Date and Place of Birth: September 20, 1922 Reedley, California
Died: December 3, 1997 Fresno, California
Military Unit: US Navy
Area Served: United States
Major League Stats: Vic Lombardi on Baseball-Almanac
Victor A. Lombardi was born on September 20, 1922 in Reedley,
California. Lombardi was young when the family moved to Tulare,
California, and the left-hander pitched for the Tulare High School
Lombardi attended a Dodgers try-out camp in Fresno in 1941 and was signed by the club. He joined the Johnstown Johnnies of the Class D Penn State Association that year and fanned 204 batters in 136 innings for a 12-3 record and league-leading 1.85 ERA. In 1942, he was assigned to the Santa Barbara Saints of the Class C California League and was 9-4 over 20 games, before joining the Durham Bulls of the Class B Piedmont League. Lombardi was 4-1 in 13 outings for the Bulls and had a 2.06 ERA.
Despite two promising seasons, Lombardi left baseball in 1943 to work at his uncle’s grape and plum vineyard in California. On May 13, 1944, he entered military service with the Navy but received a medical discharge for inadequate eyesight on June 6.
Lombardi was back with the Dodgers organization in the spring of 1945 and had agreed terms to pitch for Montreal. While pitching at the Dodgers’ Bear Mountain training camp, Branch Rickey decided the lefty would be useful addition to the Dodgers depleted pitching staff and Lombardi made his major league debut with Brooklyn on April 18, 1945, pitching two hitless in relief against the Phillies. He went on to win 10 games against 11 losses that season and had 13 wins in 1946 with 12 in 1947. He was traded to the Pirates in December 1947 and won 10 games that year. The following year he was 5-5 and in 1950 – his last year in the majors – the 27-year-old was 0-5.
Lombardi pitched in the minor leagues until 1959, with stops at Hollywood, Toronto, Seattle, San Diego and Portland. Lombardi was also a keen golfer and became a teaching professional when his baseball career ended. In 1967, he won the National Left-Handed Open Golf Championship in Hollywood, Florida.
Vic Lombardi, who was inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978, passed away on December 3, 1997, in Fresno. He is buried at the Tulare Public Cemetery.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 29, 1945
Created February 18, 2015.
Copyright © 2015 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball
in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.