Among the roll-call for former park rats who moved on to the professional ranks, Mario Mariani stands tall. The big man from the west-end towered above his fellow Washington Park rats, and then over his Encinal Jet teammates.
Mario enjoyed not only the ARPD baseball leagues, but also the flag football program. One of his park directors, Alameda High School gridiron star Dino Airale, would mentor Mariani on football and how to have fun. He must have provided valuable lessons as the ever smiling Mario would eventually play professional football in the Canadian Football League, battling for both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts (16-0) from 1966-67.
Park rat Mario Mariani still lives and works on the Garden Isle. Look for the big man with an even bigger smile as he makes his real estate agent rounds about town!