- Bats Right, Throws Right
Tony Lonero was an Olympic catcher.
Lonero (listed as Antonio or Anthony Lo Nero in Italian sources) played high school ball in the Pittsburgh area and went to LSU for college. As his paternal grandparents were Italian, he was recruited to play in Italy's Serie A in the early 1980s. He moved to Italy and would settle there after his baseball career ended. In 1982, he hit .384 for Nettuno with 18 home runs and 61 RBI in 40 games (it was the aluminum-bat era in Italy). In the 1982 Amateur World Series, he hit .200/.243/.371 as the main backstop for the Italian national team; his two homers tied Michele Romano for the team lead.
In 1983, Tony batted .372 with 16 HR and 63 RBI in 57 games for Nettuno. He split catching duties with Eddy Orrizzi in the 1983 European Championship and batted .312/.371/.469 with 7 runs and 8 RBI in 7 games as Italy won the European title. He hit .361 for the 1984 Nettuno club with 10 home runs and 45 RBI in 56 games; he also pitched, going 1-0 with a 4.20 ERA. He represented Italy in the 1984 Olympics, one of three people from southwestern Pennsylvania chosen, along with David Farina and Mark Talarico. Lonero did not play in 1985 then moved to Roma for 1986, hitting .368/.453/.610 with 37 RBI in 48 games. He had a 11.70 ERA on the mound.
Overall, Tony hit .370/.456/.664 with 194 runs, 206 RBI, 62 doubles and 52 home runs in 201 games in Italy. He fielded .979 and threw out 34.3% of attempted base-stealers. He coached in Italy until the late 1990s.
In 2001, Lonero was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He did not give athletics due to illness at that point, though, becoming a long-distance bicyclist. A documentary (Ride to Finish) was made about his life.