Yesterday, progressive icon and former New York governor Mario Cuomo passed away at age 82. Many, many well-deserved words will be written about Cuomo, few of which will remember him as a kid signed to the Pittsburgh Pirates. So we’ll do that here, instead.
A few months before his 20th birthday in 1952, Cuomo signed as an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates, garnering a $2,000 signing bonus after coming out of St. John’s. Legend says he used that money for an engagement ring for his longtime wife Matilda. The Buccos assigned him to the Brunswick Pirates of some small league no one really needs to know about. Cuomo played just over half the season for Brunswick, 81 games for a team that went an unremarkable 62-78. Cuomo was equally pedestrian, posting a .244 batting average before taking a pitch to the back of the head in pre-batting helmet days, ending his shot at sandlot glory.
That fame would come later in politics. This is not a political blog…you can find out all sorts of info on Cuomo and the way he led elsewhere. The obits are all over that aspect.
I’m not 100% sure which one the 19/20 year old Cuomo is in the picture above…I’m thinking the guy fourth from left in the front row, third from the left if you don’t count the twerp kneeling. The only reason I’m not totally sure is that he might be the tall guy in the middle back row, terrible image quality be damned. Only Cuomo was listed as 6’0 even for the ’52 Pirates, and that guy towers over his crew, meaning that might be the 6’4 Fred Green or the 6’3 Earl Fackler.
Here’s a pic of Cuomo at St. John’s.
So yeah, Cuomo up front.
The Albany archives confirms:
Mario Cuomo, the baseball player. He played one year in the Pirates’ minor league system in 1952 as a center fielder. pic.twitter.com/JzEe7WMLio
— Albany Archives (@AlbanyArchives) March 24, 2014
Go Buccos. RIP Mario Cuomo.