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Parasiliti: Corapi completing his 'last roundup' with Federal 'rodeo'

July 08, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

In another time and another place, Dennis Corapi would have saddle sores.

For 27 years, he has participated in what cowboys would call “team roping.”

Out west, that’s a competition. Here in Hagerstown, it’s considered Little League baseball.

Corapi is the manager of Federal’s 11-12 All-Stars. He’s been in the position before, but this time, it’s different.

“This is my last rodeo,” Corapi said on Thursday.

After 27 years of working with young and upcoming baseball talent at Federal, Corapi will be walking into the sunset after this “rodeo.”

If this were the movies, it’s Corapi’s “High Noon.”

For now, he stands five minutes before the clock strikes 12. He is there to help a new batch of players learn the game he loves while achieving some success to feel good about.

It’s a tough job to do, especially in these days of parental interference and ego, but Corapi does it for all the right reasons.

He truly embodies the title of “youth baseball coach.” He’s an endangered species on that front.

That’s because he coaches to coach, not because he has an offspring on the team. He has never coached his own child and never will.

Still, he woke up with a reason to come back for 27 straight seasons.

“The kids keep me going,” he said. “They are good kids and I’ve made a lot of friends. I was going to retire from this last year, but I came back to see these kids through as 12-year-olds.”

Call it dedication or commitment, if you need to categorize it, but Corapi wanted to see this passion through to the end.

He had been coaching a number of Federal’s All-Stars from the first time they stepped on a baseball diamond as 7-year-olds five years ago.

They weren’t his kids, but he got a bond.

Call him a surrogate father without the bother.

“I thought about quitting after last year, but there are a lot of kids on this team I wanted to coach,” Corapi said.

It’s all about the kids. Even after 27 years, Corapi still exhibits a deft touch while working with youngsters, even in this day when authority is questioned and self-centered impulses are prevalent.

Corapi didn’t yell, scream or call anyone out as Federal fell behind early and never recovered in a 16-6 loss to Clear Spring on Thursday in the Maryland District 1 tournament opener.

He was rather grandfatherly as he reasoned with his team in key points of the game, looking as if he was trying to get them to realize the situation without causing panic or dismay.

In one instance, when Federal was on the brink of losing by the 10-run rule in the fourth inning, Corapi went to the mound to speak with his pitcher. He called the entire team — including the outfielders — to join in the discussion as he gave instruction and encouragement at the same time.

Federal staved off the early ending in the fourth and scored runs in the top of the fifth before being swept away by Clear Spring by the 10-run rule.

“(Clear Spring) is a good team,” Corapi said. “They got on top early and we didn’t respond. … The kids didn’t give up, but when we scored runs, we didn’t hold them in the next inning.

“We have to work on it. We’re in the losers’ bracket, but we’re not out of it yet.”

Federal hosted Sharpsburg on Saturday in an effort to stay alive.

Life as Federal and Corapi knew it ended in a 13-1 loss.

Each out and each inning dropped a little more time in Corapi’s hourglass. Any win would have been a pleasant respite to prolong the inevitable, preventing time from running out on Corapi’s stay in a Federal dugout.

Victories would have added another game, day and week to his routine that lasted nearly three decades.

He never throught about that end, but it was in the back of his mind.

“I’m going to have to find something else to do. My wife already told me she doesn’t want me bothering her.” Corapi said with a half-smile.

But he indicated, with some level of certainty, that whatever he chooses will still include coming to Federal Little League’s complex to see friends and the kids who he was involved with for a huge part of his life.

He will just have to get used to doing it from the other side of the fence.

No matter where he sits, nothing will change what Dennis Corapi added to the Federal program.

Cowboys always say, “Good guys wear white hats.”

At Federal Little League, they wear red and blue ones.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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