Aspromonte in 1962
June 19, 1938 |
Brooklyn, New York
|September 19, 1956, for the Brooklyn Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 28, 1971, for the New York Mets|
|Runs batted in||457|
Robert Thomas Aspromonte (born June 19, 1938 in Brooklyn, New York) is a retired American professional baseball player, primarily a third baseman, who appeared in 1,324 games over all or parts of 13 seasons (1956; 1960–71) in the Major Leagues. He played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Colt .45s/Astros, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, all of the National League. He was the last Brooklyn Dodger to play in the Major Leagues when he made his final big-league appearance on September 28, 1971, as a member of the Mets.
Aspromonte signed with his hometown Dodgers in 1956 after he graduated from Brooklyn's Lafayette High School and made his pro debut in the Class A Sally League. In September 1956, however, the pennant-bound Dodgers placed him on their roster, and on September 19, during a lopsided 17–2 triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals at Ebbets Field, Aspromonte received his MLB baptism at age 18, striking out as a pinch hitter for Sandy Amoros in the eighth inning. It would be his lone appearance in a Brooklyn uniform. He spent the next three seasons in minor league baseball before making the 1960 Los Angeles Dodgers roster out of spring training. On May 5, 1960, his four hits in five at bats, including his first big league home run (off Lew Burdette), led the Dodgers to a come-from-behind win over their then-rival Milwaukee Braves. However, he spent most of the 1960 season in Triple-A, where he batted .329 in the American Association.
The following year, 1961, was Aspromonte's first full season in the Majors, but he appeared in only 47 games, starting two at third base and three at shortstop, was given only 62 plate appearances, and he hit .241 with two runs batted in. The Dodgers exposed him to the 1961 Major League Baseball expansion draft, and he was selected by the Houston Colt .45s with their second selection, the third player taken overall. On April 11, 1962, Aspromonte, playing third base and inserted into the leadoff position, became the first batter in Houston's MLB history. He singled to left field off Don Cardwell of the Chicago Cubs for the club's first hit, then scored its first-ever MLB run when the next batter, Al Spangler, tripled. Aspromonte would score two more runs that day, as the Colt .45s stunned the Cubs, 11–2.
Aspromonte was the starting third baseman for the Houston franchise (renamed the Astros in 1965) for its first six seasons, and led National League third basemen in fielding percentage on two occasions (1964 and 1966). He twice batted over .280 and reached double-digits in home runs (in both 1962 and 1964). But in 1968, he lost his starting third base job to Doug Rader.
He was a backup third baseman and utilityman for the 1968 Astros and the 1969–70 Braves before his final season. Returning to New York City at age 32, he started 93 games at third base for the 1971 Mets, twice as many as former regular Wayne Garrett. But Aspromonte batted only .225 with five home runs. In his final game, the last Brooklyn Dodger to play in the Majors went hitless in three at bats, with an RBI, against the Cardinals' Steve Carlton at Shea Stadium.