Bellizzi knew baseball well and taught it well, but maybe what made the biggest impact on Bellizzi's players was how he taught them about interacting with one another and the world. He was loyal"he always made sure the members of his team had a fair shot at their future. O'Connor tries to remember these values that Bellizzi instilled in him when working with his own players and when working on his own coaching style.
"There are 412 people who came through the baseball system and nobody has a negative thing to say about [Bellizzi]," says O'Connor.
Bellizzi used these same values when working with his campers.
In the last years of Bellizzi's life it was physically difficult for him to participate as much as he did in the beginning with both his camp and baseball team (amongst the other programs he ran). Confined to a wheelchair, he would enter the gym where his baseball players were practicing, bring it into the highest gear, and chase his players around. He always tried to have a good attitude about life.
Bellizzi's Grand Slam camp is geared towards children aged 6 to 15. Considered a summer day camp, it's run out of the Elm Avenue Park in Delmar from 9 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and each session is five days long. The first session starts Monday, July 7. The camp will run straight through for the following six weeks. Campers can sign up for as many sessions as they'd like. Some campers have attended Bellizzi's Grand Slam Baseball Camp for all six weeks straight.
"We do some light instruction with the kids, but mostly we focus on [them] having a positive and fun experience," says Kim Bellizzi, who helps run the camp.
Campers are broken up into small groups during the day, mostly by age. During the morning they work on a particular baseball skill, and then in the afternoon they eat lunch in the pool complex, take a dip, and return to the field for a game of baseball or a contest, which encourages light-hearted competitiveness.