Covering the Leap of Faith at Baseball Heaven

Salvatore Catanzaro of Woodridge, NJ started playing baseball at age four at the local YMCA in Garfield, NJ. While most kids his age were focused on learning to hit the ball off a tee, Salvatore’s dad Sal was pitching balls to him from the get-go in the backyard or at the local park. “As soon as he was able to stand up and walk, he had a bat in his hand,” shared Sal Catanzaro.

By age six, his early skill in the recreational league caught the eye of a Legit Baseball Club coach. They sought him out to join their competitive team of top players throughout Bergen County – a team of eight and nine year-olds. “He was pitching, and he held his own despite the age difference,” said Sal. Salvatore’s been playing for the Legit Baseball Club travel team ever since, competing in tournaments not only in the northeast, but up and down the east coast. Salvatore will often play 5-6 games most weekends throughout the spring and summer months. “It’s a lot of commitment and sometimes it’s tough, but it’s fun,” shares Sal. 

While many young athletes playing travel baseball tend to focus intensively on the sport year-round to stay competitive, Salvatore builds his confidence and skills with a focus on speed and agility – training four days each week, while playing other sports year round.

But something special happened on a baseball field at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank, NY on Saturday, June 10. Salvatore’s team, Legit Baseball Club 10U, was playing in one of several National Youth Baseball Championship Qualifier games that weekend. It was the third inning of the game, and Salvatore’s team had the lead but the score was close. Salvatore had just stolen third base. His coach at third told Salvatore that if the catcher drops the ball and it goes behind him, “You’re stealing on the pitch.” 

And it happened. Salvatore shared, “I was ready to run, but then I hesitated to go back to the base. And then I was like, ‘you know what, I’m just gonna go.’ I was going and when the catcher got the ball I thought ‘oh no, why am I doing this?’ and I had to think of something fast. I’m too small to run over the catcher, but I knew I could jump over him, so I did.” And after the umpire called “Safe!”… Salvatore shared, “I felt amazing.”

But his dad wasn’t there to see it. “I couldn’t make it to the game because I had to work,” shared Sal. He works for the Post Office so he’s never able to make his son’s games on Saturdays. Shortly after Salvatore scored, a dad of a teammate sent a text message to Sal telling him that his son just jumped over the catcher to score. Sal confessed that he didn’t think much about it, even after Salvatore came home after the game and told him about it. “I just thought, he does crazy stuff like this all the time.”

The next morning, another teammate’s dad used the HiCast Sports mobile app to replay that highlight from the game on-demand. The HiCast Sports Network covers games live and on-demand in partnership with Baseball Heaven and other top ballparks nationwide. The user saved the video highlight from the game, and shared it with Sal via text message so he could watch it.

Sal said, “I didn’t think anyone had video of it. It was just so clear. If I had been there video taping it, it wouldn’t have been the same because the camera angle was so perfect. Having the HiCast Sports Network there… it was just meant to be. When I saw the video and showed it to Salvatore, he said ‘I told you I did that!’ He was very happy that it was actually on a video that he could save and share with his friends.” Salvatore texted the video to his friends and shared it on his Instagram account. What did his friends think? Salvatore replied, “Some of them didn’t even believe it was me!” 

Sal shared the highlight with a friend who shared the highlight on Twitter and within no time, the video went viral – viewed, retweeted, shared, and applauded by millions of fans worldwide throughout social media, fueled by traditional media shares from ESPN, USA Today, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and the Washington Post. The highlight went on to land in the number one spot of Sports Center’s Top Ten Plays of the week. “I was amazed. I felt really proud,” said Salvatore. 

The Washington Post likened Salvatore’s jump over the catcher to a similar move unsuccessfully executed by MLB Pirates player Andrew McCutchen just the week before, but Salvatore hadn’t seen it. Sal shared, “The funny thing is, he didn’t copy anyone. He rarely watches TV because he’s always doing something outside. The timing of it was pure coincidence.”

Sal shared, “There were lots of comments on the video and I’ve read some but the one that really stood out to me was from a guy who said, ‘If this was my son, I’d be so proud of him.’ I’m not sure who wrote it, but it was a really nice comment. It was a special moment. I’m so happy that HiCast Sports has cameras at these fields.”

“We’re all about bringing families together around youth sports and giving our users the power to save and share the moments that matter with the people who matter most. We’re proud to partner with our venues like Baseball Heaven across the country to cover memorable moments like this one by Salvatore.” said Stephanie Calabrese, Chief Brand Officer and Co-founder of the HiCast Sports Network.

Salvatore and his team lost their semi-final game that weekend and didn’t qualify for the National Youth Baseball Championship Finals, but you can find Salvatore in a number 7 jersey pitching or playing center field (or over home plate doing the #salvatoresteal) for the Legit Baseball Club on the HiCast Sports Network at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank NY, Diamond Nation in Flemington, NJ and Sports at the Beach in Georgetown, DE.

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