Wednesday, March 23, 2005

An Infielder Becomes a Soap Opera Star

On March 20, 1963, former major league infielder turned actor, Johnny Berardino announced his new role as internist Dr. Steve Hardy in the soon-to-debut soap opera General Hospital.

It was a role Berardino would continue to play for 33 years and over 4,300 episodes. Along the way, Dr. Hardy became the hospital's chief of staff while John himself dropped the second "r" from his surname ("Beradino") and gained a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Berardino even convinced the soap's producers to cast friend Yogi Berra as a brain surgeon in one episode (though they refused to give the Hall of Fame catcher any spoken lines).

Acting was nothing new for the former member of the Browns, Indians, and Pirates. Berardino graced the silver screen as an extra in several Hal Roach "Our Gang" comedies at the age of six. He later played bit parts in movies such as Marty and North by Northwest. The majority of his thespian work, however, came via television, where the Los Angeles native made literally scores of appearances, usually playing the heavy on episodes of Dragnet, The Adventures of Superman, and countless other small-screen series.

Though just a .249 career major-league hitter, Berardino made an impact in the game. Browns teammate Al Zarilla tells of Berardino amusing the club with skits and Shakespearean dramas and soliloquies. While with Cleveland, owner Bill Veeck, always looking for a new promotion, insured the handsome infielder's facial features for a million dollars. Also, on May 15, 1946, Berardino's seventh-inning grand slam off New York Yankees ace reliever Johnny Murphy was a blow the Bombers never recovered from that season.
Courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame website:

No comments: