Episode 77 – Tony Lazzeri, Baseball Legend with Lawrence Baldassaro

Interview with Lawrence Baldassaro, author of Tony Lazzeri: Yankees Legend and Baseball Pioneer.

Recorded: July 27, 2021

Running Time: 26 minutes 54 seconds

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20 Comments on “Episode 77 – Tony Lazzeri, Baseball Legend with Lawrence Baldassaro”

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  10. Frank Gado

    Thanks for the interview with one of my favorite former students, Larry Baldassaro–an exceptional guy. Years after his graduation, he told me I was the first to instill pride in him as an Italian-American. That made ME proud. My father’s mantra to me was, “Frank, when they call you a Wop or a Guinea, they don’t give a shit where in Italy your family came from, We gotta stick together and help one another.” My family is Piedmontese, but my father, throughout his life, went far out of his way to lend a helping hand to other Italians ..

    I noticed that, i interviewing Larry, you began by asking where his family was from in Italy. It’s the inevitable question. Italy is a conglomerate of many “nations,” each historically with its own language and culture. Especially in America, each Italian thinks of italianita’ in terms of his own region. Preseervation of that identity is laudable, but it is also dangerous. My first language was Piedmotese; my second (and I can’t account for how I Iearned it) was Italian, the language of the three Italian radio stations in the New York City area); I didn’t begin to speak English until I started kindergarten. (In seventh grade, I was informed that my performance on a national test showed I had a larger English vocabulary than the active vocabulary of the New York Times–marking an interesting family journey from four grandparents in Italy who entered adulthood illiterate.

    I applaud your efforts to stimulate greater awareness of our Italian roots, but I would also caution that, although the idea of one Italy carried a people through centuries of division and suppression, consciousness of our italianita’ should recognize the breadth of that ethnic expression. The great majority of Italian-Americans trace to il meridione, and that has fixed us all in the stereotypes associated with Southern Italy. That fact has always made me feel like a minority within a minority. Yes, Southerners have borne the brunt of anti-Italian prejudice, but that should not warrant a view of those of us who hail from the North as “other.”

    There is so much to say about ourselves and the process of incorporation into America. I welcome Chris Cuomo’s injection of his Italian background into his
    roadcasts, and I recognize so many elements common to my upbringing as well. But while giving greater attention to our progress as a class, I think we also need to recognize the rich diversity behind our common denominator.

    You are thirty years my junior; I am a terminal cancer patient. May your good work continue

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