Rosario Missiti was contemplating his life without baseball. It was a concept he couldn’t comprehend.
“I can’t really do that,” said Rosario, who’s nickname is ‘Rosie.’ “I have no idea what my life would be without baseball. I know my life wouldn’t be the same, or as good, without it. No way.”
The fact that Rosario loves the game, as is evidenced by another week of about 10 games with two different teams, including Newburyport Legion’s tilt today in the state legion tournament in Sudbury, is one thing.
More important, the fact that his family, particularly his relationship with his mother, Jessica Marrocco, and father, Augustine “Auggie” Missiti, might have baseball to thank for it is another.
“I honestly believe that, because of baseball, my relationship with both of my parents is better,” said Rosario. “They know how much the sport means to me. And because of it, they’ve always been there, at almost every one of my games, supporting me.”
Jessica and Auggie were teenage sweethearts in Belmont when Rosario was born. They tried to make a go of it, but by the time Rosario was 3 years old they went their separate ways.
“It just wasn’t working out,” said Jessica. “It was best we weren’t together.”
Despite their differences, and some tough times, they had a common bond: Rosario would be at the center of their universes.
When Jessica eventually moved to North Andover when Rosario was in third grade, a place they remained until he was a junior at St. John’s Prep when he moved to Newburyport with his mom, it gave them a community they could call home.
“North Andover will always be home to me,” said Missiti, who is headed to UMass Amherst in the fall to play baseball. “Playing sports like baseball helped me find friends right away. I wouldn’t be the person I am without living in North Andover.”
While Rosario played other sports growing up, including football and basketball, baseball was always No. 1.
“I can’t explain it, but I am most comfortable when I’m playing baseball,” said Rosario. “I think it fits my personality. I like to think a lot. And baseball is all about thinking, whether it’s guessing which pitch is coming next or where I am going to go with the ball if it’s hit to me. I love it. I really love it.”
And he believes that baseball, may have in a strange way been the glue that has kept him so close to him mother and father.
“They’ve always understood how important baseball is to me,” said Rosario. “They’ve always supported me, driving me to games and always being there. I never really thoughts about it, but baseball has connected us.
“I’ve always lived with my mom,” said Rosario. “She’s the one who raised me. She had it tough, but never showed weakness. And my dad has always been there for me. If I ever needed or wanted anything, he was there.”
In fact, a few players have seen so much of Rosario’s parents over the years that they thought they were married.
“One played called me, ‘Mrs. Missiti,’ and I didn’t correct him,” said Jessica. “It’s not important. What is important is people see us there showing support for Rosario. I’m so proud of him and what he’s accomplished in everything he has done. He’s always been a very good kid, which is more important.”
As far as watching their son play, Jessica and Auggie are pretty lucky. He’s been one of the best hitters, almost since Little League, on every team he has played on.
This past spring, it appeared he was going to be a role player on the top-ranked St. John’s Prep varsity. But an injury before the opener gave Rosario an opening. He had two hits that first game and never stopped hitting, eventually winning the Catholic Conference batting title (.444).
And it has continued on Newburyport Legion, where he is the starting second baseman and batting second. In their clinching win over Lawrence a few days ago he had four hits.
It’s no coincidence that he has been offered a spot on the UMass Amherst baseball team.
“What a great work ethic he has,” said Newburyport Legion coach Tim Southall. “He’s always working, whether it’s hitting in cage, hitting off a tee ... He’s always doing something. He’s fun kid to be around. He always got that grin on his face. He loves baseball.”
Rosario’s father said there was no better example of his son’s passion for the sport than last week.
“He played a game in Quincy in the morning for his AAU team (The Show 18U) and then had to go to Rowley to play for Newburyport Legion in the afternoon to play Haverhill in the third of that series, which ended up going 12 innings.
“On the way home, he cousin in Belmont calls him and asks if he can play in a double-header at night on an adult town league team,” said Auggie. “Rosie wanted to play, but I said, ‘Rosie, you’ re going to get hurt. You just played 17 innings.’ Then he said he might play the second game. But I convinced him he needed to rest. That’s Rosie. He’ll play baseball all night if you’ll let him.”
This past year, Rosario decided to spend more time with his father in Belmont, driving to and from school. The drive apparently was worth it.
“My dad and I were always close, but over the past year we’ve become even closer,” said Rosario. “It used to be just weekends when I grew up. Now we spend a lot of time and talk a lot. It’s been one of the great experiences for me, getting closer to my dad.”
One memorable “family” day for Rosario and his parents was at Senior Day at St. John’s Prep, when both Jessica and Auggie walked out to the pitcher’s mound with Rosario, posing for pictures, like everyone else.
It looked like one happy family. And, in a way, it was and still is.
“I know it’s not what most people would think of as normal,” said Rosario. “But for me, it was normal. It wasn’t perfect. But I have two parents who love me and will do anything for me. And I feel the same way about them ... I’m very lucky.”
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.
Newburyport Legion state tournament schedule
Newburyport Legion plays Taunton Post 103 today at noon in Sudbury in the eight-team double-elimination tournament.
If Newburport wins, it plays the winner of Westwood-Sudbury. If it loses it plays the loser of the same game. The second game will be played Sunday in Sudbury with the time to be determined.