Italy + 20 baseball stadiums + 3000 kilometers of driving + 7 days …. a lot of pasta = A great experience
Florence – After concluding the whirlwind Italian baseball facility evaluations today, I depart with new friends after meeting wonderful people around the country that are truly committed to developing baseball. The stadium tour as you can see from the map was pretty extensive. There is work to be done to the ballparks before the 2009 World Cup but the best part is that we have time. The concept of hosting the World Cup in multiple European sites is pretty cool not to mention a great marketing plan for game development in this Region. More importantly improving the ballparks will benefit the growth of the game. “Better fields , make better players”
Yesterday we concluded the day in Nettuno. As the local organizing committee quickly informed me, this is where baseball was born in Italy. The World War II photo illustrates a US solider taking a little BP in a bunker near the stadium here in 1944. The ballpark itself was obviously one of the best of the 20 parks and sites that we reviewed. Between Grosseto and Nettuno these fields are pretty good. They each still have some things to tweak, but still better than most. The head grounds man at the park in Nettuno (Mario) was eager to show me his collection of photos and memorabilia from over the years. It was quite impressive. He also had made a pitching platform for the mound to protect the grass in
front of the mound area. Similar to what we have in the US that rolls out to the mound. The “pitching deck” is made from wood planks and has a nice Arabian carpet floor runner glued onto the surface. Very creative. In 1994 the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the ballpark was at the center of the celebration as several US military bases still remain very active in Italy.
Did I tell you I had more Pasta last night and for lunch? Sandro and
Fabio have been troopers during this ordeal. I can’t thank them enough for making the experience an enjoyable one considering the amount of kilometers we drove. (Actually Fabio drove) After a 2 hour train ride from Florence to Rome it’s off to Amsterdam for a few more parks before heading back to the USA.