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Armand Soriano dies; last of the Brooklyn Dodgers' razzing Sym-Phony was 87

Armand Soriano, left, playing the cymbals, stands next

Armand Soriano, left, playing the cymbals, stands next to his father, middle, who is playing the drums. Along with a band of family and friends, Soriano musically harassed visiting team players at the Brooklyn Dodgers home games. Photo Credit: Family handout

The Dodgers Sym-Phony, which turned rallying the Brooklyn baseball team while razzing umpires and opposing teams into an art form, has lost its last surviving member.

Armand Soriano of Floral Park, who played the cymbals, died May 22 at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park. He was 87.

"He was larger than life . . . He had a great personality," said son Louis P. Soriano of Levittown.

Armand Soriano was recruited for the Sym-Phony when he was 18 by his father, Louis Soriano, who founded the ragtag band in the late 1930s.

The band name was hyphenated -- and spelled unconventionally -- for a reason.

"They were not musically inclined; it was more of a joke thing," the son said. "He enjoyed it very much -- and the best part was meeting all the ballplayers."

The emphasis on humor over musical proficiency won the loyalty and affection of players and fans alike. Timing, especially for the cymbals, was essential.

"Just as the player's backside would touch the bench, the cymbal from the symphony would crash, and the Dodger fans would applaud and chuckle at the player's embarrassment," according to "Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers."

In 1951, the team, which moved to Los Angeles six years later, presented the Sym-Phony band founder with a plaque with his caricature on it, autographed by all the players.

"That plaque was given to my father and he, in turn, donated it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown" along with other memorabilia, Louis P. Soriano said.

Such generosity was typical of Armand Soriano. "He was very concerned about other people," his son said. "He always tried to help his family and friends."

Armand Soriano, born in Brooklyn, left school after eighth grade to support his family.

During World War II, he worked at the Brooklyn Army Base. He later found employment as a stock clerk with the Steuben Glass company, where he would remain about 30 years, working his way up to running the stockroom.

Mailing such fragile and expensive items would not always do.

"They had him deliver glass to celebrities," his son said. "He actually met Joan Crawford. She had him take off his shoes."

In addition to his son Louis, survivors include his wife, Mary; son Salvatore of North Bellmore; daughter, Amanda Beers of Franklin Square; sister, Theresa Coraci of Albertson; and five grandchildren.

Soriano was buried May 26 at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.

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