As Holy Trinity baseball coach Bob Malandro walked toward his players following yesterday's CHSAA 6-0 victory over St. Mary's, assistant coach Ike Goldstein yelled, "Here he is, Mr. 400."
Applause greeted Malandro as the players encircled him and applauded the milestone victory, recorded at the Titans' home field in Hicksville. "How about 400 more!" a player exclaimed.
Such is the affection Holy Trinity's players have for their 68-year-old coach, who has compiled all of his victories at the same school in a 26-year career. "I'm just so happy for him. It's great to be a part of this," said junior catcher Sean Hogan, who has played for Malandro for three years. "He does so much for Holy Trinity. He's like a father to me. He taught me everything I know about the game. He's a mentor who's been in every situation and knows what course of action to take."
Added senior cleanup hitter and first baseman Mike Micallef, "He's a player's manager. He knows what he's doing."
Hogan doubled in the first run during a three-run third inning and Micallef doubled home the fifth run in a two-run fifth that eliminated any suspense. Dan Vignola contributed two hits and an RBI as the Titans improved to 4-2. St. Mary's is 0-6.
Goldstein presented Malandro with a game-used baseball that had the number 400 written on it in fresh, bold, black ink. Asked what the number signifies, Malandro grinned and said, "It means longevity. I love this little Catholic league. We've got only seven schools but we're as good as any league out there. I call it the black-and-blue league because any team can knock off the other. To get 400 wins in this league is saying something."
Malandro is proud of the winning tradition the Titans have established and also the program's family ties. He said there have been "four or five families who have two or three brothers that have played for me."
One of those families is the Robinsons. Alex, a lefthanded pitcher, starred for the 2012 NSCHSAA championship team and his brother Nick, a righty, started yesterday and threw three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts before reaching the 60-pitch count limit Malandro set for him.
"Of course, you've got to have the kids and I've been fortunate to have so many great ones," Malandro said. "I'm very happy and very proud. I love the kids and I love the competition. It's what keeps me young."