Lasorda Legacy Baseball Author Roundtable at Fullerton Museum Center on September 22, 2022

Roberto Angotti, Tollo, Italy-Fullerton, California Sister City International Ambassador, Laura Lasorda, daughter of Tommy and Jo Lasorda, and Felipe Ruiz, longtime personal assistant to Tommy Lasorda, moderate Lasorda Legacy Baseball Author Roundtable featuring an all-star cast on Tommy Lasorda Day, Thursday night, September 22, 2022 at 7:30 pm inside the Fullerton Museum Center Auditorium, 301 N. Pomona Avenue in Fullerton, California. Panelists include Zack Minasian, Steve Sax,  Jason Turbow and Chris Epting. Tickets are available by clicking HERE.

Lasorda University: A Recollection of My Summer of ’68 with Tommy Lasorda and the Ogden Dodgers by Zack Minasian is a fun look at a young Tommy Lasorda and his band of Dodger rookies in 1968 in Ogden Utah. The stories and laughs are nonstop as you learn the fate of the Ogden team that summer that included several future big league players. The book features Interviews with many of the former players who describe their Ogden experience and what is was like playing for Tommy Lasorda.

Steve Sax, known for his accomplished 14-year-career as a major league baseball player during which time he became Rookie of the Year, a two-time World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers as well as a five-time MLB All-Star, is host of the popular Sax in the Morning podcast. Playing under inspirational Italian American managers Tommy Lasorda and Tony La Russa, Steve Sax gained invaluable life lessons through sports. After his playing career, he found success not only as a coach and broadcaster but also as a financial consultant, author, motivational speaker and executive/life coach.

Shift: Change Your Mindset and You Change Your World author and former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Sax

In addition to the full-length shows, listeners enjoy “Sax in the Morning” vignettes three days per week that focus on the motivation necessary to get one’s game plan for the day set with the right tone to accomplish the goals necessary for success. By starting the day with the right mindset and making the shift to persevere through challenges, “Sax in the Morning” helps listeners follow their emotional heart in order to reach their dreams and aspirations.

During the “Sax in the Morning” podcast, host Steve Sax speaks with leaders in the world of sports, business and finance to find out what makes people successful, passionate and joyful in their lives

Jason Turbow is the author of They Bled Blue, a chronicle about the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers, Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic, the unbelievable saga on Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley and The Baseball Codes, a book about the unwritten rules of baseball. In addition, he is the founder of the Pandemic Baseball Book Club.

Jason Turbow wrote They Bleed Blue, the story of the 1981 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers

Chris Epting is the author of over 40 travel/history books, including James Dean Died Here, Roadside Baseball, Hello It’s Me, and Dispatches From a Pop Culture Junkie. He is also an award-winning travel writer and has contributed articles for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Westways and Travel + Leisure magazine. In addition, Chris Epting is a memoirist and has co-written Def Leppard’s Phil Collen’s memoir, Adrenalized, the John Oates Memoir Change of Seasons, and Long Train Runnin’ with the Doobie Brothers.

 

Chris Epting has written over 40 books including Orange County Baseball, Images of America: Los Angeles’s Historic Ballparks, Roadside Baseball, and Images of Baseball: The Early Polo Grounds.

“Picturing America’s Pastime: Historic Photography from the Baseball Hall of Fame Archives” celebrates baseball through a unique selection of photographs from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s unmatched archive of baseball photos. Drawing on the Hall of Fame’s archive of more than 300,000 unique images, the Museum’s curatorial team highlights baseball history in this curated collection of rarely seen photos. The photographs reveal the rich relationship between the camera and the game. The Fullerton Museum Center is the first stop on this exciting traveling show For more information, visit the Fullerton Museum Center website or call (714) 738-6545.

“Picturing America’s Pastime: Historic Photography from the Baseball Hall of Fame Archives” is currently on display alongside the “Lasorda Legacy” exhibit at the Fullerton Museum Center

Come out early on Thursday afternoon, September 22, 2022 to check out the “Picturing America’s Pastime: Historic Photography from the Baseball Hall of Fame Archives” and the “Lasorda Legacy” exhibits at the Fullerton Museum Center. Then head outside from 4-9 pm for the Tommy Lasorda Street Fair with the world-famous beer gardens, food trucks, local vendors and live entertainment. After a Dodger dog and a cold beverage, make sure not to miss the Lasorda Legacy Baseball Author Roundtable beginning at 7:30 pm!

Roberto Angotti and Bobby Valentine enjoying the Lasorda Legacy Grand Opening at the Fullerton Museum Center on September 10, 2022

IABF All-Stars from Italy compete against SF Bay Area Colleges

The IABF All-Stars are managed by former Team Italy and Parma manager Gibo Gerali

Gibo Gerali brings over three decades of coaching and managerial experience to the IABF All-Stars. The former scout for the Colorado Rockies is respected internationally for his ability to find athletes with raw talent and assist them to reach their full potential so that they may one day become professional ballplayers. After serving as bench coach for Team Italy in the 2007 World Cup, Parma manager Gibo Gerali led his squad to the 2010 Italian Baseball League Championship title. His winning ways continued as he also helped Team Italy claim the 2010 and 2012 European Baseball Championships.

Gibo Gerali later assisted Team Europe in finding success in the 2015 Asia Winter League. After serving as bench coach for Team Italy in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic, he took over as manager for Marco Mazzieri and later gave way for current Azzurri manager Mike Piazza. A former pitcher for Crocetta, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Astra, and Collecchio during his playing days. Gibo Gerali has since proven himself as a tried-and-tested leader internationally as one of Europe’s most respected managers.

Parma native Gibo Gerali returns to the USA as manager for the IABF All-Stars

Manager Gibo Gerali has selected nine Italian prospects to participate in the IABF Bay Area Collegiate Baseball Games. Parma Clima pitcher Edoardo Acerbi hopes to lead the IABF All-Stars to victory in the USA. Having compiled a 2-0 record with two saves in 12 appearances last year in Serie A competition while pitching for the reigning European Baseball Champions Cup champion Parma Clima, the strong right-handed pitcher tipped off his talent early on at the youth level when he won the Italian national cadet title in 2014 with Oltretorrente and represented Europe-Africa with Emilia Romagna in the 2014 Senior League World Series.

Edoardo Acerbi was awarded the Sant’Ilario Prize for Sport by the Parma Sports Veterans Union in 2015, The following year he won again with Oltretorrente when capturing the Italian national U21 championship title and later helped the Team Italy U18 squad take the silver medal in the 2016 European Baseball Championship. Edoardo Acerbi was invited to participate in the 2017 International Stars Showcase in Arizona and as a result received a scholarship to play baseball at Iowa State University in 2019. IABF All-Stars manager Gibo Gerali said, “Edoardo Acerbi is a pitcher that has yet to show his true potential. He is a strong pitcher who possesses a fastball that reaches 90 mph in addition to a nasty curveball. With this competition in the San Francisco Bay Area, we will be working on his control and his confidence so that he can develop into an elite international competitor.”

IABF All-Star pitcher Edoardo Acerbi has represented Team Italy in international competitions

Parma Clima teammate Francesco Pompani is currently being scouted by several U.S. colleges. If he performs well with the IABF All-Stars, he is destined to get a scholarship. Having represented Europe-Africa as a member of the Italian team from Emilia Romagna at the 2018 Senior League World Series, Francesco Pompani has already played internationally.

One of 17 Italian prospects invited to the MLB Elite European Development Tournament in conjunction with the 2019 London Series, Francesco Pompani has been on the radar of international MLB scouts for some time. He has played for Team Italy on several occasions and will remain a member of the Azzurri squad for years to come. Gibo Gerali said, “Francesco Pomponi is in his first year as a full-time pitcher for Parma Clima. He will work out of the bullpen as a reliever. His fastball, slider and changeup have opened up some eyes in Italy. He also is a very good middle infielder with soft hands.”

Parma Clima pitcher / middle infielder Francesco Pompani is seeking a college scholarship

A familiar name on Team Italy, Riccardo Flisi played in the 2014 U15 Baseball World Cup and the 2017 U18 Baseball World Cup, Most recently, he helped the Azzurri win the bronze medal in the 2021 U23 European Baseball Championship by going 4-for-14 (.286 batting average) with two RBI. Riccardo Flisi was one of the best hitters of the 2021 Collecchio squad with a .363 batting average. Gibo Gerali said, “Riccardo Flisi is a speedy outfielder that grew up as a catcher but a hip injury slowed down his development. He is fun to watch and has a good arm.”

IABF All-Star outfielder / catcher Riccardo Flisi is on the improve after undergoing hip surgery

Sebastiano Catellani represented Europe-Africa playing for Emilia Romagna at tthe Junior League World Series (2018). Most recently he was instrumental in Oltretorrente winning the Italian U18 national title when hitting .286 overall through the regular season and pitching five scoreless innings with six strikeouts against Academy of Nettuno in the Final Four playoffs on October 2, 2021. Sebastiano Catellani will be a key component of the Team Italy U18 pitching staff. Gibo Gerali said, “Sebastiano Catellani is a left-handed pitcher and outfielder. He made a vast improvement last year when he had a big part in winning the U18 national title. Sebastiano will benefit from the USA trip because he needs more experience playing games in order to gain the necessary composure to be dominant.”

Sebastiano Catellani is a secret weapon in the Team Italy U18 pitching arsenal

Representing Team Italy in the U18 World Cup, Andrea Pasotto demonstrated his versatility in the outfield or coming off the bench as a pinch hitter. He has since produced good offensive numbers in Serie A playing for Collecchio. In 2020 he hit .255, while he put together a .293 batting average in 2021. Gibo Gerali said, “Andrea Pasotto is a solid outfielder who is ranked among the best prospects in Italy. He has spent the last two seasons in the top Italian league and has showed he belongs.”

Utility player Andrea Pasotto has proven his weight in gold for Team Italy in on the world stage

Catcher Marco Ragionieri had a breakout year in 2021 playing for Oltetorrente (.269 batting average) and Parma Clima. Currently a member of the Team Italy U18 squad, he might very well follow in the footsteps of Alberto Mineo behind the plate and land a professional baseball contract. Gibo Gerali said, “Marco Ragionieri is a young catcher who is very well built. He really needs these games in America so that he can get more innings under his belt. Marco has huge potential and has already been tracked by several MLB organizations.”

Italian catcher Marco Ragionieri is one of Europe’s most promising baseball prospects

Tommaso Nani was a member of the Team Italy U18 squad in the 2021 European Baseball Championship in Macerata and Montegranaro. He comes off a strong season playing for Codogno with a .328 batting average. Gibo Gerali said, “Tommaso Nani is the only player on this trip to America that is not from Parma. He is a versatile infielder who has been part of the last Team Italy U18 squad. With an excellent work ethic, Tommaso is improving his baseball skills every single day.”

IABF All-Star infielder Tommaso Nani is a young and talented Italian player

Pitcher Riccardo Bigliardi has made a name for himself in Italy. He went 4-0 with two saves and an impressive 0.00 ERA in 24 innings of work during the 2020 season for Crocetta. Riccardo Bigliardi returned last year with more success sporting a 2-1 record with four saves and a 2.36 ERA.

Having represented Europe-Africa playing for Emilia Romagna in the 2018 Senior League World Series, he has showed the world his talent. Riccardo Bigliardi pitched for Team Italy in the U18 European Baseball Championship and been invited to workouts with the Azzurri U23 squad. Gibo Gerali said, “Riccardo Bigliardi is a lean and mean lefty with huge room for improvement. He is very competitive and has become a promising pitching prospect.”

Pitcher Riccardo Bigliardi can be a dominant force on the mound

Tommaso Adorni has represented Europe-Africa playing for Emilia Romagna at the Little League World Series (2016), the Junior League World Series (2018) and the Senior League World Series (2019). Baseball Factory commented that he had plus bat speed, used the whole field and swung with authority. He was one of 17 Italian prospects invited to the MLB Elite European Development Tournament in conjunction with the 2019 London Series.

After representing Team Italy in the 2021 U18 European Baseball Championship, Tommaso Adorni showed some speed and power at the plate with seven extra-base hits (four doubles, one triple and two home runs) playing for Collecchio. Gibo Gerali said, “Tommaso Adorni is a very talented outfielder despite his young age. He has had the chance to participate at several international tournaments. Tommaso is among the top three prospects in Italy…”

IABF All-Star outfielder Tommaso Adorni is considered one of Italy’s top baseball prospects

The IABF San Francisco Bay Area Collegiate Games begin on April 20, 2022 and continue through April 27, 2022. The IABF All-Stars will compete against Holy Names University, San Jose State University, Sonoma State University, San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. For a complete schedule with game times and locations, click HERE.

IABF All-Star manager Gibo Gerali will be assisted by American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer John Noce, who coached more than 365 baseball players at College of San Mateo (CSM) from 1962-1995. With a 772-412 (. 652) record at CSM over 31 seasons, John Noce retired having sent 72 players into professional baseball and eight to MLB. The IABF All-Stars will practice at the College of San Mateo in preparation for the IABF Bay Area Collegiate Games. Pitching coach Rob Biagini, father of MLB pitcher Joe Biagini and coaching coordinator Matt Brown will round out the IABF All-Stars coaching staff.

The IABF will honor the IABF All-Stars, their coaching staff and prominent Bay Area Italian American college baseball coaches Brad San Filippo (San Jose State University), Tony Ragusa (Sonoma State University), Tony Schifano (San Francisco State University) and Craig Gianinno (University of San Francisco) at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club on Sunday, April 24, 2022 beginning at 6 pm with complimentary Italian appetizers followed by an exclusive Meet-and-Greet with the visiting Italian players, former Team Italy and MLB players and current Italian American Bay Area coaches. For tickets to this special event, click HERE.

Dallas celebrates Italian American Baseball Family with SMU film showing on February 21, 2022

Italian American Baseball Foundation co-founder and former Team Italy/Texas Ranger player
Frank Catalanotto is currently the head coach at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) Department of World Languages and Literatures in collaboration with the SMU International Film Festival and the SMU Italian Club are proud to present the Russo Brothers National Italian American Foundation Film Forum Award-winning documentary, Italian American Baseball Family, on Monday, February 21, 2022 at 7:00 pm at McCord Auditorium (3rd floor of Dallas Hall). Filmmaker and director Roberto Angotti will on hand to introduce the film prior to the screening. Admission is free to SMU students and members of the general public. Due to Covid-19 and social distancing requirements, seating may be limited. Masks are strongly encouraged and requested for all attendees.

Italian American Baseball Family tells the story of the Italian Americans’ role in baseball and in the culture of American sports. The movie documents an ethnic group’s rise from adversity and celebrates its triumphs in breaking into a game that was originally dominated by English, Irish and German immigrants. While some immigrants chose to change their names to mask their Italian identity, most felt the need to preserve and hold on to familiar things such as language, customs, and beliefs as a way of tolerating the discriminatory practices and injustices they encountered in America.

Children of immigrants felt stuck in the middle between protective parents who did not want the foreign ways of America to affect the close-knit Italian family, and their own desire to blend into the culture in which they were born. These children lived dual identities, conflicted by the rich Italian traditions of their parents inside their homes and the outside world which existed in the streets and in the schools, where they were taught to become American.

The solution to the stigma of being labeled as outsiders was to discover a way to become less different by assimilating into American culture. As a staple of mainstream American life, baseball presented Italians a viable point of entry as players and fans. By instilling the values of fair play, opportunity and democracy, baseball taught the children of immigrants how to become American.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has recognized many Italian Americans including Tony Lazzeri, Joe DiMaggio, Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra, Ernie Lombardi, Phil Rizzuto, Tommy Lasorda, Ron Santo, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, and Mike Piazza. In fact, many Italian Americans like Hall of Famer and current Team Italy manager Mike Piazza and Italian American Baseball Foundation co-founder Frank Catalanotto have embraced their ancestral heritage in Italy by playing and coaching for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. Italian American Baseball Family also explores how Italian Americans have circled back to Italy to help grow the game abroad. Italian American Baseball Family features interviews with Team Italy players Nick Punto, Francisco Cervelli, Brandon Nimmo, Chris Colabello, and Gavin Cecchini. For more information on the free film screening on February 21, 2022 and the SMU International Film Festival, click HERE. To become a member of the Italian American Baseball Foundation, click HERE.

Team Italy/New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo speaks with Italian American Baseball Family producer/director Roberto Angotti at the 2017 World Baseball Classic in Guadalajara.

A.J. Morris joins Houston panel discussion following Italian American Baseball Family

Team Italy starting pitcher A.J. Morris threw five no-hit innings in the 2017 World Baseball Classic against Venezuela featuring a loaded lineup of MLB All-Stars including Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Alcides Escobar, Freddy Galvis, Ender Inciarte, Carlos Gonzalez, Victor Martinez and Salvador Perez.

The Italian Cultural and Community Center in association with the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance and Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, are pleased to present the Russo Brothers National Italian American Foundation Film Forum Award-winning Italian American Baseball Family documentary on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 7 pm. Former Team Italy hurler and Cincinnati Reds pitcher A.J. Morris with join producer/director Roberto Angotti along with David Fanucchi (Author of Miracle on Grass: How Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda led Team USA to a shocking upset over Cuba, capturing the only Olympic gold medal in USA baseball history), SportsRadio 610 host Shaun Bijani and other prominent panelists for a discussion immediately following the movie screening.

Roberto Angotti is a cultural historian, writer, film director, curator, and radio DJ who blends his love of baseball, Italian American arts and culture, and music into multi-media creations. He is an official Team Italy media representative for Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) and reports firsthand from international competitions such as the World Baseball Classic and other tournaments. The proud Italian American was first inspired to write about baseball in Italy and the USA, arts and culture, and music through his blog: www.mlbforlife.com.

In 2013, Angotti curated the Artists’ Tribute to Italian Americans in Baseball in San Diego, California. This exhibit paid homage to Italian American baseball players and Team Italy players and coaches from the World Baseball Classic through artwork from renowned artists of Italian descent. The Artists’ Tribute to Italian Americans in Baseball exhibition opened with art and baseball memorabilia honoring such big-league players as Mike Piazza, Jason Grilli, Frank Catalanotto, Chris Denorfia, Nick Punto, Drew Butera, Anthony Rizzo, Chris Colabello, and Alex Liddi.

A graduate of the prestigious Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California with a bachelor’s degree in Film Studies, Angotti began his filmmaking career with documentaries on The English Beat and UB40. As a radio deejay on KNAC in Long Beach and KROQ in Los Angeles, he launched the career of Grammy nominee Pato Banton in America. Angotti enlisted the services of Pato Banton on his latest film, Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza, to produce a musical odyssey documentary on the iconic career of the National Baseball Hall of Famer and the new leader of the Italian national baseball program. The film makes its world premiere followed by a live concert performance by Pato Banton at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club on Sunday, April 24, 2022 in celebration of Festa della Liberazione. Limited tickets are available by clicking HERE.

Angotti recently served as international sister city ambassador between Fullerton, California and Tollo (Abruzzo), Italy in honor of long-time Orange County, California resident Tommy Lasorda and the birth place of his parents in Italy. Italian American Baseball Family was featured at the Tommy Lasorda Day celebration in Fullerton on September 22, 2021. In addition, the film (with Italian subtitles) will screened at the reciprocal Tollo sister city celebration in 2022.

Tickets for the upcoming Houston event featuring Italian American Baseball Family and the star-studded panel discussion at the Italian Cultural and Community Center on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 are available by clicking HERE.

More information on Italian Americans Roberto Angotti and Christopher Paluso

Fullerton to become Sister City with Tollo, Italy in honor of Tommy Lasorda on September 22, 2021

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Team Italy manager Mike Piazza named Viscardi Center’s 2021 Sportsman of the Year

Team Italy manager Mike Piazza has given back to countless of his favorite charities over the years, but it is nice to see the National Baseball Hall of Famer being recognized as the Viscardi Center’s Sportsman of the Year on May 20, 2021. In its 54th year, the Viscardi Center’s Celebrity Sports Night continues to be one of the premier fundraising events in the New York Metropolitan area. The event raises funds to enrich the lives of children and adults with all types of disabilities and acute medical needs. Attended by several hundred community leaders, philanthropic individuals, celebrities and pro athletes, the Viscardi Center’s 54th Annual Celebrity Sports Night is not to be missed. To learn more on how you can participate in this year’s virtual event, click HERE.

Mike Piazza has also been kind enough to contribute items of interest in the online silent auction. Fans can bid on a Mike Piazza Autographed Framed Photograph of his monumental home run in the first game back after 9/11 with his special inscription “United We Stand.” In addition, baseball aficionados can bid on a Virtual 30-minute VIP Meet and Greet with Mike Piazza for up to 10 people. Everyone will also receive a personally signed baseball by the Team Italy manager. Another interesting silent auction item is an invitation to The Wine 100 hosted by Derek Jeter, who proudly presents a private Wine Tasting party featuring some of the most desirable wines in the world. The exclusive event is limited to 100 couples and is held in Naples, Florida on a Saturday in January 2022. Time and location will be revealed privately to all participants.

The Viscardi Center’s Celebrity Sports Night on Thursday, May 20, 2021 kicks off at 6:30 pm (EDT) with an action-packed online cocktail reception featuring live interactions on Zoom with Italian American baseball favorite Bobby Valentine and others. To join in on the fun, click HERE.

Mike Piazza at a press conference announcing his appointment as the new Team Italy manager at Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano (CONI) headquarters in Rome on November 29, 2019.

Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza selected as finalist at FICTS International SPORT MOVIES & TV 2020 World Championship in Milan

Organized by FICTS (Federation Internationale Cinema Television Sportifs) and recognized by the International Olympic Committee, the world-renowned Sport Movies & TV 2020 Festival has selected Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza as a finalist in the FICTS Worldwide Championship of Television, Cinema, Sport, Culture and Communication in Milan, Italy from November 7-11, 2020. Director Roberto Angotti returns for his second FICTS Sport Movies & TV World Challenge after his Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Award-winning Italian American Baseball Family documentary was selected as a finalist in 2018.  

The grand final of 20 World FICTS Challenge Festivals spanning five continents, the Sport Movies & TV 2020 Festival will be livestreamed on the ms360.tv website and broadcast live on MS Channel Sky 814. Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza will be livestreamed Monday, November 9, 2020 at 11:15 am (EST) on both platforms.
  
FICTS promotes the values of sport through images in over 123 affiliated nations and is presided over by Professor Franco Ascani of the Italian Olympic Committee Commission for Culture and Olympic Heritage. Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza is among the elite productions of the nearly 1,000 submissions from 50 countries in 52 sport disciplines. The FICTS International Jury, made up of ambassadors in the world of cinema, television, media, sport and culture, will deliberate on which productions to select for “Guirlande d’Honneur” (Oscar of Cinema and Sport Television), “Mention d’Honneur” (Honorable Mention), and “Special Awards” for each of the eight categories.

Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza is a musical odyssey documentary featuring the music of Grammy nominee Pato Banton. Filmed at the Italian National Olympic Committee headquarters in Rome and the 2020 CON6 Baseball and Softball Convention in Rimini, the documentary highlights the celebrated career of National Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza and captures the new leader of the Italian national baseball program as he meets the press and his team for the first time since his appointment. 

Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza provides a behind-the-scenes perspective on the iconic baseball figure and features interviews with Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda, New York Mets Announcer Wayne Randazzo, and former major leaguers John Franco and Chris Colabello. During his induction speech into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Mike Piazza thanked the country of Italy for giving him the gift of his father, whose family roots stem from Sciacca, Sicily. Mike Piazza honored his ancestral heritage by playing for Team Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and later coaching the Azzurri squad to two European Baseball Championships. Forza #Italia!
 

Award-winning director Roberto Angotti and Grammy-nominated Pato Banton collaborate on new film, Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza, which celebrates Hall of Famer’s commitment to Italian baseball

Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza is a musical odyssey documentary featuring the music of Grammy nominee Pato Banton. Produced by award-winning director Roberto Angotti, Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza highlights the celebrated career of National Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza.

The film’s opening scene takes place at the 2020 CON6 Italian Baseball and Softball Convention in Rimini, Italy, where Mike Piazza briefly takes the stage before flashing back to Shea Stadium in New York for the first live sporting event post-9/11. Through the lyrics of his song “What a Come Back”, renowned musician Pato Banton collaborates with director Roberto Angotti to tell the story of how Mike Piazza’s heroic home run helped heal a shaken-up nation in fear. In the case of Mike Piazza, who has beaten the odds from being a last-round courtesy draft pick to becoming a National Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee, the opening song exemplifies the resilience and perseverance Mike Piazza and the American people possessed.

New York Mets play-by-play announcer Wayne Randazzo makes brief but poignant appearances throughout the 36-minute documentary to attest to Mike Piazza’s footprint in New York and sports history as well as validate the Hall of Famer’s commitment to the growth and development of Italian baseball. Using tidbits of information from Mike Piazza’s New York Times best-selling autobiography Long Shot, the film touches on young Mike’s childhood affinity for Spider-Man and his pregame ritual of eating Tastykake on the way to Philadelphia Phillies games at Veteran’s Stadium.

Narrated by Pato Banton‘s song “No Worry Piazza,” the film retraces the path that Mike Piazza took growing up. A cameo appearance from longtime family friend and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda confirms that Mike was overlooked as a prospect by major-league scouts at that time. The film traverses Piazza’s journey from high school baseball star to National Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee and on to his newest role as manager of the Italian national baseball team. Interview segments from former New York Mets pitcher and teammate John Franco as well as former MLB player and current Team Italy slugger Chris Colabello gauge the excitement around Mike as the new leader for Italian baseball.

Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza is presented his jersey during a press conference announcing him as Italy’s national baseball team manager at the Italian Olympic Committee headquarters in Rome on November 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar)

The film revisits Mike Piazza’s call to the National Baseball Hall of Fame when he was selected as an inductee. With the backdrop of Pato Banton’s guitar-driven anthem “Never Give In Piazza,” viewers experience the determination and resilience of Mike Piazza firsthand. Making his way to Cooperstown, New York for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Mike recognizes the roles that Tommy Lasorda and Reggie Smith played in his career. Piazza embraces the life lessons learned from these baseball legends, including to never give in and to never quit. Mike gives thanks to the country of Italy for giving him the gift of his father, whose unwavering faith in him served as an anchor. Then he honors his mother for giving him the gift of his Catholic faith. His parents formed the foundation upon which Mike grounded his career and life, and he brings that same foundation into his own marriage and family.

Using the classic “Niceness” rhythm, Pato Banton treats viewers to a new song entitled “Baseball Reggae,” an ode to the game and Italian family heritage Mike cherished with all his heart. It also pays tribute to the Italian baseball family of Joe DiMaggio, Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra, Ernie Lombardi, Tony Lazzeri, and Phil Rizzuto. The film reveals Mike’s Italian roots in Sciacca, Sicily, and he honors his family heritage by playing for Team Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

In the next song, “Go Mike Go”, Pato Banton personalizes the reggae classic and creates a fitting tribute to the leader of the Italian baseball revolution, Mike Piazza. From the first beat of the song when Citi Field comes alive as the site of the Mike Piazza Day celebration, viewers travel across the Atlantic mid-song and follow Mike Piazza to Italy. Then Mike Piazza speaks to the media for the first time from the Italian Olympic Committee headquarters in Rome after the official press conference announcing the new Team Italy manager took place.

The film also captures Mike Piazza being interviewed by the Italian press at the 2020 CON6 Baseball and Softball Coaches Convention in Rimini. Using Pato Banton‘s “My Opinion” rhythm as a soundtrack, Team Italy manager Mike Piazza and pitching coach Bill Holmberg talk to their players behind closed doors about what it will take for them to make the upcoming World Baseball Classic roster. Highlights from Team Italy in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic competitions are shown with Pato Banton‘s “Gwarn Piazza” in the background.

Mike Piazza and Bill Holmberg share their philosophy of developing players at all age levels and their ongoing commitment to growing the game of baseball in Italy with director Roberto Angotti. The film concludes with rare footage of the 2020 CON6 Coaches Convention where Mike is freely taking photos with fans and signing memorabilia. Ultimately, Introducing Team Italy Manager Mike Piazza shows how much the Hall of Fame catcher loves Italy and how Italy wholeheartedly embraces him. Forza #Italia!

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Grammy nominee Pato Banton and director Roberto Angotti in the recording studio (Photo by Peter McEvilley)

Roberto Clemente credited for bringing David Giusti to the Pittsburgh Pirates

1971 Pittsburgh Pirates
Roberto Clemente (far right in top row) and Dave Giusti (fourth from right in middle row) in 1971

Prior to the start of the 1970 MLB season, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Joe L. Brown was looking to trade for some pitchers to enhance his team’s chances for a World Series title. He approached Roberto Clemente and asked “The Great One” who he should go after.  The Latin American hero from Puerto Rico responded, ” Get the little Italiano from St. Louis. If Giusti is sound, then he can help the Pirates. He has always had good stuff, and he is a tough competitor.” On October 21, 1969, Joe L. Brown made a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals to bring Dave Giusti to Pittsburgh. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2002, Dave Giusti said , “I did okay against Clemente, and that’s one of the reasons I ended up with the Pirates.”

The oldest of two sons born to David and Mary Giusti on November 27, 1939 in Seneca Falls, New York, Dave Giusti‘s first word out his mouth was reportedly “ball”. With a father who played semi-pro baseball before his birth and an uncle who was the captain of the Syracuse University baseball team in 1957, Dave Giusti had athleticism in his DNA from an early age. He followed in his uncle’s footsteps to become the captain of the Syracuse University Orangemen in 1961, when the baseball squad went on to the College World Series but came home empty-handed.

The Houston Colt .45s, a National League expansion team, signed Dave Giusti as an amateur free agent shortly after college graduation on June 16, 1961. He used part of the $35,000 signing bonus to pay off his parents’ medical bills and purchase an insurance policy. The promising MLB prospect simultaneously pursued a high school science teaching career while earning a master’s degree in physical education during the off-season.

Dave Giusti made his MLB debut on April 13, 1962. He remained with the Houston organization through 1968 and played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969. Prior to being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dave Giusti was used as a starting pitcher. Bucs manager Danny Murtaugh converted him to a reliever. Assuming a new role as the club’s elite closer in 1970, Dave Giusti put together a 9-3 record with a 3.06 ERA and 26 saves.

Manny Sanguillen and Dave Giusti

During the 1971 regular season, Dave Giusti helped the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 1971 regular season by leading the National League with 30 saves and posting an impressive 2.93 ERA. He was also instrumental in the 1971 National League Championship Series when he became the first MLB player to pitch in every game. In four scoreless appearances and 5.1 innings pitched, Dave Giusti gave up just one hit with two walks and three strikeouts. He later led the Pittsburgh Pirates to the franchise’s fourth World Series Championship title (1909, 1925, 1960, and 1971) after appearing in three 1971 World Series games and picking up one save. Dave Giusti achieved major career milestones including playing in his first MLB All-Star game and being named Sporting News National League Fireman of the Year in 1971. He became even more dominant in 1972 when his ERA dropped one point to a minuscule 1.93 and he tallied 22 saves.

The next season proved to be traumatic following the loss of teammate Roberto Clemente, who died a martyr after losing his life aboard an ill-fated aircraft full of supplies destined for earthquake victims in Nicaragua on December 31, 1972. The Pirates dedicated the 1973 season to the legendary humanitarian and player. Despite not having Roberto Clemente in the lineup and in right field, 1973 National League All-Star Dave Giusti put together a 9-2 record with a 2.37 ERA and 20 saves. Readers wanting to learn more about the late and great Roberto Clemente should check out Roberto Clemente facts most don’t know: Part 1-U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Roberto Clemente and Roberto Clemente facts most don’t know: Part 2-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Vic Power.

In 1974 Dave Giusti became the first relief pitcher in MLB to earn a $100,000 a year when he delivered 12 saves and a 3.32 ERA in over 105 innings pitched. After returning from elbow surgery, the dominant Pirates closer saved 17 games with a 2.95 ERA in 1975. The following year sportswriter Harry Stein named Dave Giusti as the relief pitcher on his all-Italian team in an Esquire magazine article. He was 47-28 with a 2.94 ERA and 133 saves in his seven years as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dave Giusti  was traded to the Oakland Athletics in 1977 when he went 3-3 with a 2.98 ERA and six saves in 40 games before being dealt to the Chicago Cubs late in the season.  The proud Italian American finished his 15-year career in 1977 with a 100-93 record, 145 saves, and a 3.60 ERA.  The closer with impeccable command threw a total of 335 ninth innings during his career and set the MLB record for most ninth innings pitched without hitting a batter.

Dave Giusti was inducted into the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1987. He was also the first Italian American baseball player inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame (GSSHF) in 1989.  Since then fellow MLB veterans Jason Grilli (2019), Armond Magnarelli (2004), Frank DiPino (2000), Luke LaPorta (1991), and Anthony Simone (1991) have joined Dave Giusti in the GSSHF.