Sibby Sisti

Sibby Sisti

Major League Baseball Player

While power hitters and over-powering pitchers normally grab headlines in Major League Baseball, the contributions of role players are just as critical to a ballclub’s success. Few examples in major league history drive home that point more emphatically than the case of Buffalo’s Sibby Sisti.

A Canisius High graduate, Sisti joined the National League’s Boston Braves at the tender age of 18 in 1939. With the exception of time spent in the military (1943-1945), and a year at Indianapolis in which a .343 batting average won him Minor League Player of the Year honors from the Sporting News, Sisti spent the next fifteen years in a Braves uniform. His hustle and perseverance in the face of numerous injuries made him a fan favorite, and his mastery of the subtle nuances of the game and constant state of readiness won him the confidence of managers Casey Stengel and Billy Southworth.

One of the first true utility players, Sibby played every position on the diamond except catcher. His most notable contribution as a substitute came in 1948, when he took over the second-base duties for injured star Eddie Stanky in June, and helped spark the Braves to their first pennant since 1914.

Sisti’s career statistics are not eye-catching. His highest batting average for a season was .281, and his career high in doubles and runs batted in were a modest 24 and 45, respectively (in 1941). However, in a game where every position on the field demands specialized skills, Sisti crafted a career from the ability to play any position at any time, often on short notice. Baseball’s offensive stars rest secure in the familiarity of a single defensive position; Sisti played with the pressure and anxiety borne of the fact that speed and multi-faceted defense skill was the key to his survival in the big leagues. In that perspective, Sisti’s .244 career batting average is respectable, and the longevity which produced 1,016 major league games and 2,999 major league at-bats is testament to the value of his versatility. Speed was the key for Sisti, offensively and defensively (he was also a shrewd and skillful bunter).

After retiring as a player, Sisti managed and coached in six different cities, including Buffalo. Although his active life in baseball ended in the 1970s, Sibby has maintained ties to his former colleagues, frequenting the golf tournaments at which former big-leaguers gather to reminisce and spin tall tales.

Sisti achieved great popularity with the fans during his days in Boston (he is a member of the Braves Hall of Fame), and has also achieved notoriety in his hometown with his selection to the Canisius High Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2001, his selection to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame adds a fitting exclamation point to his baseball career.