Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Colabello Breaks Franchise RBI Record

Rock Cats First Baseman Collects Record #98 With Sac Fly RBI
September 2, 2012
colabello rbi record

colabellorecordNEW BRITAIN, CT - New Britain first baseman Chris Colabello launched a sacrifice fly into  center field to score Oswaldo Arcia in the midst of a six-run fourth inning by the Rock Cats - and with that, he became the new franchise single-season RBI record holder.

"I really haven't taken much time to think about it," said Colabello, "but it seems like a pretty cool thing. At one point it will sink in this off-season and I'll realize all the great players who have come through here."

Colabello, who broke Steve Hacker's record of 97 RBI set in 1999, currently has 98 RBI with one game left in the regular season. Colabello now looks to become the first ever player in New Britain franchise history to knock in 100 runs.

At 28 years old, Colabello was simply thrilled to be given the opportunity to play with a Major League affiliated team for the first time in his career this season. Colabello starred at Division II Assumption College before going undrafted in 2005. He signed with the Worchester Tornadoes and became a local hero of sorts, all while waiting for the chance to take the next step. The Minnesota Twins finally gave the former Independent League star a shot when they signed Colabello this past off-season - and it has more than paid off.

Colabello has been the offensive leader all season for the Rock Cats. He has also provided the team with leadership, despite technically being an Eastern League rookie.

Hailing from Milford, Mass., Colabello has been able to play in front of family and friends on a regular basis - something uncommon in the professional ranks.

On Saturday night when he tied the mark, his family was right there cheering from the stands. Among the most nervous was his mother, Silvana, who alternated from standing and cheering for her son to frantically pacing the concrete behind her seats. Colabello gave them something to celebrate when he lined a double up the middle into center field to score Chris Herrmann. The RBI tied the game and tied the franchise single-season record of 97 RBI.

"I tried to keep it out of my mind. It's obviously a nice honor to have. Anything I can do to help the team win games, especially at this point when we are in a playoff race. I hit it hard and it went through. I didn't even realize it was the RBI to tie it," said Colabello.

colabellorbiHis family and friends were out in droves once again on Sunday when he set the new franchise record.  It is something his father, Lou, who estimated about 30-40 friends and family members turned out this weekend to watch Chris make history, was obviously proud to witness.

"I think right now it's just a phenomenal experience," said the elder Colabello. "I just said to my friend, I don't think I've ever experienced anything better than this in my whole life. I just hope that his efforts get him to the next level and if they don't then we can just thank the Twins for giving him the opportunity to be here. I can tell you something, he's probably the happiest kid in the world right now."

The fact that Lou and Silvana - along with friends and family members - were in the stadium to witness the feat is storybook in itself. Most players in Double-A aren't able to have a constant connection to home cheering them on from the stands. With the Colabello family in Milford, Mass., they have the rare opportunity to drive less than 100 miles to watch Chris play for the Rock Cats. It is something his dad has been overjoyed about.

"Counting today, I think this is my 97th game," said Lou Colabello. "At the beginning of the season, I made it a point to watch as many games as I could. My wife (who was born in Italy) was in Europe for seven weeks and that gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time with him."

Lou Colabello explained that he has always had a close bond to his son. With Lou's own father once having a dream of his son playing in affiliated baseball - even though Lou admits he probably wasn't good enough - it became Lou's dream for his son as well. Baseball has helped bond the Colabello boys.

"We've had our days because I played baseball and I coached baseball and I've been his mentor since he was six so we have our conflicts but we seem to always get through them. It's just been so exciting," said Lou.

colabellofamThe elder Colabello also mentioned how fortunate he was to be able to witness his son achieve such a momentous personal accomplishment. Lou explained how he met other players' girlfriends and parents and couldn't believe that they were only able to visit for a week - or even a weekend. He has become close to players such as Aaron Hicks who have family far away and asked them how their families manage.

"I know the games I didn't go, the most nerve wracking thing is listening on the radio. (Rock Cats radio announcer) Jeff (Dooley) is an amazing announcer but it's like a heart attack every time he's up at-bat," said Lou Colabello. "We were blessed to watch him play in the Independent League (for the Worchester Tornadoes). He was a half hour away from our house. And this year was just a gift from heaven, it really was."

Chris has also appreciated the fact that his family is so close and so involved in his baseball career.

"It's been unbelievable," he said. "To think about how fortunate I was to be able to play this close to my hometown and have family around on an almost nightly basis and to have their support. When things get rough it's always nice to look up and see a friendly face. I play this game for them as much as I do for myself. I know they have been supportive and passionate. It's great. I love them and I appreciate them being here."

Photos: (top right) Daniel Rohlfing greets Chris Colabello at the dugout steps after the record-breaking RBI on Sunday ; (middle) Colabello hits a sac fly RBI for his record-breaking 98th RBI of the season; (bottom right) the Colabello family, inlcuding mom, Silvana (in orange) , cheer after Colabello tied the redord on Saturday night.