You gotta see what Dom Landolphi is doing
Don Landolphi is facing his biggest challenge as a coach.
At the youthful age of, gulp, 80.
“I’m teaching and coaching baseball to the blind,” he told the Eagle.
And if he has the same success as he had while coaching at Brooklyn College, well – we’ll see.
Maybe, we’ll all see.
Baseball has been part of Don Landolphi’s life for over 50 years as a player and coach, both nationally and internationally.
“It was almost an accident, my getting involved with baseball,” he said. “While attending Brooklyn’s St. Michael’s Diocesan High School, a friend asked me if I’d be trying out for the team.
“I said, ‘what team?’”
Landolphi quickly found his calling – it was baseball.
He made that St. Michael’s team as a freshman and never looked back. He played three years and captained as a senior.
As for St. Mike’s, it was located at Fourth Avenue and 43rd Steet – it was replaced in 1957 by Xaverian High School.
“I remember it well,” said Landolphi. “We were on the top two floors of an elementary school. We only had about 400 students.”
Brooklyn College was the next stop for the kid who lived at Avenue U and West 7th Street, right above the Sea Beach subway line.
“We were two stops from Coney Island,” he remembered.
He captained the Kingsmen of Brooklyn College as a senior, and after graduation he made Brooklyn College his home.
From 1964 through 1975 he coached baseball at the college. Then, he took a six-month sabbatical in 1975.
He turned that baseball program around with seven consecutive winning seasons.
Did we mention he also was a member of the Physical Education and Exercise Science Department and was a full professor as well as Assistant Athletic Director?
He also found time to coach the jayvee basketball team for three seasons.
In fact, he is the only winning coach in two sports at Brooklyn College.
His record? “We don’t have any archived statistics from baseball,” was the response after an e-mail request.
He took his winning touch to the United States Merchant Marine Academy where he coached in 1979; and later served as assistant to Joe Russo, the baseball coach at St. John’s University – and retired in 1995.
Or did he?
It was in 1973 that Don Landolphi achieved international fame.
“I was one of 10 American coaches asked to coach the Italian National Team,” he said.
And since that “retirement.” he’s coached baseball in Italy and has been an ambassador for USA Baseball as well as Major League Baseball International. He has conducted clinics in Japan, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.
In 2006, while coaching in Florence, Italy he noticed some youngsters walking on the field, and remembered asking, “Who’s on my field?”
It was a group of blind youngsters playing the game of baseball. “That’s when it hit me,” he said, “we’ve got to get this kind of program started here in the states.”
Fast forward 13 years later, with the Mole Cup.
The Mole Cup—baseball for the blind – was invented by Franz Fisher, a former coach from the Bavarian Bats in Germany in 2010. It is an international invitational tournament open to any European or Worldwide team.
Don Landolphi coached in the 9th edition of the Mole Cup – 2019 played in Rome.
“We played against England, Germany, France, and Cuba,” he said. His team from Italy beat Cuba for the championship.
The games are five innings long, or an hour and a half, Landolphi explained. Each team is made up of five blind players, one sighted player and one sighted defensive assistant.
“The ball,” he said, “has chimes.”
The sighted defensive player and sighted assistant also serve as base coaches at second and third base when the team comes to bat.
“The batter puts the ball in play by tossing it up in the air,” Landolphi said, “and hitting it.”
In order for the batted ball to be ruled fair, or in-play, it must go beyond the string which starts at the left corner of the defensive second base and extends to the third base foul line behind third base.
“Our shortstop had an amazing 15 put-outs and 14 assists,” Landolphi said.
Don Landolphi is co-author of two baseball books, “Championship Baseball-Techniques Fundamentals and Drills” and “The Fundamentals of Coaching and Playing Baseball.”
In 1990 he was inducted in the Brooklyn College Hall of Fame and is also a member of the American Baseball Coaches Hall.
Anyone could see Don Landolphi’s career had a Hall of Fame stamp.
Today, Don Landolphi is helping the blind see that, too.
Andy Furman is a Fox Sports national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR
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