Buffalo Spree: Muckdogs Baseball

6:26 PM, Jun 23, 2012   |    comments
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Now that the summer months are upon us, it's important to get outside and find activities for the whole family.

Buffalo Spree chose the perfect example in this month's issue by highlighting the Batavia Muckdogs. After all, baseball is America's sport.

Meet the Muckdogs Manager, Dann Bilardello- a Florida native. We asked him what mindset his players have when they arrived in Batavia for this season.

"For some it's the first time out of the state, some of them maybe went to college out of state, or some near their hometown," said Bilardello. "So I kind of feel like I've got myself. Roger is my hitting coach, Dernier is my pitching coach, that we're like surrogate parents for these kids, and that's the way I feel."

"Though I'm teaching them about baseball stuff, I want to teach them life lessons because I think it's more important. There's more out there than baseball. I love baseball, I've been involved in it for over 30 years as a player and coach, I absolutely love it, but these kids might not be in baseball for 30 years and I've had a lot of experience in life, so maybe I can teach them something in those ways too."

Dann has played ball all over the country but has a soft spot in his heart for Buffalo. He was once on the roster of the Bisons. Some of his players this season, are experiencing pro ball for the first time. Anthony Melchionda is one of them, we asked him exactly who should come out to catch a game...

"I think anyone would enjoy us playing," says Melchionda. "It's a group of young guys who are just starting their pro careers, it'll be competitive baseball all the way through. it'll be great for the kids, great for families, it'll be a lot of fun.

Meet Anthonys teammate Garrett Wittels - a short stop, who has a bit more experience than some of his fellow players...

"I've kind of been all over with some other organizational teams over the past couple weeks," says Wittels. "I'm kind of viewed as a veteran, I see myself as a vocal guy, kind of a captain or a leader. So like I said I'm just trying to go out there and teach the young guys how to play the game, and just enjoy it. Hopefully we win a lot of games."

Matthew Young is an out-fielder for the Muckdogs- a California native, who was happy to be called out to Batavia New York. We asked him how Pro Ball compares to college ball.

The competition is a lot higher," says Young. "I even notice during practice, during inner-squads, during the expedition rounds we had on friday night, everybody's the best of the best. Nobody's a scrub, everyone's making plays, everyone's doing their job. It's a high level of competition so you've got to step up."

We asked him what his family and friends think of his new career...

"Where I come from nobody really pays attention to baseball. Their still wondering why I'm not in St. Louis. When they ask me what a Muckdog is I tell them I don't know, I guess it's a dog, in some muck. Just by looking at the hat.  It's new for everybody where I'm from."

To learn more about the Batavia Muckdogs or other great activities in your area, pick up this month's edition of Buffalo Spree Magazine.

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