Al Cihocki

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Albert Joseph Cihocki

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Biographical Information[edit]

“Playing ball was hard work if you wanted to turn pro, but nothing compared to working in a coal mine... When you saw your father come home every day, dead tired and for little pay, you knew you wanted something better." - Al Cihocki

Infielder Al Cihocki debuted in 1942 as an 18-year-old third baseman with the Batavia Clippers of the Class D PONY League. He had a very good first year, appearing in 98 games, hitting .342 with 128 hits, including 7 home runs. He made the league All-Star team at the hot corner. Cihocki put his baseball career on hold and joined the US Coast Guard, serving at the Curtis Point Naval Station in Maryland, for the next two years (1943-1944) during World War II. He was given a medical discharge from the service at the start of 1945 and joined the roster-slim Cleveland Indians for the season. Al was a utility infielder for the Indians, appeared in 92 games while hitting .212 (60-for-283) with 24 RBI while fielding .955 playing all over the infield (except first base). This was Al's only shot at the major leagues.

Al spent the next seven seasons (1946-1952) with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League, hitting .280 in 1950. He spent four more active seasons in baseball with the San Antonio Missions of the AA Texas League in 1953 and the Class A Wilkes-Barre Barons in 1954. He returned for a season in 1957 with the Class A Albuquerque Dukes, hitting .294, his best average since 1942. He finished his 12-season minor league career in 1958 with the Class A Allentown Red Sox at the age of 34. During his minor league run, Al appeared in 1,143 games, batting .266 (1,022 for 3,844) with 77 home runs.

Al was a cousin of Steve Bilko. He came from a family of immigrants from central Europe - his father's parents had come from Poland and his mother's from Czechoslovakia. He would have been destined to work in the coal miles of Pennsylvania like his father were it not for his athletic prowess. Following his playing career, he was head baseball coach at Luzerne County Community College for many years. He died in 2014 at age 89.

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