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Gino Cimoli More Than A Trivia Question

It's an odd thing, isn't it, when a man's life, spanning more than 81 years, is reduced to a trivia question?

Granted, it's a pretty nifty and historically significant trivia question. But still ...

From John Shea (via SF Gate):

When Gino Cimoli stepped in the batter's box at Seals Stadium on April 15, 1958, major-league baseball was born on the West Coast.

Cimoli was a Brooklyn Dodger but a San Franciscan at heart. He was inserted atop the lineup by manager Walter Alston, who knew the significance of the North Beach legend and kid from Galileo High School becoming the first big-league batter following the Giants' and Dodgers' relocation from New York.

Oh, there's more. Cimoli delivered a key pinch-hit single in the Pirates' stirring comeback in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. And here's a story I dug up. The teller is Jim Brosnan, who'd been Cimoli's teammate with the Cardinals in 1959 and wrote a book that was published in the spring of 1961 ...

Only two people got really mad at me because of The Long Season: Solly Hemus, who had been my manager on the Cardinals, and Gino Cimoli, who had been my teammate. I had written that Cimoli had gotten a bad break on a fly ball and then jaked it, cost me a game. My 1961 Reds teammate, Howie Nunn, a relief pitcher, was close to Cimoli from their days together on the Cards.

He said, "You know, if Cimoli ever sees you, he'll kill you because you embarrassed him in your book."

I replied, "I didn't know Cimoli learned how to read."

Howie thought that was funny, so he went and told Cimoli and then reported back that Cimoli was even more upset. One day in Cincinnati, Howie told me to meet him at the Rendezvous, a popular rathskeller. He said, "I've got a friend who wants to meet you. I figured it was some broad. But Howie walks in with Gino Cimoli. The Cardinals were in town to play us. After some angry stares, it was apparent that neither Gino nor I wanted to fight. After three or four drinks we were laughing about the whole thing.

Eighty-one years is a long time, though. Think of all the stories Gino Cimoli could tell, if he were sitting next to you right now.