Italian sport: Giulio Glorioso, the diamond of Italian baseball
- WTI Magazine #130 Aug 22, 2020
Giulio Glorioso is one of the most famous Italian athletes of the 50s and 60s. He was an Italian baseball player born in Udine in the region Friuli Venezia Giulia in 1931 (he died in Rome in 2015), and became a baseball legend in Italy, where this sport so loved in the United States has never been as successful as football, volleyball and basketball for example.
A pitcher, who also played as an outside pitcher and hitter, so important that he contributed with his performances to make baseball a sport known to many Italians: he had a career impossible to imitate, lasting 26 years, from 1948 to 1974. Still today he is considered the greatest Italian player ever and not only for the many years he spent on the baseball fields, but for all the records he set and that nobody ever broke.
To understand his extraordinary career, let's start from the beginning. In 1948, Italy was only a few years out of the Second World War. The landing of the Allies in Anzio, near Rome in the Lazio region, had also left its mark regarding the sporting tastes of the Americans and so in Anzio and in the nearby city of Nettuno, they began to play baseball. Even the largest multi-sports club in Europe, SS Lazio, had a baseball team with the pitch in Rome, the capital of the Lazio Region.
After making his debut in the Rome railway team, at the end of 1949 Glorioso started playing with Lazio. The following year, at just 20 years old, he became the first Italian player to land in the United States, where he played for a few months in the Minor League with the Cleveland Indians.
He soon returned to Italy again with Lazio and won the championship in 1955. In his long career he played with Roma, Milan, Nettuno, Parma, Lazio again and ended his extraordinary career in 1974 with Roma. In total, he won 7 championships, a European Championship and a Champions Cup, becoming one of the most winning players in history.
Glorioso was also the pioneer of the Italian national team. On August 31, 1952, at the National Stadium in Rome, the Italian national baseball team played its first match against Spain. 12,000 spectators attended the game, a surprising number, because baseball was not a very known sport. At the stadium, a speaker read the rules several times to let the Italians follow the game. Glorioso, who was only 21 years old, was the leader of the Italian national team and his pitches were already effective, even though Spain won 7-3. It was an exciting challenge that managed to make the spectators understand the beauty of baseball and in the following years many Italians began to cheer for the teams in their cities. The game was blessed by Pope Pius XII who made the announcement from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, and attracted spectators and journalists because the opening pitch was made by Gregory Peck, the famous actor who was in Rome on the set of Vacanze romane (Roman Holiday), one of the most beautiful films in the history of Italian cinema. Before the launch, Peck said this phrase to Glorioso: “Go Giulio. Now it's your turn. Let’s play, let’s launch”.
Let's go back to Glorioso's career and his unbeatable records. About him, his teammates and opponents used to say that the arm loading was really fast, the fastest of any hitter. He was a resilient athlete who trained with intensity and was a perfectionist in everything he did, both in training and during the games. His shot reached 80 miles per hour even for more than 10 innings, so he could maintain that strength even after 150 throws.
Glorioso was one of the first players to be included in the "Hall of fame" of Italian baseball, and still holds the strike out record as a pitcher (2,884 in 11 years). In 1951 he made the first no-hit (an entire game without conceding a valid strike out to an opponent) in the history of Italian baseball. In 1960 he made another no-hit, with the Italian national team against Holland. In addition to being a great pitcher, he was also an excellent player in the box with 45 home runs and 512 valid bats.
Throughout his long career he has been on the pitcher’s mound 345 times, playing 2712 innings, winning 226 games and getting 2902 strike outs (average points earned 1.86). For 5 years he gave an average of less than one point earned every 9 innings, for 6 years he was elected best pitcher in the league and for 7 years leader of strike outs. In 1961, 1962 and 1963 Glorioso won the triple crown of the throwers (more strike outs, number of wins and less points earned on average).
Other records were set with the Italian national team. He played there for 21 years, from his debut match against Spain in 1952 until 1973. He has participated in 11 editions of the European Championships and 2 of the World Championships, collecting a total of 68 appearances.
Glorioso was an extraordinary player, considered the diamond of Italian baseball, who made several generations of Italians fall in love with baseball. And after him, no one has managed to reach all his records that remain engraved in the history of this sport.