Frank DiMichele is watching Tom & Jerry cartoons with his two kids, ages 4 and 5. With a day off from the daily grind of the mortgage business, baseball becomes the hot topic.
DiMichele is a walking encyclopedia of baseball knowledge stemming from his seven-plus seasons with the Angels, Padres and Phillies organizations. This 1983 St. John Neumann grad and former First Team All-Catholic pitcher is ready to return to the diamond. At 43, this left-hander is a little too old for the Major Leagues, so he is giving back to the South Philadelphia community in the form of pitching clinics for parents, coaches and players. If successful, it could lead to a baseball academy in the Philadelphia area.
"I want to see what kind of receptiveness we have down here," DiMichele, originally from Eighth and Tasker streets, said. "I am doing the clinics in South Philly because that’s where my roots are."
The first pitching clinic is 1:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at 16th and Jackson streets. Analysis and discussion of pitching delivery, pitching philosophy for little leaguers and what pitches to throw at what ages are a few of the topics. A second session is Oct. 4 and 5 at McNichol Field, 26th and Moore streets, with separate sessions for ages 8 to 12 and 13 to 17.
DiMichele also plans on stressing the importance of making a year-round commitment to the game.
"You have to love it and I am going to be stressing that you have to work on [mechanics and skills] during the off-season," he said.
DiMichele said waiting until April to pick-up a glove puts players behind the curve.
"There are too many moving parts," the retired pitcher added. "You have to develop your muscle memory."
Showing parents how to refine their child’s skills during the year is another area DiMichele will cover at his September event.
The retired athlete brings all his experiences from the South Philly youth leagues to his one Major League stint in ’88 with the Anaheim Angels. The Pat Lanni League, South Philadelphia Sabres and Neumann provided the strong foundation. The lefty still vividly remembers one game his junior year against St. Joe’s Prep when he struck out seven of the nine batters.
"There was some old, old guy sitting in a beach chair," DiMichele said of the scout. "That’s how I started getting recognition."
He earned First Team All-Catholic recognition a year later.
"I was kind of a late bloomer," DiMichele said.
The pro prospect would continue pitching at La Salle University, but transferred to community college. His Major League dreams would become a reality in ’85 when the Angels selected him in the 15th round of the draft.
"I still think I am the only guy to get drafted out of Philadelphia Community College," he said with a laugh.
Following a few seasons in the minors, DiMichele was promoted to Anaheim’s roster in ’88, making four relief appearances. The remainder of his professional baseball career was spent with Minor League affiliates of San Diego and Philadelphia. By 26, the pitcher elected for early retirement.
"My arm was still in good shape, but mentally I was beat up," DiMichele said. "I was totally not having fun."
From there, it was off to La Salle where he spent four seasons as a baseball coach, including two as head coach.
DiMichele still enjoys watching the game, even taking in a few Neumann-Goretti baseball contests earlier this spring.
"These kids have a good basic understanding of their mechanics," he said of the Neumann-Goretti athletes. "I’ve got to believe they will be fighting for a championship this year and next."
The Phillies, on the other hand, he is not so sure about. The inconsistency of Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer’s 45-year-old body are concerns heading into the September pennant chase.
"I am just a little afraid of their starting pitching," DiMichele said. "I just don’t think they are good enough to win a World Series."
FUTURE STARS BASEBALL CAMP
A baseball camp is taking place at McNichol Field, 26th and Moore streets, Oct. 4 to 5. The sessions are 10 a.m. to noon for ages 8 to 12 and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for ages 13 to 17. The event is run by Neumann-Goretti baseball coach Lou Spadaccini and former Angels pitcher Frank DiMichele. Fee is $80. Call Spadaccini, 267-738-0717.
Former California Angels pitcher and St. John Neumann grad Frank DiMichele will hold a pitching clinic 1:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at 16th and Jackson streets. Topics include analysis of pitching delivery, pitching philosophies and drill sets. Cost is $35. Call 610-209-5024 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.