Perhaps the most notable thing about Bob Carmo’s life is his six seasons in minor league baseball or his near-miss chance at the NFL.
When Carmo’s playing days were over, the Blairsville native found an enviable level of professional success that probably outshines a lot of what he did in sports. He is one of the designers of the power strip, a critical piece of equipment that can be found in our houses, apartments and offices, as well as those metal racks at grocery stores that hold plastic shopping bags in place, and several other inventions he holds patents for.
Yet it is for his time on the baseball diamond six decades ago that Carmo will be honored on May 22 when he is inducted into the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame.
“I’m really excited about it,” Carmo, now 83 and battling Parkinson’s disease, said through his wife of 59 years, Rose Ann. “It’s been a long time since I played baseball.”
Carmo, a 1957 graduate of Blairsville High School, played in the Philadelphia Phillies’ and Chicago White Sox’s organizations from 1958 to 1963. Mostly an outfielder, Carmo was a career .262 hitter in 592 minor league games, with 56 home runs and 354 RBIs . He played all over the country, from Class D Elmira (NY) to Class A Eugene (Ore.), And some outposts in between.
Carmo grew up on Point Street in the Walnut Hill section of town. Along with his friends, Little League played in the summer and any other sport they could get into the rest of the year. By the time he got to high school, Carmo was an excellent all-around athlete. As a senior, Carmo started at the end of the football team, averaged 14 points per game for the basketball team, and finished third in the state in the 880-yard run and the javelin on the track and field team.
But those things were diminished by Carmo’s exploits on the diamond. The high school didn’t sponsor a baseball team in those days, so in the 10th grade, Carmo hooked up with the Brenizer Miners of the Derry-Unity League. In three seasons with the Miners, Carmo batted .385 and played outfield and first base, and occasionally pitched.
Carmo was hitting .388 the summer after graduation when he was spotted by a Phillies scout at a tryout camp in Johnstown and signed to a contract for $ 1,000. He began his professional career in the spring of 1958 with an assignment in Tennessee with Johnson City of the Class D Appalachian League. Halfway through the season, he was sent to another Class D team, this one in the Georgia-Florida League, in Brunswick, Georgia.
He struggled that first year in the minors, batting only .192 in 82 games. But he rebounded the following season with the Class D Elmira Pioneers of the New York-Pennsylvania League, hitting .279 with 10 homers and 82 RBIs in 117 games.
Over the next three years, Carmo got promoted to the Bakersfield Bears of the California League, to the Magic Valley (Idaho) Cowboys of the Pioneer League, and to the Des Moines Demons of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League. He spent 1962 back in Magic Valley, and started the 1963 season there before the Phillies released him 17 games into the season. Carmo had become a favorite for the Cowboys, but he didn’t progress as fast as he would have liked.
“It doesn’t bother me too much,” he told the Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News the day of his release. “In fact, I felt better after (they) told me than I did before. The first couple of seasons, I really worked hard. But I never felt I got a good chance at going higher. ”
On May 25, Carmo signed with the Chicago White Sox, who sent him to the Eugene (Ore.) Emeralds of the Class A Northwest League. But Carmo was released again.
Rather than chase another opportunity, Carmo decided to get on with his life.
“I know it was hard for him,” Rose Ann said. “But we got married and we had to get jobs. It was time. ”
That doesn’t mean Carmo didn’t enjoy his run in the minors. Among the many highlights of Bob Dockowski’s 1960 Stockton flamethrower, Bob Feller and Paul Waner.
Dalkowski is somewhat of a mythical figure in baseball lore. He reportedly had a fastball that some scouts said were between 105 and 110 mph. Dalkowski, the inspiration for the “Nuke” character LaLoosh of the 1988 baseball movie “Bull Durham,” had a dubious season of the year Carmo faced him: He finished 7-15 with a 5.14 ERA, but with 262 strikeouts… and 262 walks.
In one game, Carmo had a single and a double in back-to-back plate appearances against Dalkowski.
“He discussed about playing baseball a lot,” Rose Anne said. “He always likes to tell stories about some of his games. He really enjoyed it. ”
After baseball, Carmo attended an open tryout for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in 1964 and was signed as a punter. Soon after, he enrolled at Case Western Reserve University and left sports in his rearviewmirror, except for recreational golf and travel softball team he played with for many seasons.
Carmo started working as a design engineer and helped create products, ranging from hospital electronic parts to a device that helps open threaded jar lids.
But come May 22, Carmo’s career on the baseball diamond will be showcased. Although he won’t be able to attend the banquet – his nephew, Mike Carmo, will represent him – Carmo is excited to join some of his childhood friends in the hall of fame.
“It’s a privilege,” he said. “It’s really a nice honor. My friends and family are really happy for me, and I’m really excited. ”