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Player: Vito Giannone   Team: Minton's Playhouse

Vito Giannone - Stickball's man of iron Click for bigger picture
Vito Giannone - Stickball's man of iron
In Memory
The stickball community has suffered a great loss with the passing of Vito Giannone, one of the games great players. Vito, nicknamed the "iron man of stickball," was not only a tremendous ballplayer, highly respected by teammates and opponents, but a true gentleman and champion of the game. The Stickball Hall of Fame wishes to extend our condolences to the Giannone family and all his loved ones.

Vito was one of the best hitters in the game and highly regarded for his speed on the basepaths. Vito also has the reputation for not letting an injury get in the way of his playing. Below Vito recounts his career and some of the more memorable injuries he sustained.

I played on a lot of stickball teams through the years and I guess I had some pretty unusual injuries. The first one was when I was 14, playing the outfield by 135th street and Brook Ave. I went out, chasing a ball, and as I caught it, I got hit by a car. I got rushed over to Lincoln Hospital and got 4 stitches in the head, 3 in the nose and 1 in the ear. But the main thing was, I held onto the ball.

When I was 18 in 1950 we had a game against Home Relief. It was a big money game (I think we were playing for $800). The score was 0-0 in the last inning and it was starting to rain. I hit a line drive through the infield that skidded on the street and shot into the outfield. As I was rounding the bases, the third base coach wanted me to stay at third, but there was no way, and I just kept chugging. They must have had me out by 20 feet, but I came around, flew into the catcher, knocked out the ball and slid to home. We won, but my knee popped so far out of the socket that I looked totally distorted. I remember my brother running onto the field saying hold on don't move. He took my leg and gave it some twist. It just popped right back into place, but man did that hurt.

That same year at 149th street and Tinston Place I caught a ball and fell through a pane of glass in the front of the store. I cut an artery in my leg and was rushed to Lincoln hospital again. I don't remember what happened on that play.

I guess the next big injury I got was back in '57 on Willow Ave & 134th Street and St. Francis Ave when I caught a ball and fell down on the curb. I got knocked our and had double vision for 3 months. That really got in the way of my game. I had something like that happen to me a couple of years ago, back in the late '80s. We were playing the Minataurs in E. Harlem on 105th street and a ball came down off the fire escape. I caught it but fell backwards onto the curb and got knocked out cold. They had an ambulance bring me to over to St. Vincent's hospital where they brought me around. The funny thing was that the whole time, I wouldn't let go of the ball. I even kept trying to get up to get back into the game.

That's about it except for that injury I got when we were playing the World Series of Stickball down in Florida sometime in the '70s. I slid into 3rd and really jammed up my hand. They brought me to the hospital and put my arm in a sling and cast. When I came back they were still playing and the manager of the team wanted me to go back into the game. I couldn't believe it, I said "How do you expect me to play with this splint? That time, I had to sit out.

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