Reusse: For the Colabello family, it's a baseball life

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2014 - 12:43 AM
hide

Minnesota Twins first baseman Chris Colabello throws to first to retire Boston Red Sox's David Ross in the third inning of an exhibition baseball game Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, in Fort Myers, Fla. The Twins won 8-2 over the Red Sox. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Photo: Steven Senne, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– Milford is a town on the edge of Greater Boston, the very heart of Red Sox country. Somehow, Lou Colabello managed to reach high school there as a fan of the Dodgers.

“I was a lefthanded pitcher,” Colabello said. “In the late ’50s and the ’60s, there was one lefty … Sandy Koufax. I grew up idolizing Sandy and rooting for the Dodgers.”

Colabello made his way from Milford to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. As a sophomore, Lou was 3-2 with a team-leading 2.62 ERA and the Minutemen reached the 1969 College World Series.

“That was a good enough season for me that it looked like I was going to have a career,” Lou said. “Then, I was playing basketball that winter, came down wrong, tore all the ligaments in an ankle, and missed most of the next season.

“I disappeared off the Earth as far as the baseball scouts knew.”

Colabello was teaching and pitching summer ball in the Boston Park League. Late in 1976, a friend of American Legion baseball — Ed Orizzi — called and said his team in the Italian League, Rimini, was looking for a pitcher, and was Lou interested?

Lou’s response: “Baseball in Italy. Are you crazy?”

Ed wasn’t.

“Rimini is on the Adriatic Sea … the Italian Riviera,” Lou said. “You pitched once a week and laid on the beach the rest of the time.”

He pitched for Rimini for eight years. He met Silvana and they were married in 1981. They were in Massachusetts in October 1983 when a son, Chris, was born.

Lou’s pitching career ended in 1984. Later, he coached at San Marino, and then worked as a team manager for the Forli basketball team for five years. His star was Darryl Dawkins.

The Colabellos resettled in the Boston area in 1994. Lou returned to teaching and coaching. Chris had inherited his father’s passion for baseball. He was a lanky 6-4 and a righthanded hitter.

Lou’s lack of ardor for the hometown Red Sox was increased when they worked out Chris, told him he would be taken in the first 20 rounds, then didn’t draft him out of Assumption College in 2005.

Chris wound up with the Worcester [Mass.] Tornadoes of the independent Can-Am League. The manager was Rich Gedman, former standout catcher for Lou’s danged Red Sox.

“I was a pull hitter; always had been,” Colabello said. “I remember my first batting practice, Rich Gedman said, ‘Try to hit a line drive to second base. See if you can do it.’ I didn’t hit a home run to right field as a professional until 2011.”

Lou said: “He’s not lying.”

Colabello was in his seventh season of independent baseball when he hit that first right-field home run. The Twins signed him on a flier at age 28 on Feb. 2, 2012, to perhaps fill a spot in the minors.

Sixteen months later, on May 22, 2013, he made his major league debut with the Twins. He had found great success at Class AAA Rochester with an odd hitting approach:

Standing well off the plate, inviting a pitch away, and then using long arms and strength to drive the ball to right field.

“I wasn’t a big fan of it, but when he’s putting up those numbers … I wasn’t going to be the guy to tell him to change,” Lou said.

Colabello batted .352 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 338 at-bats at Rochester.

What Class AAA pitchers saw as a mystery in Colabello’s approach, big-league pitchers saw as an invitation to blow inside fastballs past him. He batted .194 with seven home runs, 17 RBI and 58 strikeouts in 160 at-bats. He had an offer to go Korea for sizable bucks this winter.

“[Twins GM] Terry Ryan said, ‘Whatever you want to do,’ but he also said that I would have a chance to make the Twins,” Colabello said. “That’s all I wanted to hear.”

Colabello is now closer to the plate and not aimed toward right field. So far, he’s doing OK with inside pitches and hitting well. He’s got a shot to open with the big club.

“All I can tell you about Chris is he’ll be playing baseball as long as someone gives him a uniform,” Lou said. “I think he might love the game even more than his dad.”

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. preusse@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Notes from camp: Bartlett still looking for first hit

    Saturday March 15, 2014

    Unlucky Bartlett still 0-for-springPORT ST. LUCIE, FLA. – Jason Bartlett still hasn’t caught a fly ball. And he hasn’t hit...

  • Diamond Ks 6, Twins rally for tie with Mets

    Sunday March 16, 2014

    Scott Diamond, vying to become the Twins’ fifth starter, allowed two runs over 3 2/3 innings, but used his curveball effectively.

  • Postgame: Santana rushing into errors at shortstop

    Saturday March 15, 2014

    Rookie shortstop making mistakes by trying to do things too quickly, Gardenhire says

  • Chris Colabello, right, was greeted at the plate by Trevor Plouffe after the two scored in Colabello’s two-run homer Wednesday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
2:10 PM ET123456789RHE
ClevelandC. Kluber (16-9)000
MinnesotaA. Swarzak (3-1)000
@theBallpark
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - D. Hutchison 12:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Tanaka
Washington - S. Strasburg 12:10 PM
Miami - N. Eovaldi
NY Mets - J. deGrom 12:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Boston - J. Kelly 12:35 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 12:35 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay - N. Karns
Cleveland - C. Kluber 1:10 PM
Minnesota - A. Swarzak
Detroit - R. Porcello 1:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Seattle - H. Iwakuma 1:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Los Angeles - J. Wright 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Texas - N. Tepesch 2:35 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong 3:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Arizona - W. Miley 3:10 PM
Colorado - C. Bergman
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 12:30 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 4:00 PM
Washington
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Columbus
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Calgary
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 2:00 PM
Toronto FC
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close