The New York Times ran a lengthy and compelling feature story recalling the life and times of baseball player-turned-mob hit man Maurice (Pro) Lerner this week penned by Dan Barry. Lerner, who died peacefully of natural causes three years ago at 77, was one of the New England mafia’s most-feared hired guns during the 1960s at the peak of legendary don Raymond Patriarca’s reign. Read Barry’s story here.

In his days before the Jewish-born Lerner, born and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts with dreams of big-league fame (garnering him his nickname as a teenager), bounced around the minor leagues in the late 1950s and the first part of the 1960s, playing alongside future MLB stars like Tony Perez, Rusty Staub, Roy White, Tommy Agee and Rico Petrocelli and hitting an impressing career .308 before trading in his cleats, glove and bat for a revolver and brass knuckles.

The Pro’s Hit List – Age Of Aquarius New England Assassin Style

January 1965 – Low-level New England mobster Bobby Rasmussen was found dead in a snowbank in Wilmington, Massachusetts, shot in the back of the head with a .38 caliber pistol, allegedly by Lerner as punishment for attempting a shakedown of Pro Lerner’s gangland mentor John (Irish Red) Kelley. Informants told police that Rasmussen was lured to Lerner’s apartment and killed there.

June 1967 – Kelley crew member Tommy Richards vanishes in the days before Kelley was slated to go on trial for boosting over a million dollars in cash from a postal truck heist five years earlier in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Richards was allegedly part of the heist team and Kelley was said to have worried about Richards’ ability to keep quiet under intense government scrutiny. Informants told police that Lerner killed Richards by shooting him at point blank range as Kelley watched on and their victims reportedly pleaded “I never did anything to hurt you guys,” prior to Lerner filling him with lead. Kelley would be acquitted in the robbery.

December 1967 – Kelley crew member George (Billy A) Agisotelis is allegedly shot to death in the face by Lerner as the pair drove in Lerner’s automobile, according to an FBI informant. Agisotelis was charged and acquitted with Kelley in the Plymouth postal truck heist.

April 20, 1968 – New England mob figure and renegade bookie Rudy Marfeo and his bodyguard Anthony Melei are gunned down inside a Providence, Rhode Island grocery store after Marfeo fell out of favor with Patriarca and refused to pay a street tax. A little over a year later, Kelley flipped and joined Team America, fingering Pro Lerner as the shooter in the double homicide and future New England mob boss Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio as the go-between in the murder conspiracy on behalf of Patriarca. Lerner was convicted at trial in Rhode Island in 1970 and smacked with two life prison sentences, however, Kelley would subsequently admit to exaggerating details of the slayings at the behest of a corrupt FBI agent and the Pro was set free after the case was tossed and he copped a plea to lesser conspiracy charges, receiving time served in 1988. Upon his release from prison, Lerner moved out west and retired. Patriarca died of a heart attack in 1984. Manocchio is currently in retirement in Providence after five years in prison on extortion charges following a dozen years running the crime family in the late 1990s and a majority of the 2000s.

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