Tucci, Carlo (1995)
One of the most courageous and determined players to gain entrance into the Hall of Fame must be Carlo Tucci of Portland. Born in 1927, the thirteenth of Mary and Andrew Tucci's sixteen children, Carlo overcame areal handicap to become one of the state's leading pitchers in the 1940's.
At the age of one, the Tucci baby contracted polio. By eight he would be moving like other youngsters, thanks to the patient care of his mother.
But the disease left his right leg two inches shorter than his left.
In the early 40's the first "organized" ball for most youngsters was the grammar school. So it was with Carlo, who learned under Tom Connors at North School. From the beginning he was a hard throwing right hander.
He lost only two games at North, both to Andy Lano, who would later be a Portland High teammate and now his teammate in the Maine HoF.
Carlo pitched for Jimmy Sibson's Portland High varsity from 1943 to 1946. As a freshman, he was 3-0 with the varsity and gained honorable mention for the All-Telegram League team. He went 9-4 with several relief stints for the Bulldogs - including eight trips from the bullpen his senior year. In 1945, Carlo helped P.H.S. to the state title along with other HoFers such as Lin Southworth, Andy Lano, Earl Kitchen and Dickie Redmond.
in 1946, after closing his high school career, Carlo was selected to participate in a high school all-star game sponsored by the Boston Post.
The game showcased the best high school performers in New England and was to benefit the National Infantile Paralysis Foundation. Carlo pitched well but was beaten by a Keith Johnson nome run.
in what Carlo described as "my biggest thrill and biggest heartbreak” he attended a 1947 tryout camp of the Brooklyn Dodgers. True to his "Fireball" moniker, Carlo retired nine straight batters, eight by the strikeout route. After the sparkling stint, Clyde Sukeforth, Waldoboro's super scout, met with Carlo and his Bulldog receiver, Bobby Graff, and said, “I curse the day your leg was struck down by polio. If it weren't for that, kid, you'd be headed straight for the majors.
Carlo continued to pitch until 1962 in the Twilight League for several teams, including the South Portland Merchants, C.E. Noyes, Ray's Diner and Yudy's Tire. He said he received his greatest inspiration from his friend and teammate, Lloyd Boynton, who joins him tonight in entering the Hall of Fame.
For 35 years Carlo taught piano, organ and accordion and earned his other nickname "The Music Man”.