Stars in His Eyes

Johnny Bernardino

Johnny Bernardino

Most ball players are just that, ball players. Few have identities beyond the diamond (unless they go into broadcasting). Some, however, go on to fame in other fields. Such is the story of Johnny Bernardino.

Berardino was born in 1917 in California. He went to the University of Southern California, played infield for the Trojans, then spent a couple of years in the minors (his last season was in the Texas League at San Antonio). He was good enough to get a shot with the St. Louis Browns in 1939. He started at second and in 1940 moved to shortstop. He stayed as the Browns shortstop into early 1942 when he went off to World War II.

He returned to St. Louis in 1946, becoming the Browns normal second baseman (they had Vern Stevens at short). He was a marginal hitter, a decent fielder, and baseball was filled with those. In 1948 he was shipped to Cleveland where he staying into the 1950 season. With Bernardino as the primary backup middle infielder (to Joe Gordon and Lou Boudreau), Cleveland won the American League pennant in 1948 (their last pennant prior to the 1990s). They beat the Boston Braves in six games (their last World’s Championship) with Bernardino solidly entrenched on the bench.

In 1950 he split time between the minors, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, playing about like he normally did. For 1951 he was back with the Browns. He was 34, on the downside. Bernardino went back to Cleveland to open 1952. He foundered, got a last cup of coffee with Pittsburgh, and ended his big league career.

For his career his triple slash numbers are .249/.316/.355/.672 with an OPS+ of 77. He had 755 hits, 167 for doubles, 23 for triples, and 36 for home runs. The only things he ever led the AL in were range factor and errors by a shortstop, both in 1940.

So his baseball career was over. What do you do with the rest of your life? Well, if you’re an LA kid and you’ve grown up around the movies, you go to Hollywood. He had free time in the off-season and as early as 1948 he was appearing in small roles in “B” movies. There is a story that he appeared as a kid in the “Our Gang” series of shorts, but the Internet Movie Data Base shows his first credit as 1948. He was strictly a bit player now known as John Beradino. He did a lot of TV, including four episodes of “The Lone Ranger” and a number of small roles in movies. He was perhaps best known as the cop who picks up a drunken Cary Grant in “North by Northwest.”

His big break came in 1963. There was a new soap opera to be called “General Hospital” being cast. Beradino tried out and won the lead role of Dr. Steve Hardy. He held the role from 1963 into 1996 when, ill with cancer he died. He did a handful of other shows between 1963 and 1996, but always returned to his bread and butter role. Initially, he was the dashing leading man, but as he aged, became the benevolent father figure for the younger stars on General Hospital.

Now I’m not a soap opera fan so I never watched him while he was on the show. In preparation for this post, I saw a few episodes and snippets on the internet. He wasn’t Humphrey Bogart, but he seemed to be a capable actor. It was a nice finish to a career that started on a baseball diamond.

John Beradino as Dr. Hardy

John Beradino as Dr. Hardy

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5 Responses to “Stars in His Eyes”

  1. W.k. kortas Says:

    I think if you played for the Browns in the 40’s, life probably owed you a couple of good breaks after that.

  2. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    I guess that my mother would be surprised to learn that Dr. Steve Hardy had been a baseball player!

    Other baseball players that I can think of that became actors were Chuck Connors of the Dodgers, who, as everyone knows, was in “The Rifleman” on television, and Wes Parker, the Dodgers’ rich kid first baseman (a damn good one; I remember seeing him play at the end of his short but good career) who walked away from baseball to be in various acting jobs. He was also a classical pianist. (As was Phil Mankowsi of the Tigers and the great 1979 Mets, even though Baseball Reference seems to have erred and has him on the Mets 1980 roster instead of ’79; I recall him on the ’79 roster. One of the few times that Baseball Reference has made an error.)

    Nice piece, V.

  3. William MillerW Says:

    Great topic. I’d never heard of him before, but now that you mention it, when I was a little boy, my grandma would always have General Hospital on in the afternoon, and I vaguely recall seeing him play in that role.
    Very nice piece of baseball-related trivia.
    -Bill

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