The one-time baseball great apparently had struck his head against a banister in slipping or falling in the house, family friends said. A coroner’s officer declared Lazzeri had been dead approximately thirty-six hours when the body was discovered at 4 P.M. (PST) today and said death might have been due to a heart attack.
Anthony Michael (Push-‘em-Up-Tony) Lazzeri, the soft-spoken native of the Cow Hollow district of San Francisco, was one of the most popular men in modern baseball. His cool disposition and slugging prowess earned him the reputation of being regarded as one of the game’s finest “clutch” hitters.
He became a star after going to the Yanks in 1926 and played a major role in helping the club to win the pennant that year. While he won fame for his timely hitting, he was noted also for failing to deliver when the chips were down in the world series game between the Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was fanned in the seventh inning with the bases full by Grover Cleveland Alexander in one of baseball’s most dramatic moments.
Tony was born on Dec. 6, 1903. His father wanted him to stick to a boiler factory job but the future baseball idol wanted to play baseball. He played it so well that he became known as a baseball player’s ballplayer. He was sure death to ground balls and was never known to give an opposing player the “spikes.”
Playing against the Philadelphia Athletics on May 24, 1936, Lazzeri became the first major leaguer ever to hit two home runs with the bases full in one game. In the same contest, he batted in eleven runs for a new American League record.
That feat enabled him to set two other major league records, with six home runs in three consecutive contests and seven homers in four successive games. He also tied the big-league standard of five homers in two consecutive games and equaled the modern mark of four long hits in one contest.
Tony almost quit baseball in 1923, when he became discouraged because he was shifted back and forth between the Salt Lake City club and other minor-league teams. He was optioned to the Eastern League, decided to quit and advised the Salt Lake City club of his decision. He stayed out of the game for about ten days and then found a place with the Lincoln team in the Western League.
The 1925 season found him in the Pacific Coast League hitting .355 for Salt Lake City, his string including sixty homers, which pounded in 222 runs. It was in the autumn that the Yankees bought him for $75,000.
He retired from baseball after his release as a manager of the Wilkes-Barre Eastern League club in 1943. He had closed his major league career in 1939 after serving briefly with the Chicago Cubs and the Brooklyn Dodgers. When he left the Yankees at the finish of the 1937 season, his major-league batting mark was .292.
Lazzeri retired to business life two years ago. He became a partner in a San Francisco tavern.