The Wizard of Oz premieres, average price of a new car is $700, Jimmie Foxx leads the majors with 35 homeruns, and future Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski is born. The year is 1939. That is also the year that Al Brancato fulfilled his dream of making it to the majors when he debuted on September 7, 1939.
Al Brancato was a slight shortstop (5’9″, 188 lb.) from Philadelphia who was signed by one of his hometown teams in 1938. In his first year of professional ball, Brancato played for the Greenville Spinners (Class A) and Williamsport Grays (Class A). The following season, Brancato suited up again for Williamsport where he played 135 games and led the Eastern League in RBIs (98). That was enough for manager Connie Mack to bring Al up to the A’s in early September. Al recorded his first major league hit on September 12th; he went 2-6 against the St. Louis Browns at Shibe Park. He went on to play a total of 21 games in 1939 and finished the season with a .206 batting average. In 1940 and 1941, Al started at shortstop for the Athletics hit .219 over a span of 251 games. Following the ’41 season, Al enlisted in the Navy where he served until 1945. Al would return to the Athletics in 1945, but it would be short-lived. After playing 10 games, he was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League (AAA). Al would play 8 more seasons in the minors, but would never make it back to the majors. In 1953, Brancato played his least season, which included a stint as manager of the Elmira Pioneers. Brancato was out of baseball until 1959 when he returned to coach the Saint Joseph’s University baseball team until 1964.
Imagine playing for the legendary Connie Mack. Al Brancato did and we asked him what his favorite memory of Mr. Mack was:
“My most favorite memory of Mr. Mack sitting on the bench in shirt and tie with the scorecard in his hand to give signals to third base coach. He never yelled. We had meetings before a game to go over how to pitch to players on visiting teams. Earl Mack was one of coaches on base when we were hitting. Al Simmons was third base coach. Earl Brucker was also a coach.”
Mr. Brancato is currently listed as the 25th oldest living Major League Baseball player (92 years, 247 days).
Full text of our correspondence. Click to enlarge.
Read more about Al Brancato:
Al Brancato bio (Baseball in Wartime)