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Sunday, May 18 2003

Click for profile.Note: Frank Charney, who has been a friend of the Home Page for some years and who has been the most prolific writer of letters to our Forum letters department, has agreed to fill our weekly Sunday Postcard slot. Nanty Glo native Frank and his wife, Rose, of Revloc, live in Alexandria, Virginia, in retirement, and also have a home in Revloc in order to keep in touch with their Valley roots. —Webmaster

Great catch

I first saw the obituary (name only) of Al Gionfriddo in the Ebensburg Mountainer-Herald, and researched his passing. A native of Cambria County, he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947 to serve as a utility baseball player. Every old baseball fan remembers his amazing catch against Joe DiMaggio at the 415-foot mark in left center field at Yankee Stadium in the 1947 World Series, to preserve a Dodger's victory in the sixth World Series game. They eventully lost the series to the Yankees. The catch provided him with fame and instant name recognition in the annals of baseball history. His obituary follows.

Albert Francis Gionfriddo passed away on March 14, 2003, while playing golf at his home course in Solvang, CA. He was born on March 8, 1922, in Dysart, Pennsylvania, where he lived until graduating from Cresson High School. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates to play professional baseball, where he began to "live his dream" in 1941. He served in the US Army in 1943, receiving an Honorable Discharge after being injured. He returned to baseball in 1944, making the Pirate's Major League team later that year.

Al played for the Pirates until he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Al's career was distinguished by the opportunity to play in the first televised World Series in 1947, when he "robbed" Joe Dimaggio of a homerun to save the sixth game. "The Catch" endures as one of the greatest in baseball history. Al's baseball career spanned 25 years as a player, coach, manager, and scout. He was the General Manager for the Santa Barbara Dodgers before retiring from professional baseball. He remained in Santa Barbara and began his next endeavor in restaurant management at Petrini's. He owned and operated his own family restaurant, Al's Dugout, in Goleta for several years. He then worked in the Athletic Department at San Marcos High School for 15 years.

Since that retirement, he thoroughly enjoyed working part-time at Sandpiper Golf Course, and avidly playing golf on his "days off." He proudly enjoyed his membership and new friends at Alisal since moving to Solvang in 1995. His greatest love in life was his family, numerous friends, and his pet Beagles.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Sue, his children Susan, Gary, Alene, and Ray; 14 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son Robert and daughter Kris. Of Al's 12 brothers and sisters, he is survived by Paulino, James, Joan, and Leo, all of Pennsylvania, and several nieces and nephews. Memorial Mass was March 21, 2003, at Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang at 1:30 p.m.

— Frank Charney

From the mouths of kids

I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my five-year-old shout from the back seat, "Mom! That lady isn't wearing a seat belt!"

— Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

Diplomacy is letting someone else have your way.

—Lester B. Pearson

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