The Sugar Land Skeeters, the 2018 Atlantic League Champions, hope to repeat with the help of Team Italy slugger Chris Colabello batting cleanup and playing first base. Replacing the retired James Loney as the Independent League team's everyday first baseman, 35-year-old Chris Colabello is now a regular fixture in the Skeeters infield. Playing in back-to-back road games of a doubleheader on May 7, 2019 against the Lancaster Barnstorners, the proud Italian American walked in both contests. In his final at-bat in the nightcap, he singled and later scored in the Skeeter's 15-6 sweep over the Barnstormers. Chris Colabello returned the following day to contribute with a sacrifice fly RBI in Sugarland's 6-3 win on May 8, 2019. With the victory, the Sugar Land Skeeters have won five games in a row and lead the Freedom Division by 3.5 games with a 9-5 record this season.
Chris Colabello participated in Team Italy's 2019 Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona. The Azzurri cleanup hitter was awarded Best Hitter of the Super 6 Baseball Tournament last September in the Netherlands. He ranked first for Team Italy in batting average (.700), on-base percentage (.750), slugging percentage (1.450), hits (14), walks (4), stolen bases (1), RBI (14), home runs (5) and total bases (29) while coming a close second in runs scored (11). After being invited by the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers for pro ball try outs in 2018, Chris Colabello joined the 2018 Major League Baseball Players Association Free Agent Spring Training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Chris Colabello also managed to make his mark off the field as he co-authored a critically-acclaimed book with hitting instructor Bobby Tewksbary entitled Be A Hitter.
Opting to get a Major League Baseball contract instead of returning to the minor leagues, Chris Colabello chose to reunite with Team Italy pitcher Alessandro Maestri and play for T&A San Marino last year in the Italian Serie A1 League. Both players spent their formative years competing against each other in the Emilia-Romagna region. While Chris Colabello returned to his native Massachusetts to play high school baseball, Alessandro Maestri remained in Italy to attend the Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) Academy and later became the first Italian-born and developed pitcher to sign a professional contract with the Chicago Cubs in 2006. Although Alessandro Maestri never pitched in the major leagues, Chris Colabello made his MLB debut (Minnesota Twins, 2013) and two years later led the Toronto Blue Jays to the 2015 American League postseason. He last appeared at the MLB-affiliated level in 2017 when he played for the Milwaukee Brewers Triple-A affiliate Colorado Springs and was interviewed with Azzurri teammate Gavin Cecchini in Las Vegas for the award-winning documentary Italian American Baseball Family. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti