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.
Parasiliti: Corapi completing his 'last roundup' with Federal 'rodeo'
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)