The third annual Italian American Baseball Foundation (IABF) Dinner and Fundraiser for Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) was a smashing success at Carmine's Sports Bar and Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York on December 6, 2018. Since its inception in 2016 when the IABF honored National Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza at the inaugural launch, IABF Board Members Joe Quagliano, Fabrizio De Robbio, Carmine Gangone and Michael DeSapio have successfully attracted some of MLB's royalty to help in their efforts to bridge the gap between America and Italy. All proceeds from the annual fundraising dinner support youth baseball abroad by building and maintaining fields, awarding student-athletes with scholarships and financial aid, purchasing uniforms and equipment as well as organizing pitching, fielding, and hitting clinics with MLB instructors under the guidance of FIBS.
Last year's honorees, Bobby Valentine and Gary Perone, welcomed the 2018 IABF Guest of Honor John Franco and the 2018 IABF Baseball Executive of the Year Jon Morosi. Earlier this year, former MLB pitcher and one-time Team Italy pitching coach John Franco along with Mark Cardillo, Carmine Gangone and Joe Quagliano traveled to Italy for a series of baseball clinics in Rome and Nettuno. A short documentary of their trip can be viewed by clicking HERE. Jon Paul Morosi is a proud Italian American who has been an avid supporter of Team Italy in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics while serving as a well-respected reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network. He has also covered baseball for FOX Sports, the Detroit Free Press, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
It was a doubleheader for Joe Quagliano and John Franco as the dynamic duo were pitching the IABF hours before the main event at Carmine's Sports Bar and Restaurant. Prior to the fundraising dinner in Brooklyn, IABF president Joe Quagliano and 2018 Guest of Honor John Franco were hard at work supporting ICAP Charity Day in New York. The dynamic duo talked about the Italian American Baseball Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity, and its growing community of fans, MLB players, and baseball executives dedicated to the future of baseball in Italy and the USA. Needless to say, it was a very good day of networking for the IABF as conversations with some heavy hitters in Hollywood and the world of sports took place. Among those who expressed interest in learning more about the IABF were Michael Douglas, Joe Namath, Evander Holyfield, Don Mattingly, and Nick Swisher.
Critically-acclaimed restaurateur Carmine Gangone, who also serves as treasurer on the IABF Executive Board, awaited the arrival of guests to the sold-out soiree at his family-owned Brooklyn restaurant that was opened 40 years ago by his Italian immigrant father from Salerno. Before long, laughter and light-hearted conversations filled the room as the early birds arrived to sample an assortment of tantalizing appetizers including the world-famous brick oven gourmet pizza. Soon after, the local media along with the YES and MLB Networks entered with cameras and microphones in hand.
Team Italy was well represented with manager Gilberto "Gibo" Gerali, team captain Alessandro Vaglio with teammates Brandon Nimmo, Drew Butera, John Andreoli, and Chris Colabello accompanied by his father and Azzurri legend Lou Colabello. Other MLB luminaries included Lee Mazzilli with son L.J. Mazzilli, Carl Pavano, Frank Menenchino, Mike Pagliarulo, Sal Romano, and J.J. Franco as well as renowned broadcaster Ed Randall, famed strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavalea, and WFAN Sports Radio's Danielle McCartan. The third annual IABF Dinner was in full effect.
New York Mets announcer Wayne Randazzo served as emcee for the memorable evening. FIBS vice president Fabrizio De Robbio kicked off the festivities with a message from president Andrea Marcon and thanked the IABF for its commitment and contributions to Italian baseball for the past three years. He then turned his attention to one of the most loyal Team Italy players in recent times, Chris Colabello, who deservedly was awarded the 2018 Italian Baseball Ambassador of the Year. Team Italy manager Gibo Gerali followed with a speech on the importance of the 2019 European Championship and qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.
Everyone in the Italian traveling delegation including FIBS general secretary Giampiero Curti, marketing and communications director Marco Landi, and manager Roberta Soldi, could not agree more with the Azzurri skipper's call for action and sense of urgency. Although IABF president Joe Quagliano did not take center stage, he and co-host Carmine Gangone were truly the stars of the fundraising dinner. Their tireless efforts went far beyond the one night engagement as they orchestrated three days of meetings between IABF and FIBS officials with such organizations with the Jackie Robinson Foundation and other influential groups. The IABF made Mike Piazza (2016) and Joe Maddon (2017) honorary members so that they would lead the nonprofit organization to greatness. Working together as one, the IABF and FIBS are making a difference in elevating the quality and the growth of the game in Italy and America. To learn more about how you can join the the IABF winning team and make a tax-deductable contribution to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, click HERE.
by Roberto Angotti