New York Gala hints of promising future for IABF and FIBS
04/12/2023 3 Minute Read

New York Gala hints of promising future for IABF and FIBS

The Italian American Baseball Foundation celebrated a historic year with nearly 500 guests joining the festivities at Marina Del Rey in Bronx, New York on Thursday, November 30, 2023. From the documentary 'Mission: Classic' to the doubling of scholarships, Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball President Andrea Marcon could not be more happy with the progress of the long-term relationship with IABF and the launch of new partnerships.

Wayne Randazzo, Los Angeles MLB play-by-play announcer and IABF Gala emcee, summed up the celebration accurately with his opening remarks: "At this event, just seven years ago, there were 75 of us, elbow-to-elbow in Carmine's restaurant (owned by IABF Vice President Carmine Gangone). Today we are over 450 and this is a sign of the incredible growth of this foundation and the objectives it is capable of achieving.”

The New York event is culmination of all the programs that IABF President Joe Quagliano and his colleagues have been able to implement over the course of the year. The IABF leader commented, “What a year! So many things have happened since the November 2022 gala, starting with Italy's exciting run at the World Baseball Classic. We are very grateful to all those who participate in our events and continue to support the noble cause of scholarships and youth talent development through international relations.”

The IABF sponsored over twenty MLB and MiLB 'Italian Heritage Games' during the 2023 season with the likes of the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels. In addition, the IABF promoted, supported and participated in the famed Columbus Day Parade, a golf tournament on Long Island, and a cigar dinner with National Baseball Hall of Famer and Team Italy manager Mike Piazza. All IABF events raised funds and awareness of the long-term goals and objectives of bridging the gap across the Atlantic. IABF President Joe Qualgliano, Vice President Carmine Gangone,  Secretary Mark Cardillo, Treasurer Joseph DiMartino, Board of Directors Natalie Spedaliere, Frank Catalanotto and Chris Vaccaro have tirelessly and collectively put forth their dedicated efforts with the ongoing support of like-minded individuals who love the game and everything Italian.

In 2023 alone, the IABF created the documentary Mission: Classic, which was selected as a finalist by the Federation Internationale Cinema Television Sportifs (FICTS) for the World Challenge in Milan, led the IABF Travel Team to the finals of the Hot Stove Long Island League, organized together with FIBS an important step of the College Pipeline program with the first ‘Between the Lines Softball Junior College Showcase’ in Bollate, launched the online recruitment portal for international athletes and coaches interested in playing and coaching in Italy and, above all, awarded 13 scholarships for Italian and Italian-American student athletes (including Samuele Bruno, Vincenzo Bruno, Izabella Cimino, Chiara Ruberto, Federico Tiburtini, Daniel Monti and Francesco Bonvini).

Several of the most important entrepreneurs of Italian descent in America attended the 2023 IABF Gala to shake hands with guest of honor Terry Francona, idol of Boston fans for being able to erase the 'curse of the Bambino', Salvatore 'Torey' Lovullo, who achieved the small miracle of leading his Diamondbacks to the World Series a few weeks ago, the legendary Chris Russo, the 'Mad Dog' of New York radio, and Philadelphie Phillies Director of International Scouting Sal Agostinelli.

Among those who were recognized and awarded on this special night were National Softball Hall of Fame Coach and Italian Senior Advisor Mike Candrea, MLB International Ambassador Dan Bonanno, Parma legend and Team Italy star player and coach Sal Varriale and Florida Gators standout and MLB prospect Jac Caglianone. The promising Italian American during his second year at the University of Florida was named First Team All-American and Best Position Player by the American Coaches Association (ABCA).  Coined “the Shoei Ohtani of the future” as a two-way player with 33 home runs and 90 RBI as well as 7 wins and 4 losses with a 4.34 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 74.2 innings of work.

Autograph hunters had a field day at the IABF Gala with the baseball greats of yesterday and today mixing in the crowd. VIPs included Mike Piazza, Frank Catalanotto, John Franco, Mike Pagliarulo, Sal Frelick, Vito Friscia, Joey Marciano, Joe Lasorsa, Ryan Castellani, and Brian Sweeney.

The buzz was in the air at the IABF Gala following the unprecedented Team Italy fifth-place finish at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. FIBS President Andrea Marcon and MLB executives had productive discussions regarding the future of the game in Italy. Team Partner Steel Sports was represented to reinforce how its world-class athlete development and coaching system will lead to success in Italian baseball and softball. A growing amount of interest by international entrepreneurs to create possible partnerships was also expressed to FIBS executives.

FIBS President Andrea Marcon said, “I am particularly satisfied because never before have there been events like this year that I believe will be able to very concretely and significantly promote the growth of our movement. We have addressed all the characteristics of baseball and softball in Italy with sincere transparency, from the aspects of which we can be proud in the international amateur context to which we belong, to the profoundly negative ones that must never be repeated, and we have done so together with rigorously competent interlocutors, who will be able to concretely support and help us achieve a change of pace that we cannot postpone. The Convention at the end of January in Rimini will already be an opportunity to announce important news which I have no hesitation in defining as historic."

Forza #Italia!

by Marco Landi and Roberto Angotti

(Photo of recipients of the 2023-24 IABF/FIBS College Pipeline Scholarships by Chris Herder)