It would be an understatement to say Mid-Island Little League’s journey in the Little League World Series captured the attention of Staten Islanders the last few weeks as their games became the buzz around the borough. Although the Travis squad was eliminated Thursday night after dropping a 7-3 decision in the losers’ bracket final, the run for the title was one the players and coaches will never forget.
The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce is proud of the effort and professionalism the boys displayed while portraying Staten Island in a positive light on the way to capturing the District 24, Section 3 South, New York State, and Mid-Atlantic Regional titles. Their enthusiasm and fun spirit became infectious when watching them on television or reading about them in the various media outlets.
The community latched on to the team by holding watch parties at restaurants and homes all over Staten Island. Also, some businesses found ways to help raise funds for family members to help defray costs for the expenses endured throughout the summer for the different tournaments.
With each victory, the boys suddenly became household names. One of those players was John Calabrese Jr. Many Staten Island Chamber of Commerce members may recognize the name as part of fellow Chamber member, John Calabrese Financial.
The financial institution is named after the late John Calabrese Sr., who died suddenly in 2014 at the age of 45. His son, John Jr., was the team’s starting first baseman and his brother, Joe, was the manager.
During the tournaments, many outlets profiled the Calabrese family and the story of John Sr. Hearing John’s name connected to the team certainly brought up memories for employees at John Calabrese Financial, which is comprised of John Ross, William Diodato, Richard Kenner, Daniel Buckley, Stacy Hoffman, and John “Jack” Fraser.
“When we told (Calabrese’s wife) Christine that we wanted to keep this name, it was to make sure his name didn’t disappear,” said Ross, a senior financial planner at John Calabrese Financial. “There was a point in 2014 and 2015 where his name was said in moments of sadness. And now, it’s about proudness”
Ross said it was bittersweet knowing that although his close friend wasn’t watching from the stands in Williamsport, Pa., his presence was still prevalent at the Little League World Series.
“You looked at the stands and saw Christine and his daughters and everyone cheering for John Jr. and the team, but then you saw that missing spot,” said Ross. “Although in the physical world he was missing, he was not missing from beyond. He was there in spirit, and he was there in heart.”
Although it’s possible some people learned more about the Travis-based business through MILL’s run, Ross said that’s not the case with most clients.
“One thing about John is he wasn’t a secret to anyone. From the moment we lost him in 2014, there wasn’t a time when someone came in and didn’t know all about John,” said Ross. “John was a private person to some extent, but to his clients, he wasn’t private. He made sure that he got involved in their lives. And they were involved in his life. Even if it wasn’t on a personal level, they knew what was going on with him. He was proud of that.
“Our clients are in awe. They think it’s an amazing memory and it’s an amazing legacy,” he said.