Sometime ago, Thompson Mug Company sat down with Sal Lombardo, the founder of (arguably) the best youth baseball organization in the country - the Orlando Scorpions. "Coach Sal" Lombardo has seen and worked with many talented players through the Scorpions Organization in Central Florida...talents such as: Zach Greinke, Chris Sale, and Cody Allen. Since founding the organization in 1994, he has had over 3,000 amateur athletes come through the Scorpions organization and many have earned college scholarships, and/or opportunities at professional baseball.
In addition to founding the Orlando Scorpions, Lombardo Co-Founded the Florida Collegiate Summer League (FCSL) in 2003. The FCSL is considered a premier Summer Collegiate Baseball League which is partially funded by Major League Baseball. College baseball players from around the country gather during the summer months to compete in a 46 game schedule amongst 6 teams within the league. Since the first game in 2004, nearly 400 players have gone on to play professional baseball from the FCSL.
From a surface view, we see Sal Lombardo's accomplishments in the game of baseball, thus far. He has certainly created something that is "larger than himself." However, what is unclear...is where his passion for the game of baseball began and what the game has taught him...
Please, join Thompson Mug Company, creators of the Dugout Mug™ - the baseball bat mug - as we dig for a better understanding at where Sal Lombardo's love for the game of baseball began, what the game has personally taught him, and the advice he would give to a kid wanting to play baseball at the next level.
It was at a Rec Baseball Field that surrounded his childhood home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that Lombardo found his love and passion for the game of baseball. He told his story of his first memory:
"My first memory in organized baseball was in fact experienced right next door in a recreational league. I was 7 years old. I especially remember the feeling when several coaches gathered around and watched the “little kid” with the great arm pitch for the first time in what was a side bullpen!"
At a glance, this struck Thompson Mug Company as an ordinary story of a first memory in baseball; however, Lombardo quickly dissected and explained it otherwise. His first memory in baseball has transpired into a philosophy that hangs in his facility to this day.
"I have a saying posted in my facility that says: "Passion is Born when a person catches a Glimpse of His Potential!" That was the day (7 years old) that passion for baseball was born in me."
As a person spends enough time in the game of baseball - they typically develop an unmatched understanding of the upside of adversity; in addition, they have a life philosophy that many may perceive as overly optimistic in hard times. When asking Lombardo the greatest lesson that the game of baseball has taught him - he seemed to have a great understanding of adversity and the good it brings:
"Baseball of course is the game that parallels "Life’s Lessons" more than most in my opinion. Our game is built around many failures whether batting, pitching, etc. What it taught me and I hope I convey these same teachings to my students/players is that one should "Embrace the Adversities of this game…for those adversities are your teacher." We learn more from our adversities/failures than we do from our successes! This is the description of real life, after all."
It is undeniable that Sal Lombardo is creating and leaving a deep impact within the game of baseball and its people. It is impossible to calculate the amount of lives he has impacted directly and indirectly through his lessons, understandings, and teachings. When asked what bit of advice he would offer to a kid wanting to play at the next level - he had this to say:
"By all means pursue your dream with a passion that is unparalleled in any other part of your life. Learn and practice the fundamentals because proper fundamentals in this game never grow old…they always serve you well. Once again, understand that failure (“adversities”) are a major part of this game. For example, a batter can fail 7 of 10 at bats and he has attained the level of "good hitter" because he is hitting for a .300 average - a benchmark in our game. And finally, never…never stop learning, because at each new level of competition one aspires to get to ... there is another new hurdle to conquer. The further you go in the game the better the players become and even though there are less of them ...they are all good, in their own right…so adapt your game accordingly."
We will conclude this with a simple, yet a very sincere "thank you" to Coach Sal Lombardo for his selflessness over the years as he has worked behind the scenes in helping thousands of kids pursue their dreams.
Cheers to you, Coach Sal!
- The Thompson Mug Co. Team