Today, Ultra Palermo would like to introduce a new segment on the site entitled, “Passion from the People”. It’s a chance for you – the fans – to tell your story of how and why you became a Palermo fan. If you would like to participate, send an email to [email protected] with your story.
To kick off the series, we have a very special guest who is well known to American baseball fans. Mike Piazza was a Major League Baseball catcher whose career spanned from 1992 to 2007 and played most famously for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. Piazza is in the baseball Hall of Fame and was a 12-time All-Star who holds the record for most home runs by a catcher. He is famous in the United States and even internationally for his baseball career. Piazza also served as a coach for the Italian national baseball team but he’s here to talk about another passion of his. Here is Mike Piazza, in his own words, on the first installment of Passion from the People.
As a young child growing up outside of Philadelphia, I was able to participate in many sports: baseball, basketball, American football, and soccer to name a few. Obviously, my talents took me more in the direction of baseball.
One thing that was present in me was my father’s distinct love of his Italian heritage and Sicilian ancestry. I can’t tell you how many times my father would say “Amuni a monjare, beddu”, and “mezza mortu”. He would also take a strong stand against negative Italian American stereotypes saying that they “don’t represent the real Italians”.
He also said that Sicily is the most unique and culturally diverse island on the planet. He took me on a trip to Sicily and showed me his father’s hometown, Sciacca, and we were able to see all the amazing ruins, beaches and feast on the food and wine. After that trip I became somewhat obsessed with Sicilian history and did much research. Also, I found many other Italian Americans that shared the same background (Jon Bon Jovi).
As I retired from baseball I started coaching and consulting with the Italian national baseball program. The times I have spent with the national team are filled with many memories and much success (two-time European Champions). I also needed a new outlet and that was Calcio, Palermo specifically.
I guess the first reason I fell in love with Palermo Calcio was the obvious geographic closeness to Sciacca. But, as I started to research the history of the franchise I was surprised to learn of the many accomplishments and great players who donned the Pink and Black.
The history would not be complete without the many frustrations, setbacks and losses as well. The history of Palermo Calcio mimics the history of Sicily very closely. An island of a proud and diverse people that has been occupied by many invaders. The team always seems to produce great players that seem to venture on to greener pastures and bigger, better-funded clubs. But, that will never stop true fans from loving Palermo.
I look forward to there eventual return to Serie A and hope they can contend one day for the Scudetto and the Champions league. Also, I absolutely love to here the radio broadcast from the voice Giuseppe D’Agostino. His calling of the great games give me the chills.