Thursday, December 12, 2013

#622 - Phil Gagliano

By this point in his career Phil Gagliano’s position – despite what the card says – was pinch hitter. During the Seventies Phil had made himself a bit of a franchise in that role and in his 41 pinch at bats during the '73 season he hit .300 with six RBI’s and a .480 OBA. But Phil was no liability in the field. In fact he put in time at every infield and outfield position during his career. Phil had come to Cincinnati before the season with outfielder Andy Kosco for pitcher Mel Behney, a one-time big deal draft pick out of Michigan State who never really made it. Both Phil and Andy would serve as excellent role players for the division winners in ’73 in their penultimate seasons. Phil had a fat grin on just about every one of his Topps cards so it’s too bad that this would be his final one.

Phil Gagliano was born and raised in Memphis and at Christian Brothers high school, where he was all-state as a senior in hoops, he was teammates with Tim McCarver. Phil was signed by St. Louis just before his 18th birthday in ’59 and got things rolling the right way the next year with a .290 average in D ball and a .315 in Double A ball during which he was primarily a shortstop. In ’61 he moved up to Triple A and over to second base where for the next three years he averaged a .263/7/43 stat line while regularly finishing among league fielding leaders. After a short debut early in ’63 he returned to St. Louis for the first half of the ’64 season where he backed up Julian Javier at second before moving back to shortstop and hitting .262 in Triple A the rest of the way. In ’65 Phil returned to The Show and demonstrated his versatility while starting a bunch of games at second, third, and right field, and putting up a decent RBI total in the process. He would fill a reserve role in those positions the balance of the Sixties, getting his primary starts at third in ’66 and at second the rest of the way. He won another Series ring in ’67 and returned to the championship in ’68, getting some reserve work in both Series. Early in the ’70 season he was traded to the Cubs for pitcher Ted Abernathy.

With the Cubs Gagliano presaged his pinch hitting ability by lofting a two-RBI double in his first Chicago at bat. He spent the balance of the season doing back-up work at second before a trade to Boston after the year for infielder Carmen Fanzone. With the Sox Phil got some occasional outfield starts but his specialty was his pinch work: in ’71 he put up a .333/0/8 stat line with a .481 OBA in his 22 at bats and in ’72 his line improved to .346/0/10/.438 in his 26 pinch at bats. He then moved to Cincinnati and one last post-season before playing things out in ’74 in more reserve work. Phil finished with a .238/14/159 line for his MLB work and was a career .269 hitter in the minors. He went hitless in his seven post-season at bats.

Gagliano had made St. Louis his permanent home while playing with the Cards and after his playing time was over began his post-baseball life there. For two years he worked as a salesman for Paramount Liquors, a local wholesaler. He then moved to a firm called Durbin Durco, an industrial hardware company, and during a 17-year stay there moved from sales to become its head of operations. He then did other work until he retired in 2002 and relocated to the small town of Hollister, MO. A couple of his grandkids, Kyle and Conner Mach, have done some recent time in the Giants and Yankees systems, respectively.

Topps uses the same theme I have for this blog in the star bullets. That hobby was usually associated with a New York guy but maybe I'm being too provincial. SABR has a bio on Phil but you have to buy a book to read it.

To keep things rolling I am going to forgo the Watergate stuff for a bit. For this hook-up Phil and Bernie just missed each other and had a bunch of teams in common:

1. Gagliano and Bob Gibson ’63 to ’70 Cardinals;
2. Gibson and Bernie Carbo ’72 to ’73 Cardinals.

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