Tony Gianunzio was a teenage pitching sensation who had a fastball that could eclipse 90 mph and “a curve like nobody else had.” His skills on the mound were so good that the Chicago Cubs had their eye on him.
Gianunzio however, would join the U.S. Coast Guard, fighting in World War II, and his love of baseball would eventually be replaced by his love of teaching.
“My dream really ended with the war,” said the vet who would go on to teach English and writing in high school for nearly 40 years.
That dream lived again for one day this weekend, as the 92-year-old Gianunzio took a major league mound for the first time.
Via Fox Sports:
More than 70 years after he hoped to make his major-league debut, a World War II veteran fulfilled his goal of pitching at Wrigley Field.
Tony Gianunzio walked to the mound Sunday and threw out the first ball before the Chicago Cubs hosted the Kansas City Royals.
Wearing a Cubs cap, the 92-year-old Gianunzio threw from just in front of the rubber. His pitch reached the plate on a couple of bounces, with Cubs pitcher Justin Grimm serving as his catcher.
“It feels just like 1942 when I could do it,” Gianunzio said. “I could throw that ball beyond 90 miles an hour, and I had a curve like nobody else had one.”
No doubt. Gianunzio served his nation, taught countless children throughout his years as a teacher, and finally makes his major league debut – just a little bit later in life than he may have expected.
He is a true American hero.