“It’s hard to ignore an email message from someone named Chattypatti,” says Mary Ann Choate, mother of outfielder Sam Choate ’12.
“Chattypatti” is none other than Patti Rafalski, mother of Hamilton pitcher Brendan Rafalski ’11. Back when Brendan was a freshman, she found herself missing the parental cohesiveness and involvement that had existed during her son’s high school years. So, with encouragement from Continental baseball Coach Tim Byrnes, she aimed to rally the families via email before the 2009 season. The response was overwhelming. Not only did a passionate communal spirit develop, but Hamilton’s baseball tailgates have become the stuff of legend. It all surfaces not only for every home and away game up North, but also during spring training in Florida. “That was a bonus for us, to be so warmly welcomed so far away from campus,” says Brian Prindle, up from Gainesville, Fla., to see his son, Kevin ’13, pitch today.
The afternoon’s repast, between games of a doubleheader against Williams, represents the parental support that typifies Continental sports. Bruno Colapietro ’57 discusses the Hamilton baseball of his era. Three generations of Continental Castellanos are here: outfielder Robert ’11, Cosmo ’74 and his father, Frank ’42. Tables overflow with subs, pizza, wraps, brownies, cookies and the pepperoni bread that Rafalski makes especially for Coach Byrnes, who says, “It’s my all-time favorite food. Period.” Family members mingle with coaches and players, present and past, all of whom will attend an alumni dinner tonight, fostered by Byrnes.
“These kids wear their Hamilton hearts on their sleeves,” says Mary Ann. “They are a scrappy bunch and, while they may not be the league’s most successful team, they are the most-supported. And the best-fed.”