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Al Capone; The Early Years
Young Alphonse Capone with his little brother Erminio (John) in Brooklyn.
(Copyright Mario Gomes Collection)
Most books and historians do not touch Al Capone's early years growing up. Mostly because there is not much info out there or if there is, it's made up conjecture in books to give the story some fillers on what Al Capone may have been doing or saying before becoming the world reknowned gang czar of Chicago. No, there isn't much facts on Al's early years.......
Mario Gomes, founder of Myalcaponemuseum has recently uncovered and reveals for the first time a real authentic glimpse into Al Capone's early Brooklyn life.
Al and John together again in 1930, while under arrest in Miami.
(Miami police mugshot)
We all read in the mutiple Capone biographies how Al left school to support his family, how he hung around other kids to be part of a gang on James Street and became a criminal. Only some, but not all of these claims are true! So what other little known facts are there about Al? No, he wasn't out shooting people or gang banging with other hoods 24/7. He pretty much was a regular teen outside his gang buddies. He attended parties, social events, boys clubs and played sports. He wasn't born with a gun in his hand as most report.
New Year's Eve 1914 -1915, Al Capone attends a birthday party.
The Standard Union January 5, 1915
"Spaghetti" was little Alphonse's nickname as a boy. Not because of his Italian heritage, but because of his constant nasal infections which caused his nose to run over his lips. Capone would live a life long struggle with his sinus troubles. He was first operated in 1929, during his stay at Eastern State prison. Later prison documents in 1932, 1934, 1938, and 1939, will also show Capone's continuing sinus troubles. See Myths
Chicago Tribune March 17, 1930
Alphonse and the gang hung around the Park Slope area. Many older hoods held court there and took notice of the younger hoods. Who were they? The unholy trinity of James street were Frank Uale, also known as Frankie Yale, John Donato Torrio and Robert Vanella, also known as Roxie Vanille.
These three were intertwined and would meet often to discuss nefarious dealings. Torrio would be Vanella's best man at his 1921 wedding. All would play a major role into Al Capone's life. Whether it be mentoring or taking care of him in some sort of way.
Frankie Uale , John Torrio and Robert 'Roxie' Vanella
Vanella, Torrio and Yale meet up as they do ever so often.
The Standard Union, April 27,1920.
NOTE: This documented meeting is just a couple of weeks before Big Jim Colosimo is executed.
The Capone boys were not hoods all their lives. They went to school, worked legitimate jobs and kept their noses clean. This was probably at their parents urging to try and stay on the straight and narrow path, and not to fall into temptation, as had happened to past Italian comrades. This was especially true coming from Gabriele the patriarch who wanted his boys not to sully the Capone name in their new country. They socialized, participated in community events, joined various clubs.
In 1915, one of the clubs they joined was St. Michael's Roman Catholic church YMCC (Young Man's Civic Club). It was located on Prince and Concord streets. Ralph James Capone, Al's older brother, participated in various fundraising or benevolent events held at the club and the church. After all, it seemed only right as this had once been the church where Al Capone was baptized by Rev. G. Garofalo. The original church on Tillary and Lawrence streets was not far from where the Capone family had once lived at 69 Park Avenue. Sadly, the church was burned down by a drunken french sailor in February of 1914, and was replaced in 1915, with the new St. Michael church on Prince and Concord Streets. That church is now also long gone and was demolished to make way for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The records from the two original churches were later moved to the other St. Michael's affiliated church on St. Edwards street.
Under exposed family photo of a young Al Capone all dressed up at Coney Island beach.
Photo circa 1916 - 17
(Mario Gomes Collection)
Al Capone's father, Gabriele Capone, now a barber and pool hall owner, was a well respected man in the Brooklyn community. All the Italians around that area knew him or knew about him. Most books just put him off as a poor old man with many kids trying to make ends meet in a culture shocked New York. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Brooklyn map showing Al Capone's world as a youngster. The yellow square shows the original St. Michael's Archangel church where Al was baptized when the Capones lived on Navy street. That original church burned down in 1914.
The red square shows where the later St. Michael's church was built in 1915, and where the Capone baseball team was organized. The green square is Park Avenue where the Capones lived for a time in the early 1900's. The nearby park (City Park) is where Al Capone once played baseball and it's still standing today!
The blue square is where the Capones moved to. Garfield place and Al's neighborhood. This is the area where Al and his friends hung around. The Fischetti family lived near Carroll and Capone's slasher Frank Galluccio lived on Union street. Capone's slashing would occur on December 8,1918, at a restaurant near 5th Avenue and Union Street.
4th and Garfield place. This is where Capone played as a boy and teen.
Brooklyn Directory 1906.
Gabriel Capone originally owned and ran a barber shop at 69 Park, but he closed that one in 1907, when he moved the family to Garfield Place.
The above named Garfield Place barber shop was actually situated at 259 4th Avenue. This is where Gabriel briefly worked as a simple employee before health issues made him stop. Due to his heart ailment, he later opted for a night watchman job.
The Capone patriarch Gabriele tried to integrate into his community and helping out as best he could. Christmas 1913, Gabriele attended an operatic concert at Prospect Hall. This same Prospect hall would later host the Adonis Club in 1917, this social club later moves it's members to it's own humble location at 152 20th Street in Brooklyn. NOTE This is the same Adonis fraternal organization where Al Capone would participate in a fatal shootout during Christmas of 1925. See Adonis Massacre.
All the Capone boys love sports, but this was particularly true for Ralph Capone. The second eldest of the Capone sons dives into baseball like a fish into water. In 1912,18 year old Ralph manages and plays on an amateur team named the Algerians.
1929, E. Belcher and Hyde map plate showing relocated church where Ralph and Al played for the St. Michael's team.
In 1915, Ralph Capone organizes a baseball team through St. Michael's Catholic church that also has a youth club named the YMCC (Young Men's civic or Catholic club). Charles Fischetti, who at this time lives on Carroll Street, also enjoys baseball and joins up with the Career Federals. He also puts ads in the local newspaper recruiting for his team or to find willing teams of equal strength to play against.
Ralph Capone looking for teams to play against.
Brooklyn Citizen March 17, 1912.
The Emrose Social Club and later St. Michael's Catholic Club were tied in together.
These clubs volunteered and helped the poor with food and other services.
When not playing baseball, Ralph Capone was feeding the poor.
The Brooklyn Citizen January 4, 1915.
Ralph James Capone organizing his baseball team.
The Standard Union March 7, 1915
Charley Fischetti was also taking care of recruting teams to play against his own team.
Brooklyn Citizen, June 30,1915.
The 1920 census shows that the address in the top newspaper ad is indeed the same Charley Fischetti. The census taker spelled the family name wrong. (Fishkette). This shows that Capone pal Charley was also an avid baseball player before ever delving into criminality.
What was Al Capone was up to in 1916 until 1918? No, not crime! He played for St. Michael's baseball team 1916, and in 1918, formed a team named the Al Capone Stars.Made based on photos of Al Capone back in 1917, this figure would give an idea what a scarless Al Capone looked like as a ball player.
(Al Capone figure made by artist Kingsley Wallis).
The eldest Capone boy named Vincenzo James Capone will leave home to seek adventure. Some say he will never return until only 40 years later. This is not true as we will see below! In meantime, March 7, 1915, Ralph Capone placed a free ad in the sports column of his local newspaper. He was looking for players to join his baseball team. Both he and his younger brother Al played for St. Michael's club. In September of 1915, 21 year old Ralph Capone will marry his sweetheart. A 17 year old Italian girl named Filomena Muscato. Though newly married, Ralph will still follow his dream of playing ball.
The infamous Capone brothers make the newspapers for using bats! Not for cracking skulls, but for hitting baseballs!
The Brooklyn Citizen, July 12, 1916.
Playing for St. Michael church's associated ball team.
Ralph Capone plays third base while Al plays on first.
August 1917, Mae Coughlin known as Mary is out with Al and attending St. Michael's YMCC second assembly district benefit gala for the enlisted men held in August of that year. In attendance were Ralph Capone, Mae Coughlin and her boyfriend Al Capone. They are amongst the many there on hand for the farewell social held in honor for the brave soldiers that are about to go to war.
In November of 1917, Al Capone will attend a masquerade party held at Bridget Coughlin's house at 117 Third place. In attendance is Mae, Al, Mae's brother and her sisters along with their future husbands. Al is having a grand old time at Mae's house. It is stated in many books that Mae's mother didn't like Al at all which is not true. While Bridget Coughlin's late husband Michael would have never permitted Al into Mae's life, Bridget, in the end, had to swallow that bitter pill and put on a brave face for the sake of her daughter's happiness.
AL AT A MASQUERADE PARTY?
A masquerade party given at Bridget Coughlin's home.
Bridget was Mae's mother. Here we see Al named as Alfred Capone.
The Standard Union November 17,1917.
July 25, 1917 the newspaper reports that a little girl backs into John Capone's horse wagon.
Ralph and Al Capone attend a banquet held in honor of soldiers going off to war.
Note that Mae Capone (Mary Coughlin) is also there.
The Standard Union, August 4, 1917.
June 13,1918, Frank Salvatore Capone is on the draft list.
Frank won't see battle except for one in Cicero, Illinois where he will be killed by police in 1924.
The Real Joe Batters
At the end of 1916 season, Ralph will move on to a team named Marquette for 1917 while Al will sit out that year's baseball season to work at Coney island. Al will again joined his brother in 1918 on a new team naming it the Al Capone Stars. Surprisingly, for the season of 1918, Al proved to be an excellent batter and pitcher! By the end of that same year it would be all over. Al's life would change due three reasons
1) The birth of his son (December 4,1918).
2) Because of a violent altercation which would forever brand him as 'Scarface' (December 8,1918).
3) His marriage to Mae Coughlin (December 30,1918).
In 1918, Al Capone played for a semi pro baseball team called the Al Capone Stars. His brother Ralph was the first baseman, Charley Fischetti was the third baseman while Al was pitcher!
The Brooklyn Citizen, June 23, 1918
Ralph J. Capone. First and third base
Teams; Algeria B.B. (1912), St. Michael's C.C. (1916), Marquette (1917), Al Capone (All) Stars (1918) .
Catcher, fielder and third baseman Charles Fischetti, aka Charles Fischer .
Teams; Career Federals (1915), Franklin Triangles (1917), Al Capone (All) Stars (1918).
Pitcher Al Capone
Teams; St. Michael's C.C. (1916), Al Capone All Stars (1918).
Notice how Al Capone can strike em out! 15 batters knocked down in one game by Al Capone's awesome pitching!
The Brooklyn Citizen, June 6, 1918
Charles Fischer is really future gangster Charles Fischetti, a supposed Capone cousin.**** One wonders if the Costello on Capone's team is THE Frank Costello?
Read story in the New York Post by clicking on banner.
The Columbia Hall. This is where Capone and other teens went to dance on weekends.
It is here, in 1918, that a young Al Capone will start a fight with Frank Galluccio. Later that evening, when the two meet up again in a nearby restaurant, Galluccio will slash Capone's face with a steak knife. SEE Origins of the Scars
Once the baseball season over, Al will go back to his gang haunts looking for excitement and fast money. On December 4, 1918, Al Capone will become a proud daddy. Albert Francis is born while Al has been living with Mae Coughlin's mother. Four days after Sonny's birth, Al Capone is attacked and has his faced slashed. Al will tell the police that two men attacked him. The newspaper will erroneously report that his right side was slashed, when it fact, it was his left side. He will get patched up at the Methodist Episcopal Hospital. Scarface is born! SEE Origins
The Brooklyn Daily Times, December 9, 1918.
Al Capone's neighborhood. Red arrow points to 38 Garfield place, the Capone family household in Brooklyn.
The front of 38 Garfield.
On December 30, 1918, Al Capone will marry Mae Coughlin at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church. In attendance are Al's parents, Mae's mother, along with her sisters.
On July 8, 1919, Mae Coughlin Capone's mother will pass away. Al is in attendance and this furthers the notion that Al Capone did not go to Chicago in 1919, as he was in New York for his mother in law's funeral.
Mae Capone's mother and her obituary.
Interesting note. Holy Cross is the same cemetary where Frankie Yale is buried.
On November 17, 1920, a grandiose funeral was held for a humble barber named Gabriele Capone. Gabriele had died on November 14 at home from a heart attack. The Capone family was united to ease the pain. Robert Vanella, who was John Torrio's best friend took charge of the funeral. It wasn't a small affair. After the service at Our Lady of Peace Church on Carroll Street, the street lined up with a hundred onlookers that followed 10 carriages of flowers. One massive broken column made of flowers was sent in by Frankie Yale.
The Capone patriarch went back a few times to Italy for visits.
Possibly the most interesting part of the funeral was that all the seven Capone boys stood in as pallbearers. Even the supposedly disappeared Vincenzo James Capone was there for his daddy's funeral. This event was reported in the newspaper on the 17th.
Salvatore 'Frank', Albert Umberto, Ralph 'Raffaele'
Vincenzo James 'Richard Hart'
John 'Ermino', Matt 'Amadeo' and Alphonse.
The Standard Union November 17, 1920
Our Lady of Peace church on Carroll street.
This is where Al Capone's father's funeral was held in 1920.
It was also the place where Charles Fischetti's funeral was held in 1951.
From a talented scarless baseball playing teen to Chicago's ultimo gang czar named Scarface.
Who knows just what Al Capone would have accomplished had he stayed on the straight and narrow!
(Both renditions of Capone figures by artist Kingsley Wallis).
First arriving in Chicago December 1920, these events make it more plausible that Al Capone was only full time in Chicago as of 1921. Once there, he is tutored by John Torrio. Capone will learn the ropes and will manage gambling dens and houses of prostitution in Burnham, Hammond and Chicago. He makes his first newspaper appearance on January 21, 1921.
Chicago Tribune January 21,1921
1922, he is arrested in Chicago for being implicated in a fender bender. While intoxicated, he waves a gun and a badge in a witness's face.
Chicago Tribune August 31,1922.
Before becoming the infamous crime czar, he will manage various dives for Torrio, buy beer trucks in Hammond and gets arrested there as Al Brown. He will also manage a boxer named Mike Dundee, he will the Four Deuces club in Chicago, and the rest as they say is History!
Please visit the rest of this site for more interesting history on Al Capone and prohibition era Chicago!
All research on this page by Mario Gomes. New information of Al Capone playing baseball uncovered by Mario Gomes.
Sources via newspaper clips, documents, magazines, photos, family members, Ancestry, Newspapers.com and the Mario Gomes Collection.
Created March 2020