IABF Mission Statement

The Italian American Baseball Foundation works to bridge the gap between Italy and the United States through baseball and softball. IABF’s mission is to grow the game and provide opportunities for youth development through education. The core functions of the foundation are to build a pipeline of baseball and softball players from Italy to the United States through college scholarships and showcases, support the Italian National Teams as American partners and promote heritage and pride for Italian Americans in baseball from high school to the Major League levels.

2023 IABF Guest of Honor Award

Terry Francona

  • World Series-winning manager Terry Francona is one of the most successful managers in modern history and should be in Cooperstown in a handful of years, too
  • Francona, who led the Red Sox to two World Series titles, including the one that snapped a historic 86-year winless streak in 2004, managed since 1997 and played from 1981 to 1990.
  • His 2017 Cleveland team set an American League record with 22 consecutive wins. He was recognized for his efforts as American League Manager of the Year in 2013, 2016, and 2022. Francona has nearly 2,000 wins as a major league manager.

2023 IABF Achievement Award

Torey Lovullo

  • Lovullo, the transformative manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, led his club to a National League Pennant in 2023
  • Lovullo has been in Arizona since 2016 and is the winningest manager in Diamondbacks’ history
  • Named NL Manager of the Year in 2017 and was a coach in Toronto and Boston before getting the head job 
  • He helped the Red Sox win a World Series in 2013
  • As a player from 1988-1999 across seven teams, he appeared in 303 MLB games, where he hit 15 homers and recorded 60 RBI

2023 IABF Executive of the Year Award

Sal Agostinelli

  • Sal Agostinelli is the international scouting director of the Philadelphia Phillies, and he is also IABF’s Executive of the Year and will be honored at the 2023 gala.
  • Sal has been instrumental in building the farm system for the Phillies, and as you can see, they are consistently competing in the NL East. He is also among the most respected scouts in the game, and his impact is known across the international baseball landscape.
  • In 2018, he was named Major League Baseball Scout of the Year as the top person in the game, scouting, advancing, and advocating for talent in his organization. Before scouting, he was a catcher in the Phillies’ organization.

2023 IABF Media Award

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo

  • This man needs no introduction in a room full of New York baseball fans.
  • For nearly 40 years, he has been a fan favorite for his feisty, unflinchingly candid approach to talking sports and the unrestrained, rapid-fire delivery that earned him the nickname “Mad Dog.”

2023 IABF Future Star Award

Jac Caglianone

  • The IABF Future Star Award is presented annually to a young Italian American player who is working hard to achieve the ultimate goal of playing Major League Baseball
  • University of Florida baseball star Jac Caglianone is the 2023 Italian American Baseball Foundation Future Star honoree.
  • Caglianone, often compared to Shohei Ohtani as a versatile and powerful baseball player, is one of the brightest young prospects in the game. 
  • He wrapped up his sophomore season as a Consensus First Team All-American and the ABCA National Position Player of the Year. 
  • He also collected First Team All-SEC honors and was a Golden Spikes Award Finalist, Dick Howser Trophy Finalist, and John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Finalist. 
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2023 IABF Collegiate Award

Mike Candrea

  • One of the winningest coaches in any sport in NCAA history, Mike Candrea, is the inaugural IABF Collegiate Award honoree.
  • He retired in 2021 as the winningest softball coach in NCAA history with 1,674 wins. He led the University of Arizona to eight NCAA Softball World Series championships in 24 appearances, 34 postseason berths, and 11 Pac 12/10 conference titles. 
  • Candrea was the head coach of the United States women’s national softball team in 2004, when Team USA won a gold medal, and in 2008, when they brought home silver.
  • A proud Italian American, he is also an instructor with the Federation of Italian Baseball and Softball.

2023 IABF Ambassador Award

Dan Bonanno

  • Dan Bonanno has played an integral role in the growth of baseball in Europe and Italy for more than 20 years. 
  • The Racine, Wisconsin native played ball at Grand Canyon University in Arizona before making his journey to play professionally in Italy, where he was part of Nettuno, Milano, and Santarcangelo from 1982 through 1988. 
  • In 1989, he began his career as a manager and spent time in Godo, Santarcangelo, and San Marino and later as a coach in Rimini and San Marino.
  • As an employee of Major League Baseball since 2000, his role includes organizing European Game Development programs and working directly as MLB’s International Baseball Operations representative with individual European federations, European national academies, and the WBSC-Europe. 

2023 IABF Ambassador Award

Sal Varriale

  • He has been a true international ambassador as an Italian American who starred for many years, playing professionally in Italy and then managing. 
  • Varriale played for several decades in Parma. He hit .321/.408/.537 with 355 RBI in 370 games in Italy. He hit 72 homers in 1,338 at-bats and appeared in 59 games for the Italian national team.
  • Varriale became a coach and manager after retiring as a player. From 1988-2008, he coached for Parma, a period in which they won 10 league titles, 15 European championships, 4 Italian Cups, 1 CEB Cup, 1 Super Cup, and 3 Mediterranean Cups. Varriale also coached for the national team several times, most notably at the Olympics in 1992 (Barcelona), 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney) and 2004 (Athens).
  • In 2009, Parma retired Varriale’s number 27. As of 2012, he was the Italian scout for the Cincinnati Reds. In 2017, he was named a Knight of the Republic, Italy’s highest-ranking honor. He was inducted into the Italian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.