An award to Baldassaro's "Tony Lazzeri: Yankees Legend and Baseball Pioneer"

Apr 17, 2022 279

Prof. Lawrence A Baldassaro's latest book, Tony Lazzeri: Yankees Legend and Baseball Pioneer, has been selected to receive the 2022 SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) Baseball Research Award. Baldassaro is a professor emeritus of Italian at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and a frequent contributor to SABR publications.

Lazzeri was the first major baseball star of Italian descent and a key player for the great New York Yankees teams that won five World Series in his 12 years with the team (1926-27), and second only to Babe Ruth in popularity with the fans. But more important was his social impact.

Arriving at a time of widespread prejudice, and as one of their own who was cheered and admired by countless Americans, the Italian communities throughout the country embraced him as their hero. For the first time, immigrants and their children flocked to ballparks to cheer their young hero, some of them waving the Italian flag. I make the argument that, given his fame in America's national pastime, and with his innate leadership, quiet demeanor and strong work ethic, he countered the negative stereotypes that had been lodged in the American consciousness for decades, and possibly did more than anyone before him to enhance the public perception of Italian Americans.

"Like my previous books, Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball (2011) and Baseball Italian Style (2018), the Lazzeri bio is a labor of love" - Prof. Baldassaro says. "My goal is to help preserve the long and illustrious legacy of Italian American contributions to baseball, one of America's enduring social institutions."

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