Vito Valentinetti, age 92, passed away peacefully in the early morning of August 5, 2021, while his loving wife, Mary Ann, and several of his children kept close watch over him at home.
Vito was born to Giuseppe and Antoinette (LoPiccolo) Valentinetti on September 16, 1928, in West New York, New Jersey, the sixth of seven children. He was predeceased by siblings Mary, Ben, Vincy, Frank, and Tina. His dear younger sister, Santa (Arthur) Wagner, survives him.
Vito grew up in West New York, New Jersey, and the Bronx, New York, attending NYC public schools including Aviation High School, located then in Queens. He played high school baseball with his friend and teammate, Whitey Ford. Vito continued playing ball on a baseball scholarship at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, graduating in 1951 with a degree in Business Administration.
Vito met the first love of his life, “Ann” (Anna Mary McCluskey), and wed on December 23, 1951. They raised 10 children in the Bronx and Mount Vernon, New York. Ann passed away on December 23, 1979, on their 28th wedding anniversary. He married and is survived by his second love, Mary Ann (Jason), on May 22, 1987, in Mount Vernon.
Vito is survived, too, by nine of his 10 children having lost his seventh-born, Daniel, in 1984. The surviving children are Vito (Tina), Marie (Lou) Corradino, Anne (Bob) Sottile, Mark, Karen (Lou) Piloco, Robert, Joseph (Claudia), Rosanne (Nick) DeFino, and Joan (John) Lauria. He has one adult stepson, Andrew Lombardo. He is also survived by scores of loving nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
Vito held various occupations during his life, the earliest as a professional baseball player (a pitcher) in the 1950s with various minor league teams and a total of almost four years with major league teams: the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, and the old Washington Senators. His professional baseball career was put on hold for two years while he served in the US Army in Fort Jackson, North Carolina.
Vito hung up his cleats near the beginning of 1960 to pursue more steady work, including many “second (and third) jobs”, to help support his growing family. Probably his most favorite second job included serving up hits as a batting practice pitcher for the New York Yankees and Mets in the early 60s through the mid-80s. He retired from his main occupation in 1995 after 30-plus years with the New York State Supreme Court system as a purchasing agent.
While he held family dearest, Vito was also known to take great pleasure in a good cigar, a relaxing fishing hole, and travels across New York and a few points beyond in pursuit of the big catch. When he wasn’t pursuing his outdoor fun, Vito was known to enjoy a quiet afternoon at a casino in search of just the right slot machine. He caught more fish than jackpots.
Vito was also a man of great faith having been brought into the Catholic Church by his parents through his Baptism at Our Lady of Libera Church in West New York. He received the sacraments regularly throughout his life until Covid-19 restrictions brought an end to his ability to attend Mass. Near the end of his time on earth, he was comforted by the opportunity to receive Communion at home and to be anointed before he passed on to his eternal reward.
Visitation will be held Sunday, August 8th at Yannantuono Burr Davis Sharp Funeral Home in Mount Vernon from 2 PM until 6 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, August 9th at Sts. Peter and Paul - St. Ursula Church in Mount Vernon at 10 AM. Interment will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York, where he will be laid to rest.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Jansen Hospice and Palliative Care, 670 White Plains Rd., Suite 213, Scarsdale NY 10583 or by visiting www.jansenhospice.org/donate.
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