'Mex' Siani, 68; Coached Football Teams To Titles

Posted: February 27, 1988

Anthony A. "Mex" Siani, 68, who coached football teams to titles at Bok and South Philadelphia High Schools, died yesterday at Pennsylvania Hospital. He lived in South Philadelphia, where he was born and raised.

A teacher for 30 years, he led his teams to two Public League championships at Bok and three at Southern. The city title came, too, with his Bok team against North Catholic in 1950, and with Southern against West Catholic in 1962.

His teams put together 202 victories during his career.

He retired from coaching in 1976 but taught at Southern for an additional two years. He also served as president of the Teachers Credit Union.

A graduate of South Philadelphia High, he earned a degree at Temple University, where he played baseball, basketball and football and boxed. He graduated in 1942 and promptly was ordered to active duty with the Army. He was assigned to the infantry.

Lt. Siani earned two battle stars for his part in some of the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific. Saipan was the place that put his 27th Division - ''The Fighting Irish" - to its toughest test.

When the last battle was over, the platoon leader was selected by his enlisted men to play shortstop on their ball team. He was the only officer invited to play. In the spring of 1945, he helped make the team a contender for the division pennant.

When he returned to Philadelphia, he stayed active in the Army Reserve. He retired with the rank of major six years ago.

Somehow, he said then with a chuckle, his life didn't quite match the plans his family had for him when he was a youngster.

He grew up in a musical family. His father, Severnino Siani, was a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra for 26 years. A brother, Charles, played bass with the San Francisco Orchestra.

Though he took up the violin, sports and teaching and working with young people held his interest.

He went to Bok in 1948 as a physical education teacher. Coaching followed. He "went back home" to Southern in 1958 and stayed to become as much a part of the community in South Philadelphia as Pat's Steaks and the Mummers.

Along the way, he played a little sandlot football as well. He played halfback with the Eastern Conference Shamrocks for five years. Sportswriters called him "Mex" for reasons no one could remember last night.

The nickname stuck.

Surviving are his wife, Jennie Covello Siani; son, Anthony T.; daughter, Adele Zebrowski; four grandchildren, and a brother, Charles.

A viewing will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Monday at the Massi Funeral Home, 17th Street and Passyunk Avenue. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Edmond's Church, 21st Street and Snyder Avenue. Burial will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall.

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