In addition to Italian American Baseball Foundation (IABF) Guest of Honor Joe Girardi and IABF Baseball Executive of the Year Natalie Spedaliere being recognized, Team Italy coach and 14-year MLB veteran Frank Catalanotto will be honored with the IABF Achievement Award at the fourth annual IABF Gala Dinner and Fundraiser for Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) at Giando on the Water in Brooklyn, New York on December 4, 2019.
After playing for Team Italy in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics, Frank Catalanotto played his final MLB season for the New York Mets in 2010. It was during his 25-game stint playing for his hometown heroes that he met ESPN beat reporter Adam Rubin and began following him on Twitter. By the 2010 All-Star break, Frank Catalanotto retired from baseball as a player and Adam Rubin developed one of the largest social media following in sports through his day-to-day coverage of the New York Mets.
Frank Catalanotto returned to Team Italy as a coach in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics, while Adam Rubin finished his 15-year ESPN reporting career. Frank Catalanotto had made a lasting impression on Adam Rubin in the short time together, and a twist of fate united them again. After Adam Rubin took on the assistant athletic director for strategic communications position at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), he witnessed the baseball team's disappointing 2018 season with a 13-25-1 record. When the head coach job became vacant at the end of the year, Adam Rubin knew the right man for the job and took to social media to summon him. He sent Frank Catalanotto a DM (direct message). Adam Rubin said, “If I remember correctly, it took him a few days to get back to me because I don’t think he’s on Twitter every second of every day. But he was intrigued enough to have lunch about it.” Frank Catalanotto replied, “When I first saw the message, I thought to myself, ‘No I’m not I’m not interested.'"
Having not interacted with ESPN NY Mets beat reporter Adam Rubin and being off the diamond for eight years, life without baseball was incomplete for Frank Catalanotto. Since retiring from the game he loved with a passion, he had spent most of his time taking his four daughters to and from athletic practices while flipping houses. His appetite for baseball had not faded, and the need to compete had not been fulfilled. He rationalized that his daughters were in school for seven hours, and real estate transactions didn’t exactly satisfy his desire to take care of unfinished baseball business. Frank Catalanotto said, “I mean everyone thinks, ‘Oh, you’re 36 years old and you’re retired, you’re so lucky.’ And I was, don’t get me wrong. But there was something missing.”
One of the most accomplished position players from Long Island in Major League Baseball history, Frank Catalanotto joined NYIT Athletics on June 7, 2018. He went right to work assembling an all-star coaching staff at New York Institute of Technology. He recruited NYIT alum Ray Giannelli, who played for the Toronto Blue Jays and the St. Louis Cardinals as well as fellow Italian American Angelo Coscia to serve served as bullpen coach. Coach Coscia brought along Jimmy Goelz and Chris Rojas, both of whom he had previously worked with as assistant coaches at St. Dominic High School. Another proud Italian American, Frank Battaglia, added the finishing touch to the NYIT coaching staff. Adam Rubin supplemented the coaching excellence with some heavyweight special guests including David Wright and Hideki Matsui. In no time at all, NYIT baseball implemented an upbeat culture built around success at a school where failure had become commonplace after 11-straight losing seasons since 2007.
In his inaugural 2019 season, head coach Frank Catalanotto led the NYIT baseball team to their first NCAA tournament berth since 1983 and the first College World Series appearance in school history with a program-record 37 wins and a year-end number 13 ranking. He also was named ABCA East Region and ECAC Coach of the Year. So it should come as no surprise that Frank Catalanotto will be honored with the IABF Achievement Award at the fourth annual IABF Gala Dinner and Fundraiser for Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) at Giando on the Water in Brooklyn on December 4, 2019. For tickets and more information, click HERE. Forza #Italia!
by Roberto Angotti