On July 10, John Franco, Mark Cardillo, Carmine Gangone and Joe Quagliano I traveled to Italy on our 1st official IABF visit. The trip was organized and planned by Marco Landi and FIBS.
On our first day in Rome we met with FIBS Pres. Marcon as he gave us a tour of the Italian Olympic Village (Acquacetosa) as well as a private tour of the soccer stadium where Serie A teams Roma and Lazio play. Earlier in the day we met with Giovanni Malago the President of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). It was very exciting to meet him as he expressed his gratitude for what the IABF is doing.
The following day John Franco and Mark Cardillo conducted our first IABF youth clinics in Rome. It was a great turnout and well organized by FIBS.
We then traveled to Nettuno where John and Mark held youth clinics as well as a coach’s clinics at the largest Baseball Stadium in Italy. Over 100 boys and girls participated in our Nettuno clinics. Nettuno is also named Baseball City. Baseball was introduced to Italy by the soldiers that landed and fought on the beaches of Anzio in WWII.
We also had time to visit the American Cemetery in Nettuno and learn the story of First Lieutenant Gerst Buyer, an American soldier who was photographed playing baseball on the beach at Nettuno and lost his life just a few days later. It was a very moving visit. I recommend that anyone vising Italy should stop at one of the 3 American Cemeteries there and pay homage to those who made our lives possible. http://www.baseballsgreatestsacrifice.com/biographies/buyer_gerst.html
On July 14 we traveled to Salerno, Italy on the invitation of Pascale Ianetta the owner of the Salerno Thunder. We were asked to view their baseball facility and evaluate his team. We witnessed baseball truly being played at the grass roots level.
The field was raw and in need of serious renovation. Most members of the team were in need of new bats, cleats and gloves. Yet this didn’t stop them from playing. We watched as they played on a dirt field with 2nd hand gloves and chipped bats in 90 degree heat.
We could feel their passion for the game and promised them that we would donate a shipment of bats, gloves and other equipment. I can’t express how appreciative the kids were to hear about our donation.
It was a very humbling experience.
This is just a small part of why we started the IABF.
After our visit to Salerno we traveled back to Nettuno for more youth clinics and then to Rome for a coach’s clinic conducted once again by John and Mark.
Our trip to Italy was a great success. Over 300 youths and about 60 coaches attended our clinics in Rome and Nettuno. We were able to evaluate the level of talent and realize their need for better and more experienced coaching. The IABF will provide this by conducting many more baseball and coaching clinics in the future.
After just two years from our inaugural dinner in 2016, we are starting to achieve some of our goals with clinics and equipment donations. We realize that we can make a difference in a youths life even if its just for a day. Like I stated above, “We are just getting started”.
Thanks to John, Mark, Marco and our friends at FIBS for a job well done. Bravo!
The entire trip was filmed and the final product will be shown at our December dinner.