Ernie Lombardi (born April 6, 1908 in Oakland, California - died September 26, 1977 in Santa Cruz, California), was a Major League Baseball catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Cincinnati Reds, the Boston Braves and the New York Giants during a Hall of Fame career that spanned 17 years, from 1931 to 1947. His nickname was "Schnozz".
Ernie Lombardi played his rookie season for the-then Brooklyn Dodgers in 1931, but was traded to the Cincinnati Reds shortly before the start of spring training for the 1932 season. Lombardi flourished his first year in Cincinnati, batting .303 with 11 home runs and 68 runs-batted-in. However, he became a national star in 1938 when he hit a league-leading .342 with 19 home runs, drove in 95 runs, and won the National League's MVP award. Ernie Lombardi became one of the Reds' most productive and popular players of all time. He also has the distinction of catching both of Reds left-hander Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters, accomplished on June 11 and June 15, 1938. To date, Vander Meer's feat has not been matched.
In 1942, the Boston Braves purchased Lombardi's contract, and despite his leading the league in hitting that season with a .330 batting average (albeit, in only 309 at-bats), Boston opted to trade him to the New York Giants after the season. He enjoyed three productive if unspectacular seasons with the Giants before seeing his playing time diminish over the next two seasons. He retired after the 1947 season, having compiled a .306 career batting average, 190 home runs, 990 RBI, 601 runs and 430 walks.
The six foot, three inch, 230-pound Ernie Lombardi was legendarily slow-footed. An opposing manager once jokingly said that Lombardi was so slow, he ran like he was carrying a piano - and the man who was tuning it. Despite this, he became an outstanding catcher on the basis of his strong, accurate arm and his ability to "call" a game. Ironically, for his career, he is eight-for-eight in stolen bases.
Ernie Lombardi was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1958, and posthumously into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1982 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.