Chicago White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino paid a visit to Team Italy and New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) coach Frank Catalanotto on January 29, 2020 to assist his players on baseball fundamentals. The former major leaguers played together on the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004 and 2005 as well as on Team Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Both Italian American players continued to connect with their ancestral roots through baseball. Frank Menechino played for Nettuno in the 2008 Italian Baseball League before launching his professional coaching career, while Frank Catalanotto played again for Team Italy in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and later became a member of the Team Italy coaching staff for the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics.
Team Italy coach and 14-year MLB veteran Frank Catalanotto was honored with the Italian American Baseball Foundation (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. In his inaugural 2019 season at NYIT, head coach Frank Catalanotto led the Bears 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.
Frank Menechino began his professional coaching career as a hitting coach in the New York Yankees organization, spending two seasons at Double-A Trenton (2009-10) and three at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (2011-13). He then moved up to the big leagues and spent five seasons (2014-18) on the Miami Marlins coaching staff, including three (2014-16) as the assistant hitting coach and two (2017-18) as the hitting coach. Among the players Frank Menechino coached in Miami were Dee Gordon, Marcell Ozuna, J.T. Realmuto, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich. Former Marlin slugger Giancarlo Stanton credited Frank Menechino for changing his stance during his 2017 when he led MLB with a franchise-record 59 home runs, 132 RBI and .631 slugging percentage to eventually win the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
The Chicago White Sox hired Frank Menechino, who they selected in the 45th round of the 1993 MLB draft out of the University of Alabama, as the hitting coach at Triple-A Charlotte last season. Charlotte led the International League in runs scored, ranked second in on-base percentage and slugging percentage and ranked third in home runs during the 2019 season. Frank Menechino was named Chicago White Sox hitting coach on October 10, 2019. Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn spoke highly of Frank Menechino and said, “He’s got a very sound message about his approach to hitting and teaching hitting. He’s an effective communicator in getting that message across to players. And he has a number of different tools in his box about how to get that message across and different ways to teach and effectively get guys to buy in to what he’s preaching from an offensive standpoint.”
Frank Menechino played seven MLB seasons, including three with the Oakland Athletics (1999-2004) and two with the Toronto Blue Jays (2004-05). Frank Menechino said, “I played in the minor leagues seven years before I made it. I made it up, I came back down, I went back up. Played in the playoffs. I’ve been through everything there is. It’s definitely helped me because I can relate to almost everybody’s situation. When it comes to relating to players and dealing with the stuff that they deal with on an everyday basis — slumps, personal stuff, girlfriend stuff, everything that’s going on — you’ve got to know when to put your foot down, when to pat them on the butt, when to pick them up, when to enlighten the situation. My experience in pro ball has definitely helped me be the coach I am today.”
Both Frank Catalanotto and Frank Menechino were recognized for their excellence by their respective New York hometowns in 2011 when Frank Catalanotto was inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame and Frank Menechino was inducted into the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame. Let's hope the dynamic duo can reunite with former 2006 World Baseball Classic teammate and current Team Italy manager Mike Piazza as part of the Azzurri coaching staff to win the 2021 World Baseball Classic. Forza #Italia!
by Roberto Angotti