By Bob Elliott
When Tony Caputo and Paul (Shakey) Triolo gathered to watch their sons play for the Toronto Mets they were like a lot of baseball parents.
They sat and complained.
“Why doesn’t Toronto have this? Why doesn’t Toronto have that?” was the way the legitimate in-game conversations.
“We’re a city of five million people and we don’t have a decent baseball park with a suitable grandstand.”
Caputo and Triolo didn’t sit on their hands.
They got things done. They answered their own questions on their own.
Step one was the 15,000-foot Out of the Park Sports indoor baseball facility on Birchmount in Scarborough which opened in April of 2013.
And step two -- with more to come -- came Monday night when Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar sat at the podium to say he would run his Roberto Alomar Baseball Academy and his Foundation 12 charity in conjunction with Out of the Park.
Alomar showed his ability as a coast-to-coast fund raiser with the Jayscare Foundation raising money to lower the costs of Tournament 12.
“We want to raise money to fix parks, help kids who sometimes don’t get the chance to play,” said Alomar after watching 145 kids at Monday’s Tournament 12 tryout sessions.
His Foundation 12, a Canadian charitable organization, will focus efforts and programming to help youth players in Canada in three segments: in high priority communities, including players from low socio-economic status that do not have the financial means; with physical or cognitive disabilities (Challenger Baseball, Miracle League, or Special Olympics) and the elite looking to continue their education through scholarship or to sign with a pro team.
“Baseball is a great direction to keep kids on the right path,” said the Hall of Famer, “kids will be able to come to the academy, the Roberto Alomar Academy is for everyone.
“We hope kids can enjoy the game, grow as a player and follow their dreams.”
The next step is a larger facility with a 120-by-120 foot infield and the next step will be a ball park done in conjunction with the city of Toronto or on private land.
“Tony was the first person to approach us with a meaningful plan and now is the perfect time,” Alomar.
Aaron Caputo, Tony’s son, runs Out of the Park, home to Scarborough, North York, Whitby, Pickering and Mets teams, while Johnny Caputo is a senior with the Stony Brook University Seawolves on Long Island. The former member of the Canadian Junior National Team is hitting .245 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 40 games.
Paul Triolo got to see his dream, Out of the Park, open in January of 2013, but by that May passed at Mt. Sinai. The facility is dedicated in his memory.
Robbie’s Hall of Fame father Sandy Alomar, gold glove winner Devon White, World Series closer Duane Ward, former No. 1 pick Lloyd Moseby (whose four-year-old grandson was wearing his Blue Jays gear to AT@T Park to watch his grandfather’s team play) and former major leaguer Mario Diaz joined Alomar in Scarborough.
Also on hand as the facility was filled with parents and players were Stephen Brooks and Rob Jack, architects of the Jays recent success with amateur ball.
“We try to develop in a holistic way: education, proper conduct and as a ball player, which is where Robbie will help a great deal,” said Caputo.
“Robbie, his father and his alumni will be the primary coaches and our Toronto Mets coaches, many of whom played pro, will be the secondary coaches.”
The Mets coaches include Chris Kemlo, Rick Leitch, Clare Osborne, Kyle Fillier, Mark Dainty, Justin Picard, Glenn Jackson, Darryl Reid, Peter Angelow, Chris Sereda, Marty Roberts, Hyung Cho, John Marriotti, Greg Densem, Honsing Leung and Sean Seguin.
Aaron Caputo is the president Out of the Park Sports and the Mets. Former 18U coach Ryan McBride is OPS vice-president, while former Mets bosses, John Jepson is director of communications and Jason Chee Aloy remains as a consultant and advisor.
The mission of Alomar’s Foundation 12 is “to create and support signature programs that empower youth players and offer opportunities to improve their quality of life.”
This germ of an idea was hatched at Bond Park.
Who knows what other ideas will be hatched at local diamonds Tuesday night?