Nearly anybody who knows baseball will tell you it takes a whole team to win.
This may be the reason 12-year-old Frank DiPillo plays down his recent record as homerun champ for the season and promotes his teammates. DiPillo hit nine homers for his team in the Cal Ripken League this year and has since hit six more in post-season play.
“Yes, he has natural talent,” said his mother, Jean. “But he is always working hard to improve, and he gets terrific instruction from his coaches. They have been great with him.”
“Yes, he has natural talent. But he is always working hard to improve.” – Jean DiPillo
“Frankie DiPillo has been probably one of the better hitters the Bayonne Cal Ripken League has ever seen,” he said. “Frankie has the innate ability to wait until the last second to swing, and when he is hitting well, he drives the ball to the opposite field with power.”
This, he said, was not an easy task for anyone, let alone a 12 year old.
“Aside from Frankie’s home run record set this year, I believe he is best suited to hit line drives and for average,” Soscia said. “Last year as an 11-year-old, DiPillo was our three-hitter on the Cal Ripken 12-year-old state championship team. That should say enough. I have seen him drive the ball to the alleys with power against not only Bayonne competition, but we witnessed him put on a home run clinic versus the Bear, Delaware Ripken World Series champions in 2008.”
The Bear team had a host of hard throwing pitchers, all of whom could also throw off speed pitches that usually frustrate young hitters. None of these bothered DiPillo.
“Most importantly, DiPillo has a very strong work ethic, which probably has something to do with his success,” Soscia said.
“The first time I saw Frankie DiPillo step foot on a baseball field was two years ago when he was joining our league and had to attend our yearly tryouts,” said Michael Miselis, vice president of the Cal Ripken League. “When I saw him, I instantly saw a kid who had all the tools – arm, speed and bat. When I saw him actually play in a real game the first year in the league, I was even more blown away, as the tryout did not truly show what this kid was all about. The kid has something you can't teach, and that’s baseball sense.”
Miselis said DiPillo has a passion for the sport that even opposing teams admire.
“I have been coaching for 33 years besides being the vice president of the Cal Ripken League, and I can honestly say he ranks right up there in the top three to five players of all time as far as having the full package. In our league for the past 12 years, I would rank him up there with maybe one other hitter (Rob Kochanski), who played in our league in 1999 and who was the league MVP. Besides his obvious physical tools, the part of his game that does not show up in a box score cannot be underestimated. He is a gamer in the full sense of the word and would run through a wall for you. But when off the field, he is one of the most respectful young kids I have seen in a long time.”
DiPillo would like to become a professional baseball player, but he isn’t taking any chances. A student of Bayonne’s gifted and talented program at P.S. No. 14, he has other skills and is very good in mathematics, which could help him become an engineer some day.