February 15 – Happy Birthday Ross Moschitto plus All-Time Italian-American Yankee Team

Moschitto“Ross Moschitto” is the name most often mentioned by lukewarm Yankee fans who are my age, when they are trying to convince someone else how big a Yankee fan they are. I’m not sure why but that’s just the way it is. They don’t mention Frank Tepedino or Steve Whitaker or Roger Repoz. Its always Moschitto. He has to be the most famous non-famous Yankee in pinstripe history.

In 1965, Major League baseball started its free agent draft along with the rule that any player in the Majors or Minor leagues could be drafted if that player’s name was not on a Major League club’s 40-man expanded roster at the time the draft was conducted. For years, the Yankees had dominated their league by signing up all the best amateur prospects and developing their talent in New York’s well financed and well managed minor league farm system. No other team could steal a prospect from another franchise and since the Yankees had the most money they consistently had the most prospects.The draft and the 40-man roster rule changed that forever and Ross Moschitto paid the price for those changes.

He had signed with New York in 1964 and was assigned to their lowest level minor league team, in Johnson City, TN. When Ross hit 20 home runs in just 71 games that year, he popped onto the radar of every big league franchise. Instead of practicing their usual prospect patience, the Yankees put Moschitto on their big league roster the following April, when he was far from ready. So instead of getting a chance to play every day, Ross spent the the 1965 season sitting on a big league bench, pinch running for Mickey Mantle if the aging slugger got on base in his last at bat or taking his spot in the outfield if the Mick made an out. He got just 27 big league at bats that year and when he was sent back to the Minors the following season, he had lost his stroke for good. Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Blog celebrant was born in Fresno, CA in 1945.

Moschitto was an Italian American but not good enough to make my All-Time Yankee team of Italian Americans. Here’s my all-time Pinstriped Paisans:

1B – Jason Giambi
2B – Tony Lazzeri
3B – Mike Pagliarulo (or Frank Crosetti who started one season at third for NY)
SS – Phil Rizzuto
C – Yogi Berra
OF – Joe DiMaggio
OF – Joe Pepitone
OF –Francesco Pezzolo (better known as Ping Bodie, the first Italian American player in the Majors)
DH – Steve Balboni
SP – Vic Raschi
RP – Dave Righetti

This Yankee catcher and this one-time Yankee starting pitcher were both also was born on February 15.
Here’s Moschitto’s career stats:
1965 NYY 96 28 27 12 5 0 0 1 3 0 0 12 .185 .179 .296 .475
1967 NYY 14 11 9 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .111 .200 .111 .311
2 Yrs 110 39 36 13 6 0 0 1 3 0 1 14 .167 .184 .250 .434
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/24/2014.


    • pinstripebirthdays

      Hello John,
      Thanks for your comments. Pepitone was a very good first baseman but since he also won a Gold Glove as an outfielder, I was able to get both Giambi (who I admit was one of the worst fielding first basemen I ever saw) and Pepitone on this all-time Italian-American Yankee lineup. I should probably also add Steve Balboni as this team’s DH.

  1. Debra Ciannella

    Believe it or not but I was the president of Ross Moschitto’s fan club back in the day. He was a really nice guy. I even spoke to him once on the phone. My friend Kathe was vice president of the fan club………we loved him…….

    • Leonard moschitto

      Hey, I’m a Moschitto too. As a 9 year old Yankee fan, my family was excited when we read that a Moschitto was being called up to the Yanks. Turned out Rosario was our cousin from California. My grandfather’s nephew. Very exciting, especially when he came over for dinner.

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