RELIEF (COMIC AND OTHERWISE)
As we become more familiar with the 2010 PawSox, one thing is apparent. It is a really good group of guys. Whether they win the Governors’ Cup, or finish in last place, (hope it’s the former) there are some “top shelf” characters on this club. One gentleman that I’m enjoying getting to know is reliever, Chad Paronto. Paronto, a resident of Pittsfield Mass. and a graduate of Woodsville High School in New Hampshire, is a long time Red Sox fan, and is very pleased to be in the organization. “It’s great. It’s easily one of the best organizations I’ve played for. Even though I’m here in Pawtucket, I can’t stop thinking about the possibility of playing for Boston. Ever since I was a kid, hearing ‘now batting for Boston…’ I really hope to have the opportunity of putting on the uniform at Fenway.
An All-State performer in baseball and basketball, the 6’5, 250 pounder has pitched in the Majors for Baltimore, Cleveland, Atlanta and Houston. Before that, he starred at the University of Massachusetts, leading the Minutemen to the regionals in 1995 and ’96. That coincided with the John Calipari era in Amherst. Coach Cal lead the Minutemen to the final four in New Jersey in 1996. Unfortunately that spot had to be vacated, due to NCAA violations. Paronto remembers his college days fondly- “It was an absolute zoo, obviously. As far as baseball went, I was fortunate enough to play with some great, great players. We had some great teams and in 1996, we fell one game shy of going to Omaha (for the College World Series). It would have been a great story. The basketball was insane. Marcus Camby was the national college player of the year, it was a great time to be there. The campus was always buzzing, especially around the basketball season.”
Along with fellow veterans, Alan Embree and Joe Nelson, Paronto provides leadership to the PawSox bullpen. “It’s important for us to show the young guys. We always say-‘don’t do anything differently here than you’d do in Boston.’ Preparation and routine are really important over the course of a long season. Sometimes you don’t even realize it but what you’re doing, what you take for granted because you’ve been doing it so long, rubs off on the other younger guys.”
Paronto is blessed with a very good, dry sense of humor. You don’t get too far along in the conversation without learning that. He says if a guy messes up, he renders his own “Kangaroo Court” justice. “I’ll throw their clothes in the trash, tape all their stuff together, freeze their underwear. I hold my own court.” He joked that he’d like to be called “Lady GaGa” by manager Torey Lovullo. The skippers’ response- “He’s really out there, isn’t he?” Paronto and Nelson have chosen some questionable songs for their warmups on the mouind. When you learn why, you understand. They are both fathers of young girls. Don’t expect to hear the Dropkick Murphys or AC/DC for these guys. Nelson enters to the Miley Cyrus hit “Party in the USA”. I will admit, I really like it, too. “Nelly kind of beat me to the punch. We both made promises to our daughters. We’ve both had some pretty serious dance parties with our girls to Miley Cyrus music. I talked to the music guy and I’ve got a special little treat of my own for when I enter a game.” We have learned his entrance tune is “TikTok” by Ke$ha. Also very catchy.
The other day, for the flight to Buffalo, Paronto was the only member of the entourage to wear a necktie. It accompanied a nice sleeveless sweater for a “collegiate” look. He took a pretty good ribbing about his ensemble, and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, he explained it. “Jealousy is a huge part of what people feel towards me. I really am the total package. They get on me about how great and handsome I look. It’s just guys’ jealousy rearing its’ ugly head.”
Chad Paronto does not lack confidence. If he weren’t a baseball player, he’s sure he would be a hit in the entertainment industry,. “When I do sing, it’s good. It’s really good. I listen to a lot of music. I know a lot of lyrics. I wish I had known my school work as well. I’ve always loved to sing and dance. You get so bored in the clubhouse sometimes, it makes guys laugh, it keeps guys loose, so I just keep doing it.” Aware of the age limit imposed by a popular Fox Network TV show , Chad added one final thought . “If I were young enough, I would win American Idol.”
Look out Adam Lambert.