Dino Restelli’s Hot Start

With a slow news day (and week), let’s go back in time…
Those of you my age or older should vividly remember Kevin Maas of the New York Yankees. Maas came up in late June of 1990 and proceeded to crank 10 homers in his first 25 contests. He didn’t quite keep up that pace but managed to hit 21 in a total of 79 games in 1990, pushing him into second place for the AL Rookie of the Year. Things were never quite as good for Maas after that. He was the Yanks regular 1B in 1991, but was merely average. He hit 23 homers in 500 ABs in 1991 (vs 21 in 254 ABs in 1990). Following 1991, he would have just 21 more homers in his career.
Dino Restelli of the Pirates came up with a flurry of homers in June of 1949, including a pair in his second game off the Braves and Warren Spahn. All told, Restelli walloped 6 homers in his first 10 games and seven in his first 12. He too cooled off quite a bit. In 1949 he hit .250 with 12 homers in 232 at bats. The Bucs finished in the second division, well behind the Dodgers. Restelli didn’t get much of a chance beyond that. He didn’t play with the Big Club in 1950 and got just 38 at bats in 1951. Then he was done with the majors.
He passed away in 2006 near San Francisco where he grew up. His obituary mentions that “illness” hampered his career, but doesn’t go into specifics.
Here’s an article about Restelli and other baseball rookies printed in July of 1949 in Time Magazine. Nobody writes like that anymore. Here’s a link to a San Francisco Seals page, from whom the Pirates got Restelli. It includes a photo of Restelli as a Seal.
In the book Branch Rickey in Pittsburgh by Andrew O’Toole several of letters from Rickey are re-printed. One of them is from Rickey to John Galbreath, dated 5/7/1951. The letter outlines the players on the club. Rickey states plainly regarding Restelli that “I would be very much pleased if it so happens that Restelli would be retained as one of our twenty five players…”
So, I wonder what happened to him. What illness befell him? Why was he not included in Rickey’s plans when the Pirates kept so many players who, as their performance and the W-L record of the Pirates in the early 1950s proved, were not suited for MLB play?

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3 Responses to “Dino Restelli’s Hot Start”

  1. Dave Says:

    Randy,
    Dino Restelli suffered from Parkinson’s Disease which began affecting him shortly after making his splash with the Pirates.

  2. Randy Linville Says:

    Thanks for the info, Dave. That’s interesting. I read in his obituary that he was suffering from Parkinson’s. It didn’t state that he had been suffering from it since his 20s. That’s a shame. Thanks again.

  3. sludgeworm Says:

    I read that he suffered from Parkinsons before his death but the only thing I saw was that after his career in baseball he became a policeman(I think) and tried to go on disability with a back injury, the claim was denied because it was a “Congenital Back Injury” so maybe this was actually the start of the Parkinsons…


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