Phil Mazzeo - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Phil Mazzeo

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: January 31, 1910 San Antonio, TX
Date and Place of Death:    June 23, 1987 Los Angeles, CA
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Umpire
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit:  US Army Air Force
Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operations

Phillip G. Mazzeo, the son of John and Isabella Mazzeo, was born in San Antonio, Texas, on January 31, 1910. His father, an Italian immigrant, ran a barber shop in San Antonio, and by 1920, the family had moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the move again a few years later, the family settled in Los Angeles, California, where John operated another barber shop, and young Phil worked as a stevedore at the docks, then in the distribution department of a newspaper.

In 1940, 30-year-old Phil Mazzeo began umpiring in the Pacific Coast League, moving to the Mountain State League in 1941. "Phil Mazzeo, who distinguished himself as the worst umpire in the Coast League last season, no slight distinction," wrote Art Cohn in the Oakland Tribune in May 1941, "is now toiling in the hillbilly Mountain State League." In June 1941, Mazzeo was on the move again, back to California, to work in the Class A California League.

He entered military service in March 1942, at Fort McArthur in San Pedro, California, and having attended infantry school at Fort Benning, Georgia, he served with the Army Air Force at Barksdale Field, California, where he managed the baseball team. Mazzeo attained the rank of captain and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry, while being wounded twice during the Italian campaign.

Mazzeo was discharged from service in October 1945, and returned to umpiring in the Pacific Coast League in 1946, and remained until quitting to go back to his circulation department job at a Los Angeles newspaper in November 1947. However, he didn't sever all ties with baseball. In 1950, he had an uncredited role as an umpire in the 1950 William Bendix baseball movie, "Kill The Umpire." During the 1970s, while living in Burbank, California, he worked as a scout for the Kansas City Royals.

Phil Mazzeo passed away on June 23, 1987, in Los Angeles, California. He was 77 years old and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

Date Added February 3, 2018

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