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Monday, April 28, 2014

Gammons: Chris Colabello took road less travelled to chase major league dream

And another man named Colabello, moving around mysteriously…

The journey of Chris Colabello stretches all the way back to 1969, when his father Lou pitched for a University of Massachusetts team that made it to the College World Series in Omaha. Lou was hurt much of his junior and senior seasons, and after graduating played for the Milford Town Team and in 1977 went to play for the Rimini club in the Italian League, which he led in wins three times. There Lou met his wife Silvana, and in 1983 Chris was born. Lou Colabello pitched for the Italian team in the 1984 Olympics against the United States, a brief, ineffective stint beginning with Shane Mack; the one out he recorded was Mark McGwire.

...Colabello’s Worcester Tornadoes career began in 2005. His second home run was off Oil Can. “I loved those bus trips to Quebec or Ottawa or the desolate area of New Jersey because it was baseball,” he says. “My teammates there were some of the best friends I’ve ever had. We shared so much.” From 2005 through 2010, he rode those buses, but before the 2011 season, at the age of 27, he told himself he had to “make a splash to get a chance.” He batted .348 with a .410 on base percentage and .600 slugging percentage and after the season was told by J.J. Cooper of Baseball America that he’d been chosen as the magazine’s Independent League Player of the Year, like, years before, Daniel Nava had been so honored and signed by the Red Sox by a dollar, the Daniel Nava Colabello says “has been my inspiration.”

He heard from the Diamondbacks, but nothing came about. Red Sox scout Ray Fagnant told him he had an opportunity for him overseas. In January, a scout and former teammate named John Birtwell, a former Harvard pitcher who now is scouting, contacted 29 of the 30 teams on Colabello’s behalf, the one team he didn’t contact being the Twins. But eventually he got hooked up with a Twins scout named John Wilson, who worked him out in Milford and signed him to a minor league contract and a spring training gig in Fort Myers, Florida.

...Which, on a minor league deal, Chris Colabello accomplished. He’s playing with Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe, staying in four star hotels and riding buses to airports, avoiding security lines, and as of Monday morning has helped the Twins to a 12-11 record, good enough to be within a game of the Detroit Tigers. “I try not to think about all that’s happened because I don’t want to get caught up in it,” he says. “I just try to think about helping the Twins win each day. That’s what baseball is. That’s what I love.”

Be it the Mill City All-Americans facing Joe Smith in North Adams or the Worcester Tornadoes on the bus ride to play the Ottawa Rapides, it’s just baseball. Tuesday night, it’s Zack Greinke and the Dodgers in Minneapolis, at the intersection of dream and reality.

Repoz Posted: April 28, 2014 at 06:01 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, twins

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   1. Greg K Posted: April 29, 2014 at 12:27 AM (#4696365)
in 1977 went to play for the Rimini club in the Italian League, which he led in wins three times.

Josh Phelps played for Rimini too. Are they a powerhouse of the Italian League or something? Have other major leaguers spent any time there?

Answering my own question, Ramon Castro played for them in 2013. Though not that one.

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