|Pete Alborano batting in a Southern League game for the Memphis Chicks. Alborano played parts of three seasons with Memphis. (Photo Provided)|
Part 3: League Leader | Part 4: Different Role
Pete Alborano's professional career started about as strong as a career can start: In his first official at bat, he hit a home run, he recalled recently.
Alborano recalled being shocked that it went out.
"I didn't even think I hit it hard," Alborano told The Greatest 21 Days recently. "It was just like a pop fly and it just kept going. It went right down the line and it went over the fence."
"I was thinking, 'Wow, this is going to be great. This is going to be easy,'" Alborano recalled later . He even allowed himself to look far ahead; maybe he'd make the majors. "I found out real quick that it was not going to be easy."
Despite that early success, regular power over Alborano's seven professional seasons proved elusive. He still stuck around for seven seasons.
He stuck around, he recalled, because he hit for average and he hustled.
"There are so many things you can do that don't require any talent," Alborano said, "and one is hustle. ... I was always that. I always hustled."
Alborano never did make the majors, but he did play three seasons at AA and part of a fourth just two steps away from the bigs.
|Pete Alborano, center, played in the Royals system for six seasons. Also pictured are teammates Harvey Pulliam and Darryl Robinson. (Photo Provided)|
Alborano spoke to The Greatest 21 Days recently by phone from his Long Island home. He covered his career in the game from its start playing for his father at Brooklyn College through his time playing in the minors for the Royals and then the Phillies.
He also told of his time learning the game growing up and his time since. He's spent his time since in new careers, including is current job as a sheriff's deputy on Long Island, and a new sport. That new sport: Breeding and showing dogs.
Alborano grew up in Brooklyn. His father and namesake Peter Alborano also played professionally, spending time in the 1950s at minor league outposts in Florida and Texas.
Alborano recalled both his father and his older brother having roles in getting him involved in baseball. He recalled watching his father and brother play catch and hit. Alborano watched, listened and learned.
He played his high school ball at Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High. The school that put out several notable graduates, including Lee Mazzilli.
A small and skinny kid, Alborano recalled never really thinking about the pros in high school. His senior year, he recalled being 5 feet, 6 and weighing maybe 130 pounds. He wasn't professional material, at least then.
"But I was always able to hit the ball," Alborano said. "Even at a young age, I always had the ability to hit the baseball."
|Pete Alborano suited up for Brooklyn College. He played at Brooklyn College from 1983 to 1986. (Photo Provided)|
He recalled a handful of area colleges taking notice of him in high school despite his size. One college, though, had a special pull: Brooklyn College.
After the elder Peter Alborano's stint in the minors in the 1950s, Alborano's father went on to be a New York City firefighter and then a physical education teacher. Around 1980, Alborano's career came full circle as he took an assistant baseball coach job at Brooklyn College.
By the time the younger Alborano graduated high school, the father was Brooklyn's head coach. Alborano chose Brooklyn.
"My dad knew me best," Alborano said of going to Brooklyn, "and I think my dad was the best person to evaluate my ability and not only that, give me a chance to get some at bats as a freshman, which is very important at the college level."
That's not to say his dad was easy on Alborano. On the contrary, he recalled his father being the opposite.
He recalled his father, 81 years old in 2015, as always learning and constantly adjusting his approach to new ideas. Alborano's sister was big in track and field and won a scholarship to Northwestern. Alborano recalled his father studying her team's training methods and incorporating those into his baseball team's training.
Among those methods: Runs down Coney Island Avenue.
"We did some crazy things, but I look back on it now and I think all of it helped me," Alborano said.
|Pete Alborano attending a tryout for the Mets at Shea Stadium in 1984. (Photo Provided)|
Soon, Alborano started thinking a pro career might just be a possibility. At least one major league organization wanted a closer look.
In July 1984, the Mets invited Alborano to a group tryout at Shea Stadium. Alborano still has the letter of invitation.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Alborano recalled always being a Mets fan. He'd played at Yankee Stadium in high school as his Abraham Lincoln team played for and won the city title. But Shea Stadium was different. He recalled setting foot in Shea for that tryout as "the feeling of a lifetime."
The Mets put Alborano and his fellow players to the test, putting them through running and throwing drills and even a simulated game.
In one throwing drill, Alborano recalled the coaches having the players throw to third base from far right field, near the foul line, a show of arm strength.
"That was a tough throw," Alborano recalled. "I remember my ball bounced many times."
With the Mets seemingly interested enough to take a look, Alborano returned to Brooklyn College for his junior year hoping to build on his success. Instead, he slid into third early in the year suffered a setback that put in doubt any kind of pro baseball career. He broke his leg. (Go to Part 2)
Part 1: Constant Hustle | Part 2: Couldn't Wait
Part 3: League Leader | Part 4: Different Role
Go to Part 2: Pete Alborano, Couldn't Wait