Big Al Reno
Born Alphonse Renuccaridi, like many immigrants Al came to America in the steerage compartment of a passenger ship. As an infant he arrived wrapped in a blanket in a big iron cooking pot. His family settled in the wooded hills of Western Pennsylvania. Al was the youngest and was often on his own….years later he told his biographer that he resented his father for being too humble: “My father was a sucker, he was a working man who blew it.” He eventually changed his name to an Americanized version Al Reno (also had Irish overtones to his choice).
He dropped out of school in the fifth grade and had two arrests shortly thereafter, he served ten months for illegal possession of a pistol…this is his only stint in jail. In his late teens, Al went back to school but made the poor choice of attending a small Catholic school near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Although he excelled academically he was eventually urged to seek his academic and social pursuits elsewhere. Apparently, Al had a penchant for mischief and a familiarity of the daughters of the faculty at the institution. He was also paying for his tuition by giving the underclassmen (and locals) lucrative predictions of who was going to win each week’s football matchups. Level of competition did not matter. Al gave out clear winners from the NFL down to the local high school games. While in school, he was evaluated by a guidance counselor, who stated that Al was an “aggressive, egotistical, antisocial type,” who possessed “bright intelligence.” In short, he is the prototypical wise guy: a product of his environment, willing to break the rules for personal gain and intelligent enough to organize his crimes.
Eventually, Al followed his dreams (and the money) to the Las Vegas where he made it big. After years of successfully handicapping games out West, Al has since retired to the eastern shore of Maryland.