Catching is arguably the most difficult position to play in any sport. As the level of competition increases, the laundry list of duties and attention to detail does as well. It starts with developing a relationship with the pitching staff. It is vital that a pitcher trusts his catcher. Then it’s knowing the pitchers; knowing the strengths, weaknesses and tendencies of every single thrower on the staff.
It does not stop there. During the game, a catcher not only has to know his pitcher, but understand patterns of all nine batters in the lineup to call the most effective pitches. This is just a snapshot of the mental side of the position.
Physically, catchers squat for two to three hours per game, quickly drop on their knees to take balls in the dirt off the chest and have to possess the hand eye coordination to make a 90 mph fastball three inches off the black look like a strike. Do all of this then go up to the plate and hit and run the bases three or four times.
The list goes on, but this is just an outline of thoughts that go through the mind of Pete Marsicano every game. Marsicano has been catching for the Pride ever since his freshman year on top of excelling as a physical therapy major.
“I was too small for football. Soccer just didn’t do it for me, but I do enjoy watching our soccer teams. Baseball just makes sense to me,” Marsicano said.
Ironically, Marsicano was not a fan of America’s Pastime in his youth.
“I would complain about going to practice and only really liked the games. Interestingly enough something clicked about the game for me right before middle school, and I began to love it. It was really when I started watching MLB games,” Marsicano said.
Some of his fondest childhood memories are the days spent at the baseball field going through catching drills with his father.
“When (my dad) saw that I had interest in the position, I remember he bought a book on catching just so he could answer questions I had about the position,” Marsicano said. “He still gives me pointers on little things I should be doing behind the plate.”
Through his varsity years at Allentown High School, Marsicano endured a slew of average seasons, but still caught the eyes of Springfield head coach Mark Simeone and the coaching staff.
“I actually had not heard about Springfield until I went to a showcase in North Jersey and Coach DePasquale (one of the GAs at the time) contacted me,” Marsicano said. “I was thrilled that they were interested in my baseball wise.”
Once he was introduced to Springfield College’s esteemed physical therapy program, he was sold.
“I knew I wanted to do PT and when I heard about how great the program is (at Springfield). There was really only one other school I was talking to, Misericordia, and their program was nothing in comparison to our school,” Marsicano said.
Fast forward four years, and the senior is just a month away from sporting the maroon and white one last time. He has welcomed the challenge of balancing baseball and schoolwork for the past several years.
“It’s a lot of work, but it feels rewarding. My favorite part of this point of the program is going to do clinical experiences, and being able to work hands on with patients,” Marsicano said.
In fact, Marsicano and Mark Joao, the second baseman for Springfield, are the first physical therapy majors to continue with their senior seasons of baseball, according to Simeone. Historically, players have opted to focus exclusively on the major because of the rigorous workload.
“One of the biggest reasons I have been able to balance this workload is Mark Joao. We have been close friends since freshman year, and since we are on this path together, it has made any difficulties much easier,” Marsicano said.
On the diamond, Marsicano has been a starter since he arrived at Springfield back in 2014. He has been a stable contributor for the past four seasons, and leads his team in more ways than just the stat sheet.
“He’s an excellent player, certainly an outstanding catcher,” Simeone said. “Pete’s greatest value to our team is the way he handles our pitchers and his ability to call games that cater to the strengths of our guys in an aggressive competitive manner.”
Marsicano has steadily improved ever since freshman year, and even posted a career year last season, slashing .308/.333/.346 with 24 hits and 15 RBI. His agile athleticism behind the plate instills a sense of confidence that pitchers can spike a ball in the dirt with no fear of it going to the backstop.
“I am proud of my career here so far, but I need to improve,” Marsicano said. “Even in my freshmen and sophomore year where we struggled, I gained relationships that made the struggle of the season worth it.”
Being a part of mediocre teams his entire career, this seems to be the year where everything is finally coming together. Springfield is off to one of the best starts in program history, and sits among the best in the NEWMAC.
“This is the most talented our team has been in the four years we have been here. Just watch guys like Mark Joao and Chad Shade play the field. Those guys make plays like you wouldn’t believe. With our rotation of (Brian) Johnson, Babs (Shawn Babineau), (Joe) Gamache, and the Naples brothers, we are going to win a lot of games,” Marsicano said.
Marsicano has undoubtedly impacted his teammates and coaches throughout his four years at Springfield College. His athletic abilities, academic abilities, insane work ethic yet relaxed attitude will surely be missed upon his departure from Alden Street.
“Highly intelligent guy but can be loose and goofy at the same time. [Our team] loves wearing the same uniform as Marsicano,” Simeone said.
Featured photo courtesy of Reef Rogers.