Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20, 1932: Orsatti and The Boys Put One On Brooklyn

     On July 20, 1932, the Cardinals offense exploded for 22 hits during a 16-5 romp of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Sportsman's Park. Third baseman Jake Flowers led the attack with five hit in six trips, which included a big fly, while center fielder Ernie Orsatti rapped out four hits in five trips which included two doubles in an eight run seventh inning. Jim Lindsey, who had taken over pitching duties for Tex Carleton after the starter worked just one inning locked down the win, as he gave the team eight strong innings as they opened a can on the Brooklynites.

     Orsatti is an interesting figure from the baseball's past, as he performed as a stunt double in the offseason for silent film star Buster Keaton. His brother broke into the moving picture industry as an assistant director, and Ernie soon followed. He did a little bit of everything in the industry: prop man, cameraman, assistant director, as well as stuntman.

     While in Hollywood he began playing ball on a studio baseball team. Mike Donlin who had spent 12 years on a big league diamond before turning to acting saw him play and said he had what it took to play at the big league level. The word got out, and the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League scouted, then signed him, and sent them to a lower affiliate out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Just 5' 7" and a 150 pounds the odds might have been stacked against him, but he tore it up in his first season with a .340 average. The production caught Branch Rickey's attention, and the man who was said to have had the ability to spot talent from a moving train inked him to a deal to play within the Cardinals organization.

      Orsatti continued to impress, and by the end of 1927 he had a 27 game cup of coffee with the club. Orsatti returned in 1928 and helped the team win the National League pennant. The 1928 pennant was the first of four for Orsatti, who also helped claim the flag in 1930, and the championship years of '31 and '34. His playing days with the Birds came to an end after the 1935 season. In the overall picture Orsatti would be what you call a fourth outfielder. With that said he was a very productive fourth outfielder who spent nine seasons with the Cardinals batting .306, with 327 RBIs, and 10 home runs. He spent a little bit of time on the PCL diamond following his major league career, before devoting his full attention to Hollywood, as he joined his brother Vic in starting the Orsatti Talent Agency. The siblings represented many well known names which included the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy.

     The story of Orsatti struck me as such an interesting one, as Hollywood found its way into being intertwined with the career of a former Cardinal. He passed away in 1968 at the age of 65. He lived quite the life, and I bet he had a lot of stories to tell from the silver screen and the baseball diamond as well. One of those stories from the diamond would be about the day the team rapped out 22 hits en route to beating those Bums from Brooklyn. Probably one of a million stories from the life of Ernie Orsatti.

Check out the box score here:

You can check out the career numbers of Orsatti here: 


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