Interview with a Glorius man of baseball
On July 24, 2013 Mr. Giulio Glorioso kindly replied seven questions I emailed him as an Internet Interview for a book I was writting then about past and current situation of baseball all over the world. Thanks to Mr. Roberto Bugane, official historian of Italian Baseball, I could contact Glorioso, the first legend of italian baseball.
Last saturday (06/19/2015) Giulio Glorioso -which means glorius- passed away. The interview that was supposed to appear in a book -which writting is currently stopped- but it has gained a special importance now that I am studying journalism and Glorioso was the first person interviewed by me.
Without anymore introductions, here it is the interview:
Q: You were undoubtedly the first big star of modest Italian baseball. As we know, Italy (and for extension Europe) is not a baseball land, so I am curious, when and how was your first contact with baseball? What was the sensation that you had when you first touched a baseball?
A: A pretty good competitor in scholastic sport activities, I came first in contact with softball in the summer of ’45 playing impromptu street softball “games” using equipment donated or discarded by U.S. Army personnel stationed in Rome since June 4, 1944. My first contact with a baseball occurred in 1949 when the leading teams of the softball league founded in ’46 by baseball, basketball and softball pioneer Guido Graziani – a Springfield College laureate – decided to join the newly founded baseball association. The name of Joe Di Maggio spurred everyone’s attention, the Italian translation of his “How to Play Baseball” our inspiration.
Q: In an interview for the website Mr. Baseball, we can see a picture of young Glorioso with his teammates of a 2nd division softball league. The description of the picture says you were shortstop. Was shortstop the first position you played? And how did you become pitcher? link of the picture and interview:
A: Shortstop was the first position I played with Gilda Softball. With the 1st division Gruppo Sportivo Ferrovieri Roma (’48) I was an outfielder. I became a pitcher in 1951, out of sheer necessity in a few weeks of hard work thanks to Lazio Baseball coach Dick Leone, who had played pro ball and in 1950 had made Romano Lachi – a teammate with the Ferrovieri – the best pitcher in the league.
Q: In 1953 you visited the Cleveland Indians minor league spring training camp in Florida, and you were seen by some scouts, what happened there? Do you think you could have made the majors?
A: In 1953 I had a good fast ball, a decent breaking ball and a grand total of some 30 appearances on the pitching rubber, including the assignment as starting pitcher in the Italy-Spain game played in Rome in the summer of ’52. Thanks mostly to the presence if Gregory Peck and his ceremonial first pitch the game was a success with the national press and the newsreels and eventually paved the way for the foundation of the European Federation. The MVP award sponsored by the Transocean firm triggered my stage with the Indians as an exchange student in the framework of the program sponsored by the American Embassy. Of course, by professional standards I was just a green amateur from Italy. Awed by the Indians’ organization and athletic talents, I managed to survive the daily gruesome routine and studied the hitters, but never dreamed I could male the majors.
Q:In the interview quoted above you said nowadays Italian baseball is better but players seem to move through motions, so it brings to my question. Back in the time when you played, how passionate were the players on the field? How important was baseball in your lives? considering that it’s a extremely minor sport in Italy.
A: Regretfully, I must confirm my impression. I am not questioning the players’ “passion”. Back in the time when I played and afterwards baseball had emerged as the no.1 summer sport. In principle, each and every player was motivated by the hope to make the national team. Today, for the love of the elastic IBAF rankings, of Olympic baseball and of a bigger slice of the government funds allocated to the development of Italian sport, a fat quota of Team Italy’s roster is recruited among overseas professional players of Italian descent who perhaps never played a pepper game in Italy. In my opinion this practice is a travesty of the game, a waste of public money and a self-defeating exercise.
Q: You pitched in the first European baseball championships and after that you played others championships. How were those tournaments about organization, level and attendance?
A: In my recollection as a player the European championships that took place in Holland and the 1971 championship in Bologna and Parma stand out for organization and attendance.
Q: Does Giulio Glorioso see a better future for Italian and European baseball?
A:I trust that the echo of Alex Liddi’s and Alex Maestri’s success in professional baseball will be instrumental in promoting grassroots baseball here (déjà vu in 1965, when Alberto Rinaldi was signed by the Cincinnati Reds – the first Italian in pro ball!) – and in stopping the current slump. College scholarships would help. The restoration of JF Kennedy Stadium in Milano on the occasion of the 2015 World Expo and the availability of the Hoofddorp facilities in the Netherlands for MLB games and other high-profile events should benefit not only the local baseball communities but all European baseball, and spur further initiatives – hopefully, a continental commercial league unencumbered by politicians and red-tape. Unfortunately, the embedment of the European Confederation as a paper division of IBAF does not seem consistent with free enterprise requirements and with the best interests of ECB member countries and of the game.
Did you have any previous information about Giulio Glorioso?
Q: Finally, do you have any funny or interesting anecdotes of your times as players.
A: How about a personal experience that can help you realize the abyss between the state of the art of Italian baseball in the early Fifties vis-à-vis Organized Baseball? From the spring training camp in Daytona Beach, Florida I had reported to Cleveland for the opening game of the American League season. The following day, as I was taking leave from the Municipal Stadium GM Hank Greenberg – the great Detroit Tigers slugger – wished me good luck and said “I am sure you will have a great year and win 20 games.” “Impossible, Mr. Greenberg” I replied. He was surprised. “Impossible? Why?” “Because the Italian League championship season consists of 14 games. We only play Sunday ball.” Perplexed, Mr. Greenberg looked at Jesse Owens – yes, the mythical Jesse Owens, the hero of the Berlin Olympics, was the Indians’ Community Relations Director. “Well, perhaps you will not win them all” he said ”Anyway, always bear down like the pros.”
And that was the entire interview.
And for those who do not know who Giulio Glorioso was, we could inform you that he was born on 1931, he was a star in the earliest days of Italian Baseball and in hs career -with five teams- he won 235 games and lost 88, posted a 1.90 ERA and amassed 2,884 strikeouts in 2,706 innings pitched.
He won the ERA tittle six teams with two batting tittles, four Pitching Triple Crowns and one Batting Triple Crown.
Rest in Peace.