With an ongoing commitment to bringing the Italian American experience to the 25 million Americans of Italian descent, Italian American Podcast hosts Anthony Fasano, Dolores Alfieri Taranto, John M. Viola, Rossella Rago, and Patrick O’Boyle give Italian Americans the opportunity to learn about and celebrate their proud heritage. In Italian American Podcast Episode 150, internationally-acclaimed Lawrence Baldassaro, author of Baseball Italian Style: Great Stories Told by Italian American Major Leaguers Crosetti to Piazza, and Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball, sheds light on his upcoming book due in 2021 on Tony Lazzeri, the first Italian-American superstar during the 1920s and 1930s.
During the podcast, Lawrence Baldassaro reminisced about Mike Piazza when the slugger played for Team Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic (WBC). MLB enlisted the services of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor emeritus of Italian Lawrence Baldassaro, who served as interpreter for the Azzurri in the 2006 WBC. "Of all the younger Major League players I interviewed for my book, Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball, none was more in touch with, and interested in, his Italian heritage than Mike Piazza. And his commitment to baseball in Italy is unmatched among those his age," said Lawrence Baldassaro.
As a passionate supporter of Italian baseball, Lawrence Baldassaro witnessed firsthand the chemistry Team Italy possessed during the 2017 WBC exhibition games against the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics in Mesa, Arizona. After Team Italy was eliminated in the 2017 WBC, he wrote some eloquent and comforting words: “Regardless of the outcome, Team Italy comes away from this tournament with the knowledge that they played their hearts out and were on an even footing with some of the best players in the world. Surely their performance, marked throughout by energy, enthusiasm, and camaraderie, was a tribute to (former) manager Marco Mazzieri and the entire coaching staff.”
Since studying at the University of Bologna in mid-1960s and attending some games in Italy, Lawrence Baldassaro has seen how baseball has evolved over the years in Ihe Motherland. He said, "The game has come a long, long way. It has become quite popular, never replacing calcio, of course...but has made great strides." Lawrence Baldassaro mentioned Alex Liddi making it as the first Italian-born and developed player to play in MLB (Seattle Mariners, 2011) and that more Italian prospects will eventually follow in his path to become Big Leaguers.
Italian American Podcast also heralded the efforts of the Italian American Baseball Foundation (IABF), a 501(c)(3) charity bridging the gap between America and Italy. The IABF supports youth baseball in the U.S. and 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 Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS). To support and become a member of the IABF, click HERE. To listen to Episode 150 of Italian American Podcast featuring Lawrence Baldassaro, click HERE. Forza #Italia!
by Roberto Angotti