Andy Spognardi, had he stuck around long enough, could have eventually earned the nickname “Doc.” Instead, the young Boston College captain turned Red Sox infielder chose to leave baseball, finish his medical studies, and make a career out of being a family doctor.
Andrea Ettore Spognardi was born October 18, 1908 in Boston to Dominicangelo and Clotilde (Martella) Spognardi – the last of four children. Only three were born in Boston. Dominic and Clotilde came to the United States in 1900 and 1902, respectively, taking their oldest daughter with them on the second trip. Dominic was born in Pescolanciano, Italy, married Clotilde, and then the cabinet maker and his wife left Naples to make their way in the United States for the rest of their lives.
Andrea was anglicized to Andrew and then Andy as he made his way through high school. After graduating from Hyde Park High, he enrolled at Boston College. There, the flashy shortstop earned national attention for his play – and the captainship of his college nine. His summers were spent playing amateur ball with Roslindale, a local Boston area nine. While in school, he was courted by at least three teams, finally agreeing to sign with the Red Sox in 1932.
With Boston, he played in 17 games between September 2, 1932 and September 25, 1932, batting .294 and finishing the season with a four-game hitting streak. He got his first hit in the eighth inning of his third major league game, slamming a single off of Washington’s Firpo Marberry on September 5, having entered the game as a replacement for Rabbit Warstler an inning earlier. Certainly Spognardi was in line for an opportunity in 1933 – the 1932 Red Sox finished in last place and Spognardi had proved he could play in the majors.
However, Spognardi had other options. He enrolled at Tufts University to earn his medical degree. And, he couldn’t leave classes early for spring training. So, he asked the Red Sox if he could skip spring training and join the team in June when his classes ended. G.M. Bob Quinn said, “I would want Spognardi to do whatever he thinks will be best for him, but I told him that he could not be of any use to us if he waited until June, although I would get him a job at that time if he decided to stay with his studies.”
Spognardi chose to finish school and become a doctor. Before starting a family practice of his own in the Boston area, he played amateur ball in Roslindale and briefly played minor league ball for Jersey City. And, his medical training helped on at least one occasion when dealing with players injured during games in which he played. However, he focused his attention on medicine soon after and built his private practice for the next five-plus decades before retiring in 1988. He married Mary Christine O’Donnell in 1940 and they lived a very long life together. Spognardi lived just hours past the beginning of the next century, passing away at 91 on January 1, 2000 in his home in Dedham, Massachusetts. He was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 US Census
Massachusetts Social Security Records
Massachusetts Naturalization Records
Massachusetts Death Index
Photos from 1932 Boston College Sub Turri Yearbook.
Monahan, A. J. “B.C. Hangs Defeat on the Crusaders,” Boston Globe, June 19, 1929: 17.
Photo, Boston Globe, July 31, 1931: 17.
“Spognardi Leaves With Sox Tomorrow,” Boston Globe, August 31, 1932: 20.
“Baseball or Medicine – Andy Spognardi Must Pick One,” Madison Capital Times, January 18, 1933: 11.
“Andy Spognardi Signs With Jersey City,” Boston Globe, August 17, 1933: 17.
“Jim Shea Hurls One-Hit 5-0 Win,” Boston Globe, August 20, 1935: 20.
Clotilde C. (Martella) Spognardi – per her obit in Boston Globe, December 24, 1952: 16.
“Andrew E. Spognardi,” Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, January 14, 2000: 5A.
Dr. Spognardi was my doctor when I was 14. He made house calls. We were all impressed that he played for the Red Sox, but we loved that he was a great doctor. 35 years after he took care of me, I called him with a question about my medical history. He gave me the answer immediately without referring to any records. I was impressed . It reminded me of doctor in Field of Dreams.
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