A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Friday, February 1, 2013

Archi Cianfrocco

There are some posts ideas that I keep putting off and putting off.  One of them is my tribute to Archi Cianfrocco.  I'm finally getting around to this, and it's long overdue.

Archi Cianfrocco is one of my favorite players of all time.  Most people know him (if they know of him at all) because of his awesome baseball name, but I always thought Archi was awesome because of his defensive versatility.  Like this Steve Finley card (another all time favorite), Archi was always in the background, not the limelight.

In 1996, the most pivotal season of my Padres fandom, Archi batted a career high .281, but more importantly, he played all eight defensive positions.  In the 77 games where he made it onto the field, he spent the most at first base (33, usually giving 34 year old Wally Joyner a chance to rest), while only spending one game in left field (a game he started) and one as a catcher (for just one inning).

In these days, where you have controversies about where somebody is going to play (see: Hanley Ramirez v. Jose Reyes - neither of whom is still stuck on the Marlins), how cool is it that he was willing to do whatever the team needed?  I guess if you're a bench guy, you'll do whatever you gotta do to get in the game, but still, the guy was a solid team player, something I could relate to during my Little League days.

Archi played college baseball at Purdue, and was chosen by the Expos as their 5th round pick in the 1988 amateur draft.  He spent over five years in the minors before making his debut on April 8th, 1992.  

Here are all of the rookie cards that I have of Archi.

This is probably a good point in the post to mention the correct pronunciation of his name: Ahr-key Sin-frock-oh.  Some of his earlier minor league cards have him listed as "Arci".  His given name is Angelo Dominic Cianfrocco.

He is of Italian descent and was born in Rome, NY.  His dad was a union worker who manned a furnace and worked with molten brass and copper at a company founded by a guy named Paul Revere.  Due to his upbringing, he didn't think twice when he was asked to be a replacement player during the player strike in 1994.  There's evidence that the players who scabbed were blackballed from the league by the players.

Archi now lives in San Diego's North County, and his son went to the same high school as my sister.  This is a postcard sized card that I think my parents picked up when they were picking my brother up from martial arts class.  I guess Archi was there and was signing them for the kids.  I can't remember what kind of martial arts it was, but it wasn't karate or tae kwon do.

Things learned from the back of Archi's cards:
  • In 1992, he wasn't even on the 40-man roster in spring training, but still managed to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster (1992 Leaf #493).
  • What impressed the Expos in 1992 was his .283 spring training batting average, and the 13 home runs that he hit in the offseason Mexican League (1992 Score #99T).
  • Took over the Expos first base job when Tim Wallach moved back to third base (1992 Score #99T).
  • On May 9th, 1992, with his parents in the stands, he hit his first major league home run and had five RBIs against the Giants (1993 Upper Deck #736).
  • He hit the second longest home run of the 1993 season on April 11th against the Rockies, a blast that went 470 feet (1994 Topps Stadium Club #221).

Other pointless trivia...
  • On May 9th, 1994, Tom Browning broke his arm throwing a pitch, and Cianfrocco was the batter who was facing him.
  • Archi won the Home Run Derby during the Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown in 1997.

This is my all time favorite Cianfrocco card, and one of my top 10 favorite cards of all time.  I got it from the card shop closest to my parents house in San Diego last summer from the 50 cent bin.  Probably my best find ever, especially since Padre related base cards were going for three bucks.

Anyways, Archi is awesome.  I was always stoked when he was the announced pinch hitter, since that's usually how he entered the game.  His last year in the majors was in 1998, when he only had 72 at bats and had career lows in all offensive categories.  He didn't get any playing time during the Padres postseason run that made them the National League Champs.  I believe that he spent a year in Japan with the Seibu Lions in 1999, and then retired from baseball.

Since most of the things that I've come across the blogosphere on Archi tend to focus on the uniqueness of his name, I'll finish up with two videos from Key & Peele, a sketch comedy show on Comedy Central.  These happen to be two of my favorite sketches, and they both touch on the topic of names.

By the way, it should go without saying, but if anybody has any Cianfrocco cards that I don't have yet, feel free to send 'em my way.  These are 12 of the 23 cards of his that I have.

Take care, everybody.  And thanks to Archi for being so awesome, although I'm sure he won't be reading this.


  1. Awesome write-up on Archi - and I put that Key & Peele sketch up on the TV every time we have a party. Even people who have already seen it gather round and watch.

  2. Great post, Marcus!

    I found a Cianfrocco card that I'll be sending your way in the near future, I hope you don't have it already. I won't tell you exactly which one it is because I don't want to ruin the (hopeful) surprise. :)

  3. I love that Jacksonville logo.