Carmine Chierichella Brooklyn Dodgers Organization

Carmine Chierichella Brooklyn Dodgers Organization

A lesson in not checking in on someone you cared about. I write this blog today in memory of a great man that I just found out had passed a couple short years ago, and I will miss his amazing stories of the old days in Baseball, and of course I will miss the Lasagna he prepared when I was blessed to spend time with him at the house. I feel blessed to have met him, and made such a good friend, but getting wrapped up in my own daily events, just lost touch a little, and now will share a bit of his legacy in the blog out of respect.

Born in Green Point, Brooklyn, New York, and was the youngest son of 6 boys to Pasquale and Rose Cheriechella. Carmine’s father owned a scrap iron junkyard, and this turned out to be his first playground for the local stickball games, where he first learned to pitch.

With 3 teams in the neighborhood, the Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees, Carmine found himself gravitating to the Bronx Bombers N.Y. Yankees of all things. Not something that a Brooklynite was doing at the time. When we discussed this, he told me he had no idea why except for the Italian factor of DiMaggio, Rizzuto, and Berra. Carmine recalls fondly his summer days with his friends and family, spent at Yankee Stadium, but admits that the days in Ebbets Field for his hometown Dodgers had more of a family atmosphere feel to it. It was a smaller stadium, and you felt closer to the action. In addition, Flatbush was electric on a game day, with all the local shop owners, and their customers discussing the day’s events, and the eventual game that would happen later on in the day.

Carmine had passed through a tryout at Ebbets field, and was then asked to play for a travelling group of rookies in Herkimer, NY as a pitcher. One night though while playing in right field, since he was also a pretty good hitter, there was a ball hit just behind second base, and in an attempt to not run over the second baseman, his cleats got stuck in the mud on the wet ground as he tried to stop short, and he broke his ankle and leg. This team was made up of players who were not yet on a contract. This was just another level of tryout, and they played all around the east coast against other rookie teams. Carmine told me that he wore Gil Hodges pants, and Dixie Howell’s Jersey, which he still owns to this day. Despite the injury, which cost him his season, the Brooklyn Dodgers came into his living room, and signed him for the organization, for the enormous sum at the time of $4,000. That is all they could offer, because at the amount of $5,000, the team would have been required to keep him up with the big boys at the major league level.

Kokomo was one of his tops along the way, and this is where he won the gigantic ring that I saw on his finger at our meeting. Players who went on to great major league careers like Tommie Davis, Tim Harkness, and Mike Brumley were on that talent laden squad.

Carmine was so proud that on a night where he had been hitting, and knocked one of his 2 career homers, that one of his idols, Sal “The Barber” Maggli was in attendance.  Sal is famous for being the opposing pitcher, the day that Don Larsen threw his perfect game in the World Series against the Dodgers, and Carmine tells me that he might be one of only a few players to have ever played for all 3 of the New York Teams (Giants, Dodgers, and Yankees) Two of his greatest results came against Hall of Famers. In his home stadium in Kokomo, he defeated Leroy “Satchel” Paige’s Cuban All-Stars 6-1, and then his other fondest memory came in a 1957 game against Juan Marichal, the famed Giant Pitcher, who was pitching for Michigan City at the time.

When asked for advice he would give to players, and especially to young pitchers in this generation, he said he would have definitely taken better care of his arm. He threw very hard, and said he thought he could never hurt himself. He tried to strike out every player he faced, fastball after fastball. His advice is that you have to move the ball around, and you have to change speeds. Pitching is definitely more mental than physical. He told me his career was shortened because all the players eventually just timed him.

After leaving baseball, he was drafted into the Army in 1961, and was eventually sent to France of all things, and competed in Basketball, and then won the GI World Series in baseball with the Nancy Dodgers over the Seventh Army Support Commanders. It was during that playoff, that Carmine was said to have hit a homerun over the 400ft. fence, a Four lane highway, a sidewalk, and someone’s lawn, before settling on top of a building after a few bounces, some 600 feet away. Most people said that the ball must have gone 500 ft. before it even bounced. Not too bad, for the type of equipment that used back then in comparison to today’s bats and balls. Due to his mammoth homeruns, he was labeled “Bruiser” for what he did to the ball.

After a long career as a mailman, Carmine found another love in working for the Florida Boxing Commission for the past 20 years, first as an inspector, and then as a timekeeper at ringside. When speaking with Carmine, he fondly always remembers one day here in Miami when he was working for the Baltimore Orioles during spring training, taking tickets, as he loved being around the game, when the Toronto Blue Jays came in with his old Dodgers buddy Bobby Cox as manager. Carmine went down on the field to see his acquaintance of many spring trainings together back in the late 50’s. Cox was a Dodger farmhand as well, so they spent some time together trying to make the big club, but on this day here in Miami, it was just a good old fashioned game of catch by the dugout, and a few laughs of days gone by. Carmine could still bring the heat a little, and Bobby asked him if he would like to throw batting practice to the Jays squad, but he politely refused, and went back to his job of collecting the day’s entrance tickets. It was another beautiful day in the sun, on a ball field for Carmine “Bruiser” Chierichella

Carmine passed on April, 8, 2021