Mancuso: My “Goombah” Will Be Missed

Sadly the news came today about the passing of 93-year old Tom Giordano, known as “T-Bone” to all of us at the ballpark and in the press box. The oldest and longest reigning scout in the game of baseball passed away with family and friends at his bedside down in Orlando Florida.  

This is the second obituary yours truly has posted this week and hope there will be no more for a long time. For now though, myself and the baseball world mourns the passing of a baseball legend who was responsible for spotting and recommending that Cal Ripkin Jr. and Manny Ramirez lived their dream on the baseball field.

This was a scout, over 73 years in the game, who spotted more than one Hall of Famer. And the baseball world considered “T-Bone” a Pope. Just ask those who were associated with that kindness and firm handshake and the impact of that was a baseball legacy.

He walked in the press box with a cane and you had to bow to this icon as if he was a Pope. All he wanted was a firm handshake.

Up until his unfortunate illness, Tom Giordano was still employed with the Atlanta Braves as the advanced scout. My friends, even at his age, he was a baseball God. Every pitch and  crack of the bat and it was logged with consistency up in the press box or behind home plate.

Simple, they don’t make scouts. They are made to do what they do and after a brief career on the diamond it was scouting . Those associated with “T-Bone” said it was a blessing and gift that he saw that part of the game.

William Coppola and Howie Karpin, columnists for NewYorksports.com, were fortunate to be associated with this Baseball Pope of the press box.  Coppola worked side-by-side with “T-Bone” with the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves. He assisted with the pitch counts, logging the pitches and also arranged for “T-Bone” to arrive at the ballpark as his ability to drive got more difficult in his later years.

Karpin, the senior New York  official scorer, who sat in the same press boxes at Yankee Stadium and Citi field with “T-Bone” said Thursday, “I got to meet “T-Bone”  number of years ago but one of the few regrets that I’ve had in my career was that we didn’t meet earlier.”

“T-bone”, Coppola, yours truly, and a few others would meet at the official time of 6PM for the press dining room meals. It was baseball talk and about life.  After all “T-Bone” was also our Godfather and saw it all. Words from the oldtimer was worth every minute. He was to yours truly the “Goombah” which has a true meaning from one Italian to another.

Then it was time to get the lineups and go to work. Tom Giordano, who got the name “T-Bone” because his father would prepare him a steak before his minor league games, continued to meet and greet. He managed to clock every pitch.

“You see that,” he said a few years ago. “What type of pitch was that,” he would ask. Yours truly said, “Slider at 85.” To which “T-Bone” said about the slider from Yankees’ closer David Robertson, “That wasn’t a slider.” He was correct. It was a Robertson fastball.

This was a test to assure that this writer was watching the game as good as he was. Except that “T-Bone” briefly had his eyes closed and could tell the velocity and type of pitch by hearing the ball go in the catcher’s mitt.

Hey, how do you contest the knowledge of a baseball icon? You can’t with someone who stopped counting how many games and pitch counts he recorded over the years.  

Similar to the sentiments of Howie Karpin, the wish here is that we met sooner.  The past seven years were memorable. He called this columnist “Cus” referring to the late and great boxing trainer Cus “D’Amato.

“Your knowledge of boxing is evident,” “T-Bone” would say to yours truly. “You also know the game of baseball,” he said.

Thing is, yours truly was blessed to have learned the game more  from this icon. He proudly displayed championship rings on his right hand from the 1983 World champion Orioles, a team Ripken was a part of. And on the left it was the Texas Rangers 2011 championship ring.

John Hart was the President of Baseball Operations of that Rangers team. “T-Bone” and Hart were longtime friends. “T-Bone” was his mentor and showed him the ropes as a minor league manager in the Baltimore Orioles organization.

That was just a part of this iconic baseball scout. “T-Bone” left an impact and Opening Day in seven weeks won’t feel the same in the Yankee Stadium press box up in the Bronx. He was old school as it gets. Technology and new school analytics were never a part of his language in this new era of baseball.

The past week it was a conclave of family and friends at the home of Giordano’s daughter down in Orlando. That family of baseball friends who said goodbye blessed him at his bedside. “T-Bone” would say in a raspy voice, “Thank you for being a grateful friend.”

They said, “T-Bone” would hold their hand and comment he was going to another place soon. In essence he watched his own funeral. But it was a celebration of life and what this man contributed to the game of baseball.

Tom Giordano opted for cremation and a memorial service is planned in Orlando and later in New York. Those baseball friends will be there and celebrate that life of being an icon to the game he loved.

From this perspective, even at 93-year of age, it was too soon. Tom Giordano never looked his age and it was always said that “T-Bone” would still log pitch counts and the velocity well past the 100 year mark.

The baseball God is up in Heaven.  Oh, the pitch counts and velocity will still be under review. We were fortunate to have him all these years.  There may never be another one like “T-Bone” and he gets a vote here as a scout to be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rest In Peace my Friend!

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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