A legend on the diamond
Joe Angelini holds baseball cards depicting his brother, Norm, when he was a big-league baseball player. Norm Angelini died last month after a battle with leukemia. Kyle Ludowitz / Review

For any young, prospective baseball player growing up in Half Moon Bay, the name Norm Angelini is an inspiration. Angelini is known for, among other things, being the only person to leave the Coastside and make it in the major leagues, pitching for the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves.

Angelini, 72, died on Dec. 21, 2019, after losing his battle with leukemia. He left a lasting legacy on the Coastside, which is where he started playing baseball in Little League on Smith Field.

“His coaches gave him the passion for the game,” said Angelini’s younger brother Joe, who works and lives in Half Moon Bay.

A left-handed pitcher, Angelini played baseball at Junipero Serra High School before going on to play for the College of San Mateo. At CSM he registered a 19 to 4 record combined with a 1.27 ERA and 228 strikeouts in 210 innings. Those numbers earned him a spot in the school’s hall of fame. After two years at community college, he left for Washington State University where he became an All-Pac 8 selection in 1969. His time with the Washington State Cougars included a 2.29 ERA and a single-season mark of 91 strikeouts.

His efforts were not unnoticed, and Angelini was soon drafted to the Kansas City Royals, for whom he pitched for two seasons.

But to his brother, Angelini remained the same person he had always been despite his major-league credentials.

“He was the person I looked up and who I idealized,” Joe Angelini said. “…He was my hero.”

While 12 years apart in age, Joe said he still remembers getting the chance to travel and see his brother on the road while he was practicing for games.

“I actually got to watch him play in Oakland when he was pitching against the Oakland Athletics. So that was pretty cool,” Joe Angelini said.

It seemed only fitting that Norm Angelini met the love of his life, Sue, at a baseball game. They were ultimately married for 48 years.

“She was sitting next to the bullpen and that’s where they first met,” Joe Angelini said.

Norm Angelini spent several years playing for various major and minor league teams before eventually ending his baseball career in Denver, where he settled and raised his family. Son Michael, who lives in Denver with his two sons, said he feels fortunate to have had the “best dad.”

“He coached me in Little League and he was coaching my oldest son, who’s also a left-handed pitcher,” Michael said. “He was an outstanding coach, a great father and grandfather. I am just proud of him for being able to pitch professionally.”

Though Angelini relocated from Half Moon Bay to Colorado, Joe said his brother frequently visited to host an annual golf tournament benefiting the Major League Alumni Association.

Both Joe and Michael credit their love for baseball to Norm Angelini. Joe keeps a headshot of his brother from his time with Kansas City displayed in his office. It’s signed simply, “Best wishes, Norm.”

“He was just a great human being,” Joe Angelini said. “He just loved life. Whoever he came in contact with, he left a lasting impression.”

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