One swing of Dan Barbero’s bat made Albany Athletics’ history.
Barbero slammed a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to propel the Athletics past the Tampa Elite Rays 7-5 in the finals of the Stan Musial World Series Aug. 13 in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
It’s the first World Series title for the Athletics, for the Twilight League and for any Albany-based Stan Musial team in the 77-year history of the American Amateur Baseball Congress national tournament. And for Athletics founder and coach Joe Altieri, it was a moment he’ll never forget.
“When Dan hit the home run, the feeling was unreal,” said Altieri, a Guilderland native. “When you’re growing up, you want to play in the (Major League) World Series. If you don’t make it to the majors, the next dream is to play in … any championship game and hit the game-winning home run. That’s the dream you have, and as a coach I’ve never been involved in that kind of magnitude of a victory.”
The Athletics traveled to Florida with a roster rich with Capital District talent. Among the local players on the Stan Musial tournament team were Saratoga Springs’ Ryan White, Clifton Park’s Drew Cody, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s JJ Pearsall and Mohonasen’s Ben Paniccia.
“I’ve been blessed to have good local talent on the team,” said Altieri. “It wasn’t long ago I was recruiting kids from outside the region and finding apartments for them to live in. Finally, I got a good nucleus of local guys three or four years ago to build a local team around.”
The Stan Musial World Series didn’t start well for the Athletics. They lost their first-round game to Northwest (Texas) 3-2, which dropped them into the loser’s bracket. Albany fought back and beat teams from Connecticut, Cincinnati and Tampa to advance to the semifinals.