18 August, 2004

Commodores' Antonelli Happy with his Choices

By Silene Gordon

     He has a knack for picking things up quickly. So when Matt Antonelli started learning to play the guitar last winter, he didn't expect it to be so difficult. "It's a work in progress," he says about his musical development. But if the guitar becomes anything like the other "hobbies" the Falmouth Commodore has pursued, it may not be long before he's taking his show on the road. 

Massachusetts native Matt Antonelli was a jack of all sports in high school, and of all infield positions for the Falmouth Commodores in the recently-concluded Cape Cod Baseball League season.

Staff photo by Merrily Lunsford / 2004

     That's because when Antonelli has played something, he's usually been better than average. And in the case of football, ice hockey and baseball, upper echelon is more like it. 

     Drafted out of high school in the 19th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Antonelli was a three-sport star at St. John's Prep in Danvers. The Massachusetts Player of the Year in football and hockey his senior year, Antonelli was all-scholastic in each sport and finished his high school career with 12 varsity letters. 

     Yet the Peabody native's ability to make the physical look natural hasn't affected his down-to-earth demeanor. With a wide boyish grin, the 19-year-old Wake Forest sophomore takes his blessings in stride and stays focused about the prospects of becoming a professional athlete. 

     "My parents have really helped me make a lot of important decisions," says Antonelli, son of Jack and Christine Antonelli and older brother to sister, Caroline. "There were a lot of possibilities along the way and they were very supportive of my choices." 

     Consider, as a new high school graduate, weighing the choice of signing a major league baseball contract or making the important step to college. Antonelli chose to pursue his degree, he says, "because I knew it was important to have schooling. There would be another chance to get drafted again." 

     The infielder, who can play virtually any position on the diamond, chose to attend Wake Forest. "It took a while to choose," he admits, "but in the end, Wake Forest seemed like the best fit. The academics are good and so is the baseball. It's a smaller school, too, and in certain ways it felt similar to the way things were in high school but on the college level." 

     By the time the big decisions started challenging him, Antonelli was fairly seasoned at determining pros and cons. As a sophomore in high school, he says, he knew he would have to start leaning to one sport in particular if he hoped to go farther than the collegiate scale. Baseball was the winner, but not without some soul-searching first. 

     "It started to become clear to me that baseball was where I would have the most opportunities," he explains. "It really was my favorite sport and I started spending most of my time during the off-season working on baseball. But last year I really missed football and hockey a lot. It was the first time I wasn't able to play." 

     Antonelli may have missed the gridiron and the ice, but he didn't show any of that sadness on the diamond. A player coaches call "a rising star," Antonelli has embedded himself at third-base for the Demons. 

     A successful spring season at Wake Forest led to another good choice, one that brought him to the Cape Cod Baseball League as a Falmouth Commodore. Quick-footed and wielding a sharp glove, Antonelli earned all-star honors for the West Division. The soon-to-be sophomore finished the season hitting .280, as well as ranking third in the league in on-base percentage (.413) and in total runs scored (26). 

     Coming to the Cape, Antonelli says, has not only taught him more about baseball but should further his stock in the baseball world. "It was an awesome summer," he says. "Playing every day and playing against these guys, the whole experience has made me a better player. It will definitely help me at school, and then hopefully beyond that, too." 




By Don Sherlock