Ah, Summer. There’s nothing quite like unpacking the old leather and Wonderboy, listening to the crack of the bat, gargling out a few aimless “hey battah battah whaddya say kid?”s, and dragging on a cigarette while sipping some espresso.
Yes, there may be a few quirks thrown into the storied American past time, but baseball is alive and well in the Mediterranean. The Italian Baseball League, founded in 2007, boasts eight teams. The squad closest to Rome is just a short hour and fifteen minute train ride south in sunny Nettuno, where baseball first arrived in Italy along with guns, grenades, and Old Glory during the Italian Campaign of World War II. The American soldiers who were stationed in Anzio/Nettuno after pushing the German forces off the beaches taught the game to the locals, and the tradition has remained ever since.
Nowadays the Danesi Caffè Nettuno…Nettunos — they don’t seem to have a mascot, though Cleveland Indian hats are common, which probably just has to do with the similarity in jersey color — can be watched every other weekend in their home digs, Lo Stadio Steno Borghese, located just outside the Nettuno city center. It takes about 20-25 minutes to walk from the train station; beware, dear readers, as sidewalks are few and far between. Tickets are €5, Peroni Grandi €3, though security is nonexistent so one could easily bring in a bag of food, beer, etc. Seating is first come first served. Also, dogs are allowed. And bicycles. And cigarettes. And smiles!
Go to enjoy the sun, the electric atmosphere, or to cheer on Americans Chris Criscenzi, Marc La Macchia, and Ray Sadler (who played in the MLB and oddly enough homered off of one of my favorite ballplayers, Noah Lowry, for his first major league hit back in 2005).
Here’s the schedule. Catch ‘em while they’re hot like the espresso sipped in the stands; they’ve rattled off nine straight wins.
*Cool Runnings reference credit to loyal reader Matt.