This past Sunday, I visited Johnston’s Northeast Baseball Facility, which is located at 775 Hartford Avenue. I have been reading about Northeast Reds Baseball for some time now via social media, checking out instructor’s posts, and so I was eager to check out the facility first hand. Northeast’s Jerry Coro messaged me over the weekend, so I made arrangements to meet him and the owner, Gary Salzillo.
I arrived a few minutes early to meet Gary. So, I went through the facility’s check-in process (temperature taken, questionnaire, safety instructions) and was granted access to the indoor baseball area. First impression, clean facility. Second impression, very well lit. As I walked around, I was greeted hello by parents and players alike. I have to say, on a very cold winter day, Northeast Baseball was a very warm and friendly place to be. I walked around the perimeter of the netting/cages, which had been partitioned into 6 sections. There was plenty of signage on the walls regarding the facilities safety procedures, wearing helmets, wearing masks, social distancing, sanitizing stations throughout. After a brief glimpse of the facility, I took a seat and watched Coach Gian Martellini work with a youth baseball player on catching drills. Martellini, a Johnston native and catching standout (2 Time Gatorade Player of the Year at Bishop Hendricken) who graduated from Boston College, played in the Cape Cod League, and has been playing independent baseball for the past year or so as your catching instructor??? Wow, that is impressive.
Gary, with his Northeast Baseball gaiter covering his face, came down the walkway and extended his elbow to say “hello.” After just a few seconds, I was already happy to have met Gary. Friendly, funny, engaging, driven to produce a safe and community driven sports facility that benefitted his baseball community and so much more. Gary talked glowingly about his 8,000 square foot, multi use facility which was used locally by Johnston Football, Men’s and Girls Softball Teams, and the newly formed Northeast Reds Baseball Program. Northeast Baseball is the combination of the Rhode Island Reds, Ocean State Titans, and Providence Prospects organizations. Three powerhouse organizations now under one umbrella – The Northeast Baseball.
After talking with Gary for a few minutes, Coach Alex Fernandez arrived to work with some 10 and 11 year old baseball players. Coach Alex is a former professional baseball player and has a ton of experience coaching players of all levels of baseball. Gary left to attend to some business at the front desk. I sat and watched the staff retracted the netting and then draw it into the ceiling. Other nets were retracted into the sides of the facility to create a nice, wide open space. This allowed for a much larger space to be used for Coach Alex’s practice. Players had the space to run a few windsprints back and forth in the facility and to spread out during stretching time. Coach Alex walked his players through some basic stretching and warmup movements and then players got to work on fielding exercises. Looking around the facility, there were plenty of L-Screens, carts with baseballs/tennis balls, pitching machines, and space for a team to really get a fantastic baseball workout and experience at Northeast.
After watching Coach Alex run his players through some fielding drills, I met up with Gary and his wife Toni Ann in the lobby area. Toni Ann clued me to the fitness center, which was located in a separate room behind where Coach Alex was coaching. I took a quick tour of the gym area, which includes equipment for strength training, cardio, and stretching. Awesome to have a strength and conditioning room to go along with the baseball/softball/football sports specific training all in one facility.
When I returned, I ran into Jerry Coro and we chatted for a bit about baseball. I got to see Jerry’s son Joey play in the Newport Collegiate Baseball League this summer and Jerry and I have been friends on social media for quite some time. Jerry mentioned that Northeast Baseball had the HitTrax program and it was a very popular program there. Toni Ann and Gary talked to me about a recent and very successful HitTrax Tournament, as well as an upcoming HitTrax Tournament. If my memory is correct, Toni Ann said 36 teams competed in their last tournament and they look forward to hosting their next one on Saturday February 13 and 14th. I snapped a photo of a flyer with information about the tournament, which I will also post on my social media pages. If you have any questions, I would recommend contacting Gary or Toni Ann directly about the tournament. And the tournament is entitled “For the love of the game,” very fitting for Valentine’s Day.
On a personal note, I have to say Gary, Toni Ann, Jerry, the staff, the parents, players, and coaches I interacted with made you feel like a family member. They gave me a couple of really nice jerseys, which I will proudly wear around Rhode Island baseball fields!!! (Thanks Gary for giving me the XL ones) Everyone was talking baseball, sharing stories, and like Gary, just glowingly enthusiastic about what was happening at Northeast Baseball. It was like walking into a banquet hall where you knew 200 people and you barely had time to eat because you were having so much fun socializing. Just really, really nice people to be around. It was an awesome Rhode Island Baseball Experience. The Northeast Baseball Facility is clean, well lit, safe, and very accommodating for a one on one catcher’s clinic or a team workout. They have an amazing roster of coaches and instructors for all levels of baseball – from youth to collegiate and amateur level athletes. If you would like to learn more about Northeast Baseball, attend a clinic, or sign up for their upcoming HitTrax tournament, here is how you can connect with them:
Website – Northeast Reds Baseball
Facebook – Northeast Reds Baseball Club
Instagram (great posts and videos) – Northeast Reds Baseball
The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.