Samuel Joseph Dente
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 175 lb.
- High School Kearny (NJ) High School
- Debut July 10, 1947
- Final Game September 13, 1955
- Born April 26, 1922 in Harrison, NJ USA
- Died April 21, 2002 in Montclair, NJ USA
Before the 1941 season, Sam Dente was signed as an amateur free agent by the Boston Red Sox. The 19-year-old infielder was assigned to the class D Owensboro Oilers, where he appeared in 77 games, hit .273 and fielded .901 at the shortstop position. Sam spent two more seasons in the minors (1942 and 1943) before the United States Military asked for his services in World War II in 1944 and 1945.
Sam returned in time for the 1946 season and played 134 games for the class A Scranton Red Sox and hit .289 in 509 at bats. In 1947, Dente was hitting over .300 for the AAA Louisville Colonels and made his major league debut for Boston with a pair of singles off Hal Newhouser of the Detroit Tigers on July 10th. This was the start of a nine-year run for Sam as a big league infielder.
On November 18, 1947, Sam was traded to the St. Louis Browns along with Clem Dreisewerd, Bill Summers and $65,000 for Ellis Kinder and Billy Hitchcock. He had a decent year, hitting .270 in 98 games and fielding .958 at the shortstop spot for the Browns in 1948, but on October 4th he was traded again, this time to the Washington Senators for Tom Ferrick, John Sullivan and $25,000.
"Blackie," as he was called, got off to a fast start at the plate in 1949. The Senators were in first place early in the season and the fans at Griffith Stadium were chanting, "We'll win plenty with Dente." Sam hit a career-high .273 but the team eventually settled into the cellar. He did hurt the Red Sox's pennant chances in late September with a game-winning hit off Mel Parnell in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Boston.
Dente played the next two seasons with the Senators before being traded to the Chicago White Sox for Tom Upton on November 27, 1951. "Blackie" was then claimed by the Cleveland Indians after being waived by the White Sox in 1953. He played a significant role for Cleveland in its 1954 pennant-winning campaign, after joining the team from Indianapolis in July. Despite playing with a broken knuckle, he hit over .300 in the month of August after replacing the injured George Strickland at shortstop. He finished the year with a .266 mark after spraining his ankle in early September.
At the end of the 1955 season, he had two ear operations to correct a hearing and equilibrium problem, then retired with a .252 major league career batting average and a .960 fielding percentage. "Blackie" had 13 active seasons in professional baseball from 1941 through 1955; part of those years were spent in the minors, where he appeared in 572 games and had a .261 batting average. He had virtually no power, hitting only four homers in his 8-year ML career -- an average of one very 634 times at bat.
Sam, who was vice president for Merit Mailers Incorporated, died April 21, 2002, at age 79 in Montclair, NJ. Dente would have been proud to know that his grandson Rick Porcello was selected by the Detroit Tigers as a first round pick in the 2007 amateur draft.
Aside from baseball, Dente also played soccer for the Kearny Americans in the American Soccer League.