In the 1960’s left-handed pitchers ruled baseball, with the likes of Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax and Warren Spahn patrolling the mound. Needless to say, teams were extremely interested in identifying the next southpaw to potentially take their place in the pantheon. One such prospect was Norm Angelini, who may not have become a star but did accomplish the impressive feat of reaching at pitching well at the major league level.
Growing up in San Mateo, California, Angelini played baseball like many of his peers. It just turned out that he was better than most of them. He went on to play collegiately for the College of San Mateo and then Washington State University. So tantalizing was his talent that he ended up being drafted three times—but he never signed with any of them. In 1966 he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles, and then by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1967 January draft. Finally, he was taken in the eighth round of the June phase of the draft by the New York Yankees.
Prior to the 1969 season, the 21-year-old signed with the Kansas City Royals as an amateur free agent. He began as a starter in their minor league system, but by 1971 had transitioned to primarily relieving and found his true success, including a 1.41 ERA in 51 Triple-A innings that year.
Angelini earned a call up to the Royals in 1972 and performed admirably, going 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 21 relief appearances. He earned a win in his first big league game on July 22 against the Baltimore Orioles, despite giving up a solo home run to slugger Boog Powell in 1.1 innings.
Despite his success, Angelini made just seven appearances for the Royals in 1973. Just like that, his big league career was over at the age of 25. In his 28 career games he was a combined 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA and three saves. He continued to play professionally for another eight years, working at the Triple-A level for the Royals, Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos.
Keep reading for Angelini’s answers to a few questions about his baseball career.
Norm Angelini Questionnaire:
If you could do anything differently about your career, what would that be?: Nothing- I gave it everything I had every time I got the chance to play.
Who was your favorite coach or manager?: Jack McKeon- He gave me the chance to get to the big leagues.
What was your favorite team you played on?: The 1980 Denver Bears. We won over 100 games that year.
What was the strangest play you ever saw?: A fly ball that hit our left fielder in the head and it went over the fence for a home run.
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