Lefthander Pete Falcone was a familiar face to baseball fans in the 1970s and 1980s, stacking together a ten-season career that saw him make 217 starts among 325 appearances for four different Major League Baseball teams.
Here are several facts you may not know about Peter Frank Falcone.
Third Time’s a Charm
Pete Falcone was drafted three times before he finally signed with a major league franchise. First, the Minnesota Twins picked him in the 13th round of the 1972 MLB Draft out of Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, New York. He decided to enroll at Kingsborough Community College (also in Brooklyn) instead.
Next, the Atlanta Braves took Falcone in the second round of the January 1973 Draft. Falcone opted to stay in school for the time being.
But when the San Francisco Giants selected Falcone with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the June 1973 MLB Draft, he finally signed on the dotted line.
Scorching Through the Minors
Falcone made quick work of the Giants’ minor league system, thanks mainly to a penchant for striking out batters. In 246 innings split between Rookie ball, Single-A, and Double-A in 1973 and 1974, Falcone recorded 309 strikeouts — a whopping 11.3 per nine innings.
That helped him rack up a 20-9 record with a stingy 2.52 ERA, mostly as a starter. It also earned him a call up to the major leagues to open 1975.
Traded for a Future Teammate
After a solid rookie season in 1975, the Giants traded Falcone to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ken Reitz in December. The lefty would lower his ERA to 3.23 under the shadow of the archway and established himself as a member of the redbird rotation. That December, the Cards traded fellow pitcher Lynn McGlothen to the Giants … in exchange for Reitz himself. For the next two seasons, Falcone would rely on the man St. Louis traded for him to man third base when he was on the mound.
In December of 1978, the Cardinals pulled off another trade, this time sending Falcone to the New York Mets in exchanges for outfielder Tom Grieve and pitching prospect Kim Seaman. About six years after he left his home turf, Falcone was back, pitching in Shea Stadium, some 25 miles from where he had spent his high school and college years.
Coming Home, Part 2
After four seasons with the Mets — which were some dark years for the team in general — Falcone became a free agent following the 1982 season and signed with the Atlanta Braves … the same team who had drafted him nearly a decade before.
Toward the end of his second season with Atlanta, in 1984, Falcone was 30 years old and enjoying a solid if not spectacular showing as a swingman. It was a role he had filled in 1983, too, and both stints had helped Atlanta content in the old National League West — a stark contrast to Falcone’s run with the Mets.
Nevertheless, Falcone told the Mets and media that September that he was tired of the baseball lifestyle and would be retiring at the end of the season.
When Atlanta fell short of a division title, the lefty indeed hung up his spikes.
Five years later, at the age of 35, Falcone attempted to come back. He signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitched to an ugly 6.21 ERA in 19 appearances between stops at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.
At that point, he put his MLB aspirations on hold and jumped over to the newly formed Senior Professional Baseball Association, where he posted a 10-3 record for the Orlando Juice. He signed on with the Sun City Rays in 1990, but the league folded halfway through the new season.