Hometown History #80: Francis C. Bartolomei’s Baseball Dreams
Franklin has produced a fair number of prominent athletes – as well as being home at various times to various Patriots personnel.
The Franklin High School class of 1939 had one superstar, Francis C. Bartolomei – known as Franny to his friends and classmates. The yearbook notes. This year our class was well represented in the athletic activities. We were represented in Football by Tillie Pizzi, Arthur Vozzella, Lester Valente, James Kerrigan, Esto Mucciarone, and Bill Haughey; in Basketball by Bill Haughey, Tillie Pizzi, Franny Bartolomei; and in Baseball by Franny Bartolomei, Tillie Pizzi, Frank Mucciarone and William St. John.
In fact. Bartolomei is reported to have earned letters in four varsity sports during his time at the old (nearly brand new back then) Davis Thayer High School.
But baseball appears to have been his true love. Indeed, a “dedication” in the year book said...To Francis Bartolomei ... A three-year contract for the Yankees. They wouldn't go wrong. Nothing quite that notable happened but after high school, he did embark on a career in baseball. According to a posting on the Historical Museum web site, he played shortstop for a minor league teams including the Hamilton Red Wings, Washington Red Birds, Allentown Wings, Houston Buffaloes, Asheville Tourists, Elmira Pioneers, Rochester Red Wings, and Lynchburg Cardinals from 1940-1943 and the Erie Sailors in 1946.
A May 1941 profile in the Washington, Pennsylvania Observer-Reporter gives a flavor of his life far from home and highlights his new nickname, “Barty.”
Francis (Barty) Bartolomei, pint-sized Redbird shortstop is in his second season of professional baseball. The chunky Italian youngster is 19 years old, stands 5 feet, 7 inches and weighs 165 pounds. He lives in Franklin, Massachusetts, where he was born January 3, 1922.
Barty, who bats and throws from the right side, was a star in football, baseball and basketball in high school, winning four letters in each sport. He was a backfield performer in football, a guard on the basketball court and a short-stop on the diamond.
After finishing high school last year he joined the Hamilton club in the PONY League, where he won the regular shortstop assignment. Playing in 70 games he batted .254. Included in his collection of 62 hits were nine two-baggers, a triple and three home runs. He drew 32 walks, struck out 42 times and batted in 36 runs.
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Published details on Bartolomei grow thin after the early 1940s, but it appears the Majors did not beckon him on and Massachusetts reclaimed him. He married Barbara P. Laliberte, dying in 2004 in Brewster, Massachusetts. He is buried at St. Mary’s cemetery in Franklin.