Joe Vitelli

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Antonio Joseph Vitelli

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Biographical Information[edit]

Joe Vitelli was a pitcher for eleven years (1931-1945) - two in the Majors (1944-1945) and nine in the minors (1931-1935; 1937-1940), losing two years to the Military and two years to inactivity. Vitelli broke into Organized Baseball in 1931 at age 23 with the Decatur Commodores and then was with the Cumberland Colts in the Middle Atlantic League (7-6, 4.43 in 1932), the Wheeling Stogies in the Middle Atlantic League (1933) and the Johnstown Johnnies in the Middle Atlantic League (1933-1934). He was 16-9, 3.23 for Wheeling and Johnstown in '33, third in the MAL in wins. In 1934, he was 7-3, 4.33.

Vitelli then appeared with the Norfolk Tars in the Piedmont League (5-4, 3.94 in 1935) and Akron before going with the Albany Senators in the New York-Penn League in 1937 and remaining with them through 1940; the league was renamed the Eastern League in 1938. Vitelli was 17-10, 2.66 in '37, tied for 4th in wins and third in ERA. He fell to 7-11, 4.00 the next year then was 11-8, 3.85 in 1939 and got no decisions in 1940. Overall in the minors, he was 71-52.

In March 1942 he was inducted into the U.S. Army 628th Reconnaissance Company during World War II at Camp Livingston, LA. In May 1944 he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates as a batting practice pitcher but during the season he appeared in 4 games for them, and, at 36 years of age, broke into the big leagues on May 30, 1944. His four games were all in relief with no decisions, finishing all four, striking out two, walking seven and hitting one batsman with an ERA of 2.57 and a WHIP of 1.714. In 1945 he appeared in one game for the Pirates as a pinch runner, but then quit the team because they wouldn't give him a chance to pitch so he could make more money. He played his final MLB game on May 30, 1945 at age 37 and the Pirates released him on June 14, 1945.

He worked for Allegheny County, PA for years, serving as head of its baseball clinics. He died at age 58 at a VA Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA on February 7, 1967 and is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in McKees Rocks, PA.


Principal sources for Joe Vitelli include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (none) (WW), old Baseball Registers (none) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) ; and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.

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