Anthony Francis “Tony” Cuccinello was a second and third baseman. He played for the Boston Bees (1936–1940) and the Boston Braves (1942-1943). He was the older brother and uncle of former major league players Al Cuccinello and Sam Mele.
A native of Long Island City, New York, Cuccinello led the National League second basemen in assists and double plays three times and hit .300 or better five times, with a career high .315 in 1931. He was selected for MLB’s first All-Star Game, played on July 6, 1933 at Comiskey Park, batting as a pinch-hitter for Carl Hubbell in the 9th inning. He also was selected for the 1938 All-Star Game.
On August 13, 1931, as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, he went 6-6, scoring 4 runs and recording 5 RBI in a 17-3 rout of the Boston Braves.
In Boston in 1936, Cuccinello had one of his best offensive seasons, batting .308 and driving in 86 runs. Tony’s excellent defensive performances continued in Boston, as well, and he teamed with a player he later described as the finest of the shortstops he played with in his career, Eddie Miller.
In 1939 Cuccinello suffered a knee injury after Dick Bartell of the Chicago Cubs slid into him at second base, and surgery sidelined him for two months. His first game back after the surgery Cuccinello had 10 assists in a 22-inning game while playing second base. The knee never really improved despite the surgery, and Cuccinello was traded to the Giants midway through the 1940 season.
In 1942, but instead was called by his former Brooklyn manager Casey Stengel, then with the Boston Braves, who asked Cuccinello to join his staff as a player-coach. In 1942 Cuccinello threw batting practice, coached third base, and pinch-hit for Stengel, and in mid-season 1943 was released so that he could sign with the Chicago White Sox, a team desperately in need of players to replace those who enlisted in the military. Cuccinello, who suffered from chronic laryngitis, was not drafted into military service, and therefore was able to continue his career.
In a 15-season career, Cuccinello was a .280 hitter with 94 home runs and 884 RBI in 1704 games.
Following his playing retirement, in 1947 Cuccinello managed in the Florida International League for the Tampa team (named the Smokers, after the city’s large cigar business), and a year later coached for the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. He returned to the major league to coach with the Reds (1949–51), Cleveland Indians (1952–56), White Sox (1957–66; 1969) and Detroit Tigers (1967–68). He coached under former teammate Al López in Cleveland and Chicago and was a member of Lopez’s 1954 and 1959 American League championship teams, and the 1968 World Series champions.
Cuccinello died in Tampa, Florida at the age of 87.