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Dick Mcauliffe Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: November 29, 1939 in Hartford, Connecticut
Died: May 13, 2016 in Farmington, Connecticut
Biography | show moreshow less
Dick McAuliffe
This article was written by John Cizik and is presented in part, courtesy of the Society for American Baseball Research

Richard John McAuliffe was born in Hartford, Connecticut on November 29, 1939. He grew up in the tiny town of Unionville, a burg "not exactly a breeding spot for major league athletes," according to Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray, another Connecticut native. "Chickens are more along its line... Unionville has about nine months of winter," Murray recalled. "And summer is apt to be three months of thunder showers." McAuliffe played baseball at Farmington High School under legendary coach Leo Pinsky, whose teams won 411 games and three State Championships. "He was an excellent baseball coach," McAuliffe recalls. "A very tough individual. When you didn't show up for practice, when you didn't run hard, when you didn't hustle, he'd take you right out of the ballgame and sit you right down. I thought those were good rules he had, and I think that gave me a lot of desire and hustle." At 5'10" and 140 pounds, Dick was also the fullback on Farmington's football team, and a star basketball player.

Dick caught the attention of Red Sox scout Joe Dugan during a tryout camp at Bristol's Muzzy Field during his junior year in high school. McAuliffe was 16 years old. Dugan told him to come back around the next year when he turned 17. Unfortunately, the McAuliffe family was a victim of the 1955 flood that damaged many houses in Collinsville and the Farmington River valley, and Dick spent the year helping restore housing instead of returning to Farmington High. He did finish school a year later, leading the Indians baseball team to the state tournament at Muzzy Field as a pitcher and third baseman. "I was pitching a game in the State Championships... I always had a good arm in high school," Dick says. "My first eleven pitches I threw were all balls. And we had two guys on and a 3-0 count on the next hitter, so Leo Pinsky took me out. [H]e put me at third base... and I made a couple of good plays... and got a couple of hits. Detroit Tigers scout Lew Cassell was in the stands during that tournament and McAuliffe recalls their conversation after that game. "You're not a pitcher, by the way, are you?" Dick remembers Cassell asking. "I think he already knew that, but he was pulling my leg. Then he gave me an application to fill out... and about two weeks later he was in the area, and he called my parents on a Sunday afternoon and he asked if I wanted to sign professionally...and I said 'yes, I do.' " McAuliffe signed shortly after the class of 1957 graduated, guaranteeing a $500 bonus and an opportunity to play professional ball immediately.

The June 22, 1957 New York Times reported the signing of the "infielder-outfielder from Hartford, Conn." He would report to the Class D NY-Penn League Erie (PA) Sailors, one of nine Detroit farm teams in 1957. "I flew from Bradley Field in Hartford to Erie," McAuliffe remembers. "I go to the ballpark... and the team had just left to go on the road to Jamestown, which was a couple hour bus ride, but they would return that evening." The cab driver took him downtown to the general manager's office. The G.M. told Dick to go across the street and check into the team hotel, and come back for dinner. "I had my only suit and tie on, thinking he's going to take me out to a fancy restaurant," Dick says. "I get there, and he takes me to the corner drugstore and buys me a 69-cent macaroni and cheese dinner! And then we drive over to Jamestown... we watched the ballgame and the first thing that came to my mind after I watched... was yes, I can handle this." The 18-year-old played 60 games, mostly at shortstop, had 175 AB, 36 hits, 9 doubles, 16 RBI, and a .206 batting average. "Don't they throw curves in Unionville, sonny?" He was asked. Charles Kress was the Erie manager, and the team led the league in attendance with a total of 54,923. The Sailors won the Eastern League championship, beating the Batavia Indians three games to one.

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