Our concluding part of unearthing the greatest Italian-American sportsmen and sportswomen that there has ever been once again looks into the careers of some of America’s best athletes. Already we have seen names such as Joe DiMaggio, Joe Montana and Rocky Marciano. And in this blog we talk about Tony Esposito, Mike Piazza and Lou Ferrigno.
Lou Ferrigno is probably more famous for playing the Incredible Hulk, but in Ferrigno’s case there was no need of special effects as he was one of the world’s top body builders. In the highly successful TV series of the 70’s, Lou Ferrigno played the incredible green monster that was Doctor David Banner’s alter ego. Ferrigno started his bodybuilding career early in life, and as a bodybuilder he won two Mr Universe titles, an IFBB Mr America title, and featured in one of the best bodybuilding documentaries ever, Pumping Iron. His career took him from being a bodybuilder, a fitness trainer, fitness consultant to eventually acting.
The Incredible Hulk was not the end of his acting career, he subsequently provided the voice for many spin-off cartoon series of The Hulk and appeared in feature films such as The King of Queens, Love You Man, and Sinbad of the Seven Seas.
Mike Piazza is probably one of the best Italian-American hitting catchers of all time, and a baseball great. His professional career was long and successful, having played sixteen seasons in MLB (Major League Baseball). His two major teams were the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets but he also played for the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and the Florida Marlins. In his glittering career, Mike Piazza recorded four hundred and twenty-seven home runs, which incredibly three hundred and ninety-six were hit as a catcher. Mike Piazza is widely regarded as one of the best offensive catchers that has ever played baseball.
In 2013 his skill and extraordinary record was acknowledged by the New York Mets when he was granted Hall of Fame membership. And three years later he was elected into the prestigious Baseball Hall of Fame. Piazza went on to be the owner of an Italian football team, A.C.Reggiana.
One of the finest Italian-Americans to play hockey is Tony Esposito. Tony Esposito was also one of the greatest ice hockey goalkeepers to have ever played the sport in the NHL (National Hockey League). He was one of the first goalkeepers that ever used the now familiar Butterfly Style. For the most part Tony Esposito played for the Chicago Black Hawks, and he is actually the younger brother of the famous Phil Esposito, another hockey legend. It was Tony Esposito who made the wearing of number 35 for a goalkeeper traditional, and the number was retired by the Black Hawks in respect to him when he retired.
The contribution that Italian-Americans have made to sport is without doubt considerable. Already many records and legends have been made and born and there are certainly more to follow. Italian-Americans have proved they can compete against the best in the world in any sport and are definitely up there with the elite.