Sporting a literal murderers’ row of hitters, the Philadelphia mafia’s softball team is back in action on the local South Philly rec diamond. A photograph of the squad in uniform recently surfaced on-line, many of them wearing white-colored jerseys with 9th & Christian printed across the chests in reference to the crime family’s new clubhouse at the corner of 9th and Christian.
Back in the late 1990s, the Philly mob fielded a softball team representing then-gangland hangout Gino’s Café owned by boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino. Two decades and several prison stints later, the team has returned and it appears to be captained (pun intended) by George (Georgie Boy) Borgesi, the Philly mob’s former consigliere when the club first hit the diamond in the Clinton Era and now a capo and street-faction leader. A number of the wiseguy softballers were wearing Merlino’s Ristorante t-shirts, commemorating the swaggering boss’ ill-fated Italian eatery in Boca Raton, Florida, where he resides these days under bond restriction facing another round in the ring with the government over allegations of bookmaking and health fraud.
Borgesi is in the center of the current team photo, alongside aging acting boss Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi and respected mafia administrator John (Johnny Chang) Ciancaglini. All three have either been charged with or convicted of a homicide in the past. Per one FBI informant, Borgesi bragged of taking part in 11 mob murders.
Ligambi is Borgesi’s uncle and mentor in the mob. Sources tell Gangster Report, a big chunk of the over two dozen Goodfellas pictured in the team photo, are part of Borgesi’s crew and growing powerbase.
In 2014, Borgesi and Ligambi beat RICO charges and Borgesi walked out of federal prison after 14 years. Ligambi, 77, was sprung from a life prison sentence in 1997 following his conviction for murdering high-ranking mob associate Frank (Frankie Flowers) D’Alfonso got tossed. The 55-year old Merlino, Ciancaglini, 61, and Borgesi, 54, beat murder raps at their 2001 RICO trial, but were nailed for racketeering. Merlino spent 12 years in the joint. Johnny Chang did an eight-year bid behind bars.
During the Gino’s Café years, Skinny Joey pitched, Georgie Boy Borgesi manned the hot corner at third base, Uncle Joe played second and underboss Steven (Handsome Stevie) Mazzone showed off his slick glove up the middle at shortstop. Mazzone doesn’t appear in the recent diamond photo-op, two of his nephews do though.