The Staten Island Mid-Island Little League had a pretty good year. The team came mighty close to winning a championship until its unfortunate 10-0 loss to Hawaii in the Little League World Series.
Had the team won, the Mid-Island Little Leaguers would have been named champions of the Mid-Atlantic Region and played in the championship game in the United States bracket.
And the team’s success can be attributed in no small part to its Brooklyn-born coach Joe Calabrese, who grew up at 73rd Street and 12th Avenue before his family moved to Staten Island. Both of his sons attended Poly Prep Day School in Dyker Heights, as did quite a few members of his team.
On Thursday, Sept. 6, Calabrese and his team were recognized for their success with a proclamation presented to them by state Sen. Marty Golden at a special dinner in their honor at Ponte Vecchio restaurant in Bay Ridge.
“It was a pleasure meeting the Mid-Island Little League Team and congratulating each player for making it to the 2018 Little League World Series.” Golden said. “Manager Joe Calabrese did an outstanding job leading his team to the series and teaching the kids the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship. I wish them continued success both on and off the baseball diamond.”
Calabrese was thrilled to receive the proclamation. “Being from Staten Island, it was nice knowing we had support from all five boroughs in our bid to win the Little League World Series,” Calabrese told this paper. “It was truly remarkable how Brooklyn and the city of New York rallied around our boys.”
Calabrese’s team also had great things to say about him. “Coach Joe was extremely tough on us because he wanted to get the best out of us,”pitcher Gregory Bruno said. “We worked hard every day to achieve our goal of getting to the Little League World Series and we did. We came up short but we were happy with our tournament run.”
Calabrese was quick to acknowledge the assistant coaches including Anthony Ferrante and Al Bedford.
Ferrante is a Brooklyn native who just recently moved to Staten Island. He was born and raised in Bensonhurst, graduated from Lafayette High School and coached at Xaverian High School from 2003 to 2008. He also coached Poly Prep Ivy League baseball to seven state championships from 2009 to 2018.
“The team got an amazing speech from Senator Marty Golden, along with a standing ovation and some excellent food,” Ferrante told this paper. “It was great to see how happy these boys had made the whole city this summer.”
Shortstop Steven Martinez expressed his gratitude for his coaches. “Our coaches pushed us really hard because they believed we had the talent to get to the World Series, and they were right,” Martinez said. “I am so happy we got the chance to play in Williamsport. It was really great and we will have these memories forever. Coach Joe and Coach Al and Coach Anthony made us believe in our abilities and to trust ourselves.”