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Tony Andenucio during his playing days. A tournament named in his honor will enter its 41st season this week at the Runyon Sports Complex. [Courtesy photo/Andenucio family]Tony Andenucio during his playing days. A tournament named in his honor will enter its 41st season this week at the Runyon Sports Complex. [Courtesy photo/Andenucio family]


With Pueblo's 'Nuch Baseball Tournament entering 41st season, who was Tony Andenucio?

BY JEFF LETOFSKY | The Pueblo Chieftain | JULY 13, 2021

The annual Tony Andenucio Memorial Baseball Tournament is entering its 41st season this week.

The 12-team, four-day tournament at the Runyon Sports Complex in Pueblo starts Thursday featuring a local team in Pueblo Azteca, plus teams from around Colorado and out-of-state staples from New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Texas.

But, just who is Tony Andenucio, and why is he celebrated?

Andenucio's early years go toward baseball and WW2
Born Aug. 1, 1919 on the St. Charles Mesa in Pueblo, Andenucio began his baseball career on the Pleasant View High School fields. James Bongirno, his high school coach, remembers the young Andenucio as a “natural in softball, baseball, gymnastics and boxing."

When Andenucio graduated high school, he was offered a professional baseball contract in 1942 by the St. Louis Cardinals. World War ll prevented his hopes and dreams of playing professional baseball as he entered the service.

He saw action with the 65th Armored Field Artillery in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy and Germany.

Moving on after war
Second baseman; PFC, Anthony "Tony" Andenucio of the 65th Armored Field Artillery battalion, poses by a 105mm MsA1 Howitzer in the sector of Saint-Georges-d'Elle (Manche), 3kms from Saint-lo in Normandy [Courtesy photo/Andenucio family] Courtesy PhotoSecond baseman; PFC, Anthony "Tony" Andenucio of the 65th Armored Field Artillery battalion, poses by a 105mm MsA1 Howitzer in the sector of Saint-Georges-d'Elle (Manche), 3kms from Saint-lo in Normandy [Courtesy photo/Andenucio family] Courtesy PhotoThe year 1945 was big year for Andenucio.

He was honorably discharged from military service in May of that year. A month before that, in April, he asked Carrie Ann Corda to be his wife. He had met Carrie in 1937 and they were married on Nov. 20, 1945. Andenucio also opened “Tony’s Cigar Store” at 322 N. Union Avenue.

In 1948, Tink Snapp raided all the local softball teams for the best of the veterans and formed the patent VFW Post 61 team. Andenucio batted third and played second base. He was named a VFW All-American in 1949 and 1951.

Andenucio and Carrie had three children: Joanna, Joseph (Joe) and Anthony. They lived on Elm Street until they moved to Sunset Park in 1961.

The move from Elm Street wasn't an easy one. Standing on the back porch, Tony made the decision to move when part of the backyard was going to be demolished in order to build Interstate 25. The backyard wasn’t big enough to play ball in with his two sons. There was always a game going in the backyard on Amherst in Sunset Park. According to Joe, many broken windows followed.

Joe tried to put into words who his father was.

"First of all my dad left us so young," Joe Andenucio said. "He was our rock, our go-to guy. He was always there for us. He was a hard worker. He loved people. He was in the people business. Running a pool hall he knew every kid in town.

"He loved to play. We would play whiffle ball in the backyard for hours."

Working at the cigar store
Near 1960, Tony bought the Main Cigar Store at 725 N. Main Street. He didn’t really smoke the cigars that he sold but he loved to chew on a White Owl Cigar and would be seen with them hanging out the side of his mouth often.

Eventually, Union Avenue was taken over for improvements and Tony’s Cigar Store closed. That left Main Cigar Store, which was a pool hall, as Tony’s domain. Many have fond memories of going in and seeing Tony behind the counter.

Andenucio played softball until the late 1960s before he passed on March 3, 1977 at age of 58.

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Pueblo's famed tournament named after Andenucio
A plaque in honor of Anthony "Tony" Andenucio is displayed near the field named in his honor at the Runyon Sports Complex [Chieftain file photo] Courtesy PhotoA plaque in honor of Anthony "Tony" Andenucio is displayed near the field named in his honor at the Runyon Sports Complex [Chieftain file photo] Courtesy PhotoJim Gradishar, who was running Runyon Field at the time, actually started the Tony Andenucio Memorial baseball tournament in 1979.

"Jim and my dad were good friends and he was the one who decided to name a tournament after my dad," Joe said.

A changeover in commissioners transpired in 1980 and the tournament was put on hold.

The following year, Andenucio's son, Joe, took over the reigns of the tournament and it's been going strong ever since.

Over the years it expanded to its current format of 12 teams. It is considered one of the most difficult tournaments to win with pool and bracket play that tests the deepest pitching staffs.

After a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the tournament resumes for the 41st time on Thursday with 12 teams playing five pool games in the American and National league divisions through the first three days.

Then, on Sunday, the top two teams in each division will square off in the semifinals. The championship is set for 7 p.m. Sunday.

Joey Andenucio contributed to this story; Chieftain senior sports reporter Jeff Letofsky can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Twitter @jeffletofsky

 

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