Catch You On The Rebound: Hank Biasatti
A name unknown to most Canadian sports fans. Yet, Biasatti has the rare distinction to have been the only Canadian to date to play at the major league level in basketball and baseball.
Born in Beano, Italy January 14, 1922, he was a multi-sport standout while attending Windsor's Gordon McGregor Continuation School (Grade 1 – 10) with his talents in baseball, basketball and soccer.
Continuing his education at Assumption School he also showcased his skills as a football quarterback which included a matchup against USA powerhouse South Bend Catholic High School from Indiana.
He was leading scorer on the high school basketball team and was named first team all-star in 1940 and 1941. Continuing higher education at Assumption College, before and after a three-year service with the Canadian military (1943-1945), he had an outstanding college basketball career. The highlight was no doubt the 49-45 victory over the Harlem Globetrotters - a game in which Biasatti totaled 11 points including the two free throws which broke a 43-43 tie.
On November 1, 1946 the 5-foot-11 Biasatti would make history as the first “international” player to appear in the Basketball Association of America, forerunner of the National Basketball Association, stepping out onto Toronto's Maple Leaf Garden’s hardwood as a member of the Toronto Huskies.
The Huskies would lose the game 68-66 to the New York Knickerbockers. Fellow Windsorite Gino Sovran would also suit up for the Huskies a few weeks later.
Both men would last only six games...Biasatti totaling only six points. He would be released prior to Christmas after informing the Huskies that he would be trying his hand at professional baseball and would be attending the training camp for the Philadelphia Athletics.
Biasatti would later be drafted by the Boston Celtics in the 1947 BAA draft. He would play 11 seasons of pro baseball with only 21 games in the show (first game was April, 23, 1949 with the Philadelphia Athletics) while spending the rest of the time in the minors with stops in Buffalo, San Francisco, Savannah, Toronto and Waterloo. His career batting mark was .277 while playing first base. Biasatti would also continue to play semi-pro basketball (1948-1953) in the American Basketball League…highlighted in 1949 when he averaged 16 points per game during 40 appearances for the New York Gothams.
He would return to Assumption College to coach basketball from 1956 to 1962.
Inducted into the University of Windsor Alumni Sports Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, Biasatti passed away April 20, 1996 in Dearborn, Michigan.
Insight and research provided by Curtis J. Phillips