Saturday, November 9, 2013

Coming Soon…

For my forthcoming book "More Kenosha Softball” I took a look at some of the top speed merchants, shortstops, pitchers, etc. in Kenosha. I focused on one individual in each category and provided an “all-time” list of the others. In this excerpt, I interviewed Tim Georno and discussed what made managing Tirabassi’s so special.

While Georno enjoyed playing in tournaments outside of Kenosha in places like Watertown and Manitowoc, he said that there was nothing better than playing in the Final 8 at Simmons Field. He said nothing compared to that atmosphere, “It was the best!” With that in mind, it is a given that his fondest memory occurred when his Tirabassi team not only played in the Final 8, but in the City Championship at Simmons Field.

And to think, Tirabassi’s nearly didn’t make it that far.

That’s right. After winning their first two games of the tournament, Tirabassi’s was knocked into the losers’ bracket when tournament favorite Stanich Realty crushed them by the slaughter rule, 13-1. That occurred the first weekend of the tournament! Because there were 60 teams entered in the tournament, it had to be played over a two-weekend period. Losing so early in a tournament of that size meant that Georno and the rest of Tirabassi’s had a very daunting task ahead of them.

Remarkably, with some unforeseen inspiration, they were up to the task.

On the Saturday night of the first weekend of the tournament, members of the Tirabassi team had assembled at the Sunnyside Club, a popular Kenosha watering hole. Among those discussing the team’s future with Georno were Rocky Tirabassi, Larry Carbone and Carmen Pillizzi. Having won all of their games since being destroyed by Stanich, the group was cautiously optimistic. They realized that it wasn’t going to be easy, but they were determined to get to Simmons Field.

Overhearing the Tirabassi group, a local Kenosha News sportswriter decided to join in the discussion. No shrinking violet, the writer brazenly announced that he didn’t know why they were so fired up, they didn’t have a chance to win it. Evidently he didn’t think it was likely that Tirabassi’s was going to be able to continue winning. Tirabassi outfielder Larry Carbone thought otherwise. He challenged the Kenosha News scribe boldly with, “What the hell do you know?”

Carbone was right. After that little exchange at the Sunnyside Club, Tirabassi’s turned it up a notch. Or, as Georno put it, “T’s got hotter than hell!”

The next day, Tirabassi’s stayed alive, winning its games. They had made it to the second weekend; their quest to get to Simmons Field was still within their grasp. The following Saturday they fulfilled that mission. At Lincoln Park, Tirabassi edged out Finney’s Snowblind Oasis 1-0 on a controversial home run in the 6th inning by Rich Salisbury. They had secured that trip to the Final 8 at Simmons Field. And, when they got there later that evening, they kept the train rolling by knocking off Sorensen Mfg.

The next day, Tirabassi’s beat Matador Lounge 6-3, fourth-place Oriental Inn 13-4 and third-place Finney’s Lounge 2-0. For their efforts, Tirabassi’s earned the privilege of battling their nemesis, Stanich in the finals for the City Championship. Stanich, the defending champions, roared into the finals by demoralizing a strong Finney’s Lounge team 22-7 in the undefeated game. All they had to do to repeat was win one game against Tirabassi’s.

Tirabassi’s, although on an inspired mission, still had to do the unthinkable and knock off Stanich twice. To a man, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Maybe that’s why sponsor Domenick Tirabassi did something that Georno doesn’t remember him ever doing before. He spoke to the team. This caught the young Tirabassi manager totally by surprise.

Georno said that Domenick Tirabassi was the best sponsor you could ever ask for. He never intervened and would always show up for the finals of big tournaments. That’s why it was so unexpected when he spoke to the team between games of the City Tournament finals. It wasn’t a fire and brimstone sermon. That wasn’t his style. With his team gathered around him, Domenick Tirabassi simply said, “I don’t care what happens in this game. Win or lose, I just want you to know that I’m so proud of you guys.”

Evidently, those two heartfelt sentences from the sponsor must have hit home with Georno’s squad, because they proceeded to do the unimaginable. Tirabassi’s, before a huge crowd at Simmons Field, upset the defending champ Stanich Realty in two championship games, 7-4 and 6-5 in 12 innings to win the 1982 Men’s City Slowpitch Championship.

I anticipate “More Kenosha Softball” being available for Holiday gift giving. If you are interested in picking up a copy of my first book, “Some Kenosha Softball”, it is currently available only at the Kenosha History Center located at 220 51st Place down by the harbor. Until next time…from the booth.

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