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  • Writer's pictureMaine Baseball HOF

DiPaulo, Alphonzo Funzi (1988)

DiPaulo, Funzi (88)

In recognizing ‘‘Funzi’’ DePaolo, the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame honors one of the venerable Telegram League’s outstanding schoolboy pitchers. From 1940 to 1942, Portland High’s coach, Jimmy Sibson, could hand the ball to his stocky little southpaw (was he really 5’2’’?) and count on a sturdy performance. And It usually resulted in a Bulldog win.

In 1941, supported by a strong cast including Nundi Romano, Hank Stillman, and a superior battery mate, Bob Graff, Sibby’s ‘‘meal ticket’’ posted a 7-0 regular season mark, with 50 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings — and PHS won the Telly pennant. The only blemish on the DePaulo slate was a loss to Hyme Shanahan’s Lewiston nine in the unofficial state tourney.

1942 was almost a carbon copy — another 7-0 regular season and a second All-Telegram League pitching selection. But Funzi’s hitting improved from .242 to 344 He was a fixture in the outfield when not on the mount, and again the Bulldogs led the league through the regular season. But in 1942, the Telegram League employed a new playoff system and, in a startling upset, Deering’s Shirley Hamel bested DePaulo and the heavily favored Bulldogs to cop the Telegram League title.

DePaulo finished his high school career at 20-2.

Coach Sibson said of his ace, ‘‘The DePaolo boy 1s quite a character. He has all the confidence in the world.’’ And he had a baffling curve ball, once fanning

12 of 13 Deering Rams in a brilliant relief stint, notching 17 K’s in one tilt against South Portland and recording 15 strikeouts in succession against Cheverus. On one occasion he beat South Portland and Westbrook on successive days, going the full nine innings in each contest, with ten strikeouts in each game. It was noted ‘“‘the big difference was Portland’s Funzi DePaulo, ever available to step in the box from left field and fling out the fire’; the ‘‘puzzling lefthander can pitch indefinitely with poise and stamina’’.

After high school Funzi, who had received his baseball baptism at Bayside with the Haskell Aces and other youth clubs, joined the Navy for the duration of World War II. An elbow injury suffered in the service, ended any hope of future hurling greatness, although he did pitch with success with local semipro nines. He was a teammate of Hall members Herbie Swift and the late ‘‘Tyke’’ Parker on a strong Century Tire team and he performed for Joe Discatio’s Days Jewelry team.

But Funzi has never lost his love for baseball, and many a South Portland lad has benefited from the coaching he provided for Little league and Senior Little League teams — often sponsored by his small neighborhood store.

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