Bob DiPietro’s major-league career was a true cup of coffee with 12 plate appearances in four games at the tail end of the 1951 season, one hit, one walk and a .091 batting average.
Bob was born on September 1, 1927, in San Francisco. He was a standout pitcher and outfielder and also played football and basketball and boxed at San Francisco’s Abraham Lincoln High School. After graduating from high school in 1945, he enrolled at San Jose State University.
He then embarked on a trip across the United States to play in the 1945 Esquire Magazine All American Boys Baseball game. The two managers were Hall of Famers, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. All of the players stayed in New York for 10 days, and worked out together in preparation for the game. Bob found himself in the unexpected position of captain of the Cobb-managed West team.
After returning to California, he began his tour of duty in the Army. He stayed Stateside and was in for only 13 months because the war was over and it was just a matter of mopping up. At Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California, the general in charge of that camp was a baseball fan and had a weak baseball team. Bob was supposed to go to Korea, but was told he was in the medics and on the baseball team.
He got home in February of 1947 and went to spring training after signing with the Red Sox. He made his start in 1947 with San Jose of the Class C California League, where he batted .312 with 21 homers, primarily as an outfielder, but a little bit at third base.
The next year, he made the leap to Class A Scranton (Eastern League) and played second base. He spent the 1948, 1949, and 1951 seasons at Scranton. He was with the Double-A Birmingham Barons (Southern Association) in 1950. After posting three consecutive seasons (1949-51) of hitting .300 at the minor-league level, Bob was called up for his “cup of coffee” at the end of the 1951. He appeared in four of the nine games and went 1-for-11 with one single and a walk. He earned his nickname, the Rigatoni Rifle, by throwing out Mickey Mantle at home plate at Yankee Stadium.
That was the last Bob saw of the major leagues. He continued to play until 1959 with Birmingham, San Antonio, Louisville, San Francisco, and San Diego before retiring with Portland at the end of the ’59 season. He averaged .264 for his last four seasons in the PCL.
He moved to Yakima, Washington, and worked in TV advertising sales and then opened his own advertising agency in 1967 and ran the agency until he retired in 1999.
Bob DiPietro died two days after his 85th birthday, on September 3, 2012 in Yakima after a brief bout with cancer.