownership. Abbey quickly departed for home on March 30 sparking concerns about a possible retirement.

    However, word out of Pittsburgh on April 11 declared that Abbey had successfully transferred the license into his father’s name, allowing him to return to the Pirates.

    On the last day of the (Merkle-boner) 1908 season the Pirates entered the game in first place in the National League, 0.5 games up on their opponent of the day the Chicago Cubs (the Giants, 1.5 games behind, still had a three-game series with Boston to play). One of the largest crowds ever to witness a ball game to date showed, over 34,000, to see Hall of Famers Miner Brown and Vic Willis face off.

    The Pirates entered the ninth inning down 5-2. Honus Wagner led off with a single to center which brought up Abbey. He promptly drilled a line drive to right which appeared to some to be a home run, but was called foul by umpires Hank O’Day and Cy Rigler (Many sources say that the bases were loaded at the time, but that simply was not the case).

    Naturally, an argument ensued. Abbey struck out on the next pitch. Two outs later, the Pirates were done for the year. A Chicago lady subsequently sued after being hit with Abbey’s liner. Her ticket stub reflected a seat in foul territory. The Cubs rightfully won but I don’t think the Giants saw it that way.

    Abbey only appeared in 36 games for the Pirates in 1909; however, he received a ring (if they gave them out) for his part on the world champions. His only appearance in the World Series was in Game #6. In the ninth inning he pinch-hit for pitcher deacon Phillippe. Though he fouled off five or six balls, he struck out. At the same time Chief Wilson broke for third base. The game was over on a strikeout, throw out double play.

    Abbey was the last hold out on the Pirates 1910 roster, not signing until the end of February. On June 30, 1910 (the one year anniversary of the opening of Forbes Field) the Pirates hoisted the 1909 pennant for the first time. Abbey was sold to the Boston Braves the next day, appearing in only three games for the Pirates. He played in 52 games, mostly at shortstop, for Boston before being released on September 17 (final game two days earlier).

    On Jan 28, 1911 he signed with Louisville of the American Association; however, he announced his retirement on February 15. His baseball career ended here (He was officially released by Louisville four days later). Abbey had just bought a popular hotel and restaurant for $40,000, the Kurtz Hotel and Cafe near the main entrance of Forbes Field. (He sold the Kurtz at the end of 1914)

    FAMILY

    Abbaticchio married Ann C. Connor, a Nashville native and six years younger, in 1903 or early 1904. Their children:

    Edward, born on October 27, 1904 (changed name to Edward Abbey, became a doctor)

    Catherine, born circa October 1908 (married name McGilvery)

    Howard, born circa July 1913

    Martha, born circa September 1915 (married name Bland)

    Damian Albert, born on February 3, 1917 (Fr. Damian Albert Abbaticchio became a Benedictine monk, taking his vows on July 2, 1939) http://www.stbenedict-chesapeake.com/frdamian

    Rose, died in infancy
    Anne, died in infancy

    After leaving the game, Abbaticchio ran his business interests until retiring to Fort Lauderdale at age 55 in 1932. Ann (mother) died in 1948. Abbaticchio died on January 6, 1957 of cancer in Fort Lauderdale. He was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Latrobe.
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 06-10-2008, 07:20 AM.

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