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A Dream Realized, Colabello Makes it to the Majors

Milford athlete Chris Colabello was called up to play for Minnesota Twins.
Contributed photo


Nearly every boy who's ever donned an oversized little league uniform has imagined the moment when he gets "the call" to the big leagues. It's a moment that's been depicted in film and literature and a dream fulfilled for the few fortunate enough to experience it in real life.
For Milford native Chris Colabello, "the call" came in the middle of the night on a bus heading from Lehigh Valley, Penn. to Rochester, N.Y. "We had an off day scheduled, so we were driving through the night to head home and I heard [Minnesota Twins third baseman] Trevor Plouffe was going to the disabled list," said Colabello. "All I could think was 'I hope he's OK,' I didn't really put two and two together."
Colabello, a first baseman and outfielder, was hitting a sizzling .358 with 12 home runs for the Twins' AAA affiliate in Rochester. Although considered "old" for a Major League prospect at age 29, he had been one of the top hitters in the International League through the first two months of the season. Just a few minutes after hearing the news about Plouffe, Colabello saw his manager, Gene Glynn, stand up and start walking towards the back of the bus. It was a long ride and after 1 a.m., Colabello figured the skipper just had to use the restroom.
"He stopped in front of me and said 'I've got some news for you, you're going to the big leagues,'" said Colabello. "The whole bus erupted. I guess everyone realized the road I had taken there and how big a moment it was for me."
The Road
When I caught up with Colabello, he was getting back to his hotel room in Milwaukee. The Twins had beaten the Brewers that afternoon and he struck out in a pinch hit at bat. That hotel room was, both literally and figuratively, miles away from the overnight bus rides and seven years spent playing in the independent Can-Am League where the average salary is less than $2,000 a month. Colabello had a brief stint in affiliated ball when he was invited to Spring Training by the Detroit Tigers in 2006, but he was released after less than a month. He had to wait another six years until the Twins signed him to an AA contract last season. His road to the majors is unusual and impressive, but not something he spends a lot of time thinking about.
"At the end of the day, I still have to go out and play baseball," he said. "Whether it's the Can-Am League, the minors, or the majors, the game is the same. Maybe someday I will take the time to reflect, but to sit back and reflect on it now is irresponsible, I have to go out and play and help my team."
Even before the seven years in the Can-Am League, Colabello was a bit of an underdog. He wasn't the typical prodigious star in high school, waiting until his junior season to secure a starting role with the Milford High varsity team. He didn't play college baseball for a big time program, but instead was a star at Assumption College, a Division II school in Worcester.
Ask him whether he ever thought of giving it up and you'll receive an answer before you're finished asking the question. "No, wholeheartedly no," he said. "Whether or not someone ever game me the chance to show it, I had the conviction and belief that I could make it. I was going to play until playing was no longer an option, either physically, mentally, or financially. I knew I loved the game and wanted to compete at the highest level, whether I got that chance was beyond my control."




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