First A Baseball Player
Rocco Francis Marchegiano, the future Rocky Marciano, was born on September 1, 1923, in Brockton, Massachusetts, the son of working class parents. An immigrant from Italy, his father worked in a shoe factory. This factory made a big impression on the young Marciano. It was Marciano's job in the family to take lunch to his father at work each day, and there he saw first-hand the toll factory work took on the people who worked there. Marciano vowed that he would never make his living that way.
In high school, Marciano excelled in sports. He played on the Brockton High football team as a linebacker, once intercepting a pass and running sixty-seven yards for a touchdown. His dreams were of baseball, however, and he planned to become a professional player after he dropped out of school at the age of sixteen. He worked in blue-collar jobs, including a two month stint at the shoe factory, while he trained to become a professional baseball player. His fledgling baseball career was interrupted, however, when the United States entered World War II at the end of 1942.
Drafted into the army in 1943, Marciano discovered the sport that was to be his career when he took up boxing to avoid kitchen duty. After serving in Wales and at Ft. Lewis, Washington with the 150th Combat Engineers, Marciano was discharged following the close of the war. He worked at odd jobs to support himself while he pursued a career in baseball. His hard work paid off when he landed a tryout with the Chicago Cubs as a catcher and first baseman. But he failed to make he team after a throw from home plate to second base fell short.