Ernie Lombard Celebrity Life
Ernie Lombardi’s full name was Ernesto Natali Lombardi and was born on April 6, 1908. He grew up in Oakland and studied at McClymonds High School. The same school from which Frank Robinson would graduate from.
Career Minor League
Lombardi first played for the Oakland Oaks which happen to be the baseball team of his home town. This team played for the Pacific Coast League. During that time he maintained an average of .350 which he complimented with his strong arm. Soon the Brooklyn Robins began to notice his talents and purchased his contract from the Oakland Oaks 50,000 dollars.
Career Major League
Lombardi played his first rookie season for the Brooklyn Robins in 1931. During that season he had an average of .297. Unfortunately for him, the Robins had managed to get too many high-quality catchers. In fact, the number of catchers was so high that Wilbert Robinson was thinking of using him as a pitcher. However, that was not to be and he got traded to the Cincinnati Reds at the beginning of the next season.
Lombardi benefited from this trade and he managed a batting average of .303 during which he had hit 11 home runs as well as had an RBI of 68 runs. In 1935 his batting average improved to .343, but that was not enough to get him selected as an All-star player. This honor came to him in 1936.
Lombardi became an All-star player in 1937 and 1938. He was the most productive of all the Reds players and also the most popular. He was part of the team that won the world series title in 1940. He was the catcher during the back-to-back no-hitter accomplished by Johnny Vander Meer. In fact, he was such a good catcher that his back-up catcher Willard Hershberger committed suicide because he felt that he could not match the skills of Lombardi.
Hershberger confided in Bill McKechnie that his father had committed suicide and he was going to do the same. Hershberger did not show up to the stadium the following day and this worried McKechnie who asked Dan Cohen to check on him. He found Hershberger in the bathtub with his throat slit.
The Boston Braves were able to purchase his contract and he became their All-star player. He had a batting average of .330 and this got him AL batting title. The next catcher to earn this title was Joe Mauer who earned it more than 60 years later in 2006.
Lombardi was named an All-star player for the last time in the 1943 season. He was traded to the New York Giants and enjoyed the three seasons he played with them. These seasons were not spectacular. But he began to notice that his playing time was diminishing and he retired from major baseball league after the finish of the 1947 season. Lombardi had a reputation for being slow-footed. It was said that an opposing manager even made fun of this. He said that Lombardi was moving as if he was carrying both the piano and the person who was tuning. However, his strong arm, accurate throwing along with his ability to call a game made him an outstanding catcher.
Lombardi was battling depression in 1953 and people around persuaded him to go to a sanatorium. Unfortunately, he slit his throat from ear to ear on the way to the sanatorium. The doctors did a blood transfusion and listed his condition as critical during the first few days. Fortunately, he was able to recover from it with the newspaper saying that he would survive. He died in 1977 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.
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