Al Brancato (1919 – 2012)
Albert Brancato (May 29, 1919 – June 14, 2012) was a shortstop and third baseman for the A’s from 1939 to 1941 and again in 1945. He was known to have one of the strongest arms in the American League. Brancato died on June 14, 2012, at age 93 at Sunrise at Granite Run, an assisted living facility in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
He and his wife, Isabel, were longtime residents of Upper Darby. They would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary next month. In addition to his wife, Mr. Brancato is survived by daughter, Sr. Helen Brancato, two sons, Albert and David; a brother; a grandchild; and two great-grandchildren.
Brancato lettered in four sports at South Philadelphia High School (baseball, football, gymnastics and basketball) and participated on four championship teams. He had played in many local baseball leagues and was signed by Connie Mack while still a senior at Southern. He received a $1,000 bonus but bought no new car or fancy clothes. Every penny went to his parents for the family business. His parents, Italian immigrants, owned a grocery store in South Philadelphia, at the corner of Rosewood and Porter. Mr. and Mrs. Brancato had raised a family of seven children, four boys and three girls.
In 1938, his pro career began at Williamsport and Greenville (where he roomed with Mickey Vernon). In 1939 he joined the Philadelphia Athletics and split the year between Philadelphia and Williamsport. At Williamsport, he led the Eastern League (Class A) in RBI. In 1940, Al was with the big club for the entire year playing over 100 games at shortstop and third base.
His major league career was interrupted by military service in the US Navy during World War 2. Brancato served in the Pacific Theater and played on the Navy’s all-star baseball team composed of the American and National League players in military service. While entertaining the troops at the Army and Navy all-star games Brancato appeared alongside Joe Dimaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Bill Dickey, Tom Ferrick, Bob Feller, and Eddie Collins Jr.
Brancato returned to the Athletics at the end of 1945 after nearly four years in military service. He was sold to Toronto in the International League during the winter, and although he played 8 post-war years in the minor leagues, mostly AAA and AA level, he never returned to the majors.
In 1953, he managed Elmira in Eastern League (a Dodger affiliate) and later coached St Josephs College baseball team for six seasons. Brancato was elected to the South Philadelphia High School Hall of Fame and Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Brancato’s death brings the number of living former Philadelphia A’s players to 31.