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Bruno Ablondi

 

Date and Place of Birth: 1927 Pearl River, NY
Date and Place of Death:    June 2, 1951 Korea
Baseball Experience: Semi-Pro
Position: Shortstop/Pitcher
Rank: Corporal
Military Unit: Headquarters Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, US Army
Area Served: Korea

Bruno Ablondi was probably the greatest all-around athlete ever to play in Pearl River, New York.

Bruce F. “Bruno” Ablondi was born in Pearl River, New York in 1927. He attended Pearl River High School and was one of the school’s finest athletes of all time. All-County in baseball, basketball and football his senior year (1947), the fleet-footed shortstop batted .441 that season (.368 over four years, making All-County three times). He also pitched and threw an 8-0 one-hitter to clinch the county championship over Haverstraw in 1947 (the only hit was a ball that fell for a single after the outfielder lost it in the sun). As a quarterback, Ablondi threw 16 touchdown passes, amassed 2,086 yards and captained the team to a share of the county championship title in 1946. As a forward on the basketball court, he led the team in scoring four straight years, finishing with 752 points in 64 games.

Ablondi was awarded the prize given annually by Knights of Columbus 2052 Triune Council for being the most proficient of his class in athletics. He also received the Silas Champ Award for being the most valuable player of the year in three sports.

Ablondi went to Syracuse University for a try-out for a scholarship for football. Overshadowed by far bigger players he never got a chance to throw or run. Instead, he played both semi-pro baseball and football before being called into military service in December 1948. Following basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, he was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Ablondi returned to Pearl River after receiving his honorable discharge in December 1949, and played semi-pro baseball with the Pearl River Cubs of the Rockland County League. It is also believed he had a trial with the New York Yankees during this time. The 23-year-old was recalled to service on October 17, 1950, and on December 16 of that year, Corporal Ablondi was shipped to Korea, where he was assigned to Headquarters Company, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division.

Serving with Ablondi in Korea was Ben Capua, who grew up in the Bronx. The two had met when they served as reservists and in an effort to keep Ablondi’s pitching arm in shape Capua acted as his catcher during the journey to Korea aboard the troop transport USNS Fred C. Ainsworth (T-AP-181).

On April 17, Ablondi wrote a card to Arthur Evans, chairman of the Pearl River-Nauraushaun Honor Roll Committee, saying in part, " It's been six months today, but it feels like six years. Everything fine here, and I'm hoping it really ends soon.”

Ablondi was due to ship home in September 1951, and planned to become engaged to Marguerite Bush, but on June 2, a squad of North Korean troops caught Ablondi’s squad off guard. Hand grenades were hurled at the GIs and Ablondi was killed.

His old friend, Ben Capua, who in civilian life worked as an embalmer, was assigned to preparing the fallen for transport home. He never returned to the funeral business after the war.

Corporal Bruno Ablondi’s remains were returned home in October 1951. Requiem Mass was held at St. Margaret’s Church, Pearl River, on November 2. With Capua in attendance, Ablondi was buried at St. Anthony's Catholic Cemetery in Nanuet, New York.

In 1951, friends and neighbours raised a fund to purchase the Bruno Ablondi Memorial Trophy which was awarded annually to the winner of the PSAL football title.

In 1979, Ablondi was elected to the Rockland Sports Hall of Fame. Former teammate, Bert Baker, who went on to coach in high school for over 30 years, said Ablondi was the best all-around high school athlete he had ever seen.

In 1998 he was elected to the Pearl River High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Tom O’Brien, who grew up in Pearl River and has fond memories of Ablondi, says he was “ humble, kind and had a way of making YOU feel important.” He adds: “Looking back, we in Pearl River were blessed to have had such a tremendous role model for the youth of our community.”

Sources:
Orangetown Telegram – June 6, 1947
Orangetown Telegram – June 13, 1947
Orangetown Telegram – December 17, 1948
Orangetown Telegram – December 16, 1949
Orangetown Telegram – May 25, 1951
Orangetown Telegram – June 22, 1951
Orangetown Telegram – June 29, 1951
Orangetown Telegram – November 2, 1951
Orangetown Telegram – November 30, 1951
Journal News – July 25, 2010
prhs57blog.blogspot.com

Date Added December 24, 2012

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