Angelo Dominic "Archi" Cianfrocco is a happy man.

September 26, 1998 is when Cianfrocco played his last MLB game.  He was with the National League pennant-winning San Diego Padres that season. When the Padres met the New York Yankees in World Series play the following month, Cianfrocco was left off the post-season roster by manager Bruce Bochy.

No regrets by the Rome, New York native. None. Zip.

 Seven big league seasons behind him with the Montreal Expos and Padres, like everyday citizens, life for Cianfrocco moved on.

There are highlights to look back on.

Back during the 1997 season, the Padres played the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 51st annual Baseball Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, New York.  With the only eight miles separating Rome from the Oneida County Airport where the Padres would be flying into, then busing 59 miles to Doubleday Field, one street up from the Hall of Fame, the homecoming was everything Cianfrocco could had imagined.

The utility player from Rome played five different positions in the game.  Second base, first base, right field, shortstop, and catcher.  With hundreds of supporters from throughout the Mohawk Valley in attendance, on that early August day, Cianfrocco gave the locals an extra reason to cheer.

He won the pre-game home run derby.

Baseball was the former RFA athlete's life. First, at Onondaga County Community College, then Perdue University in Indiana.  Followed by the Expos picking him in the fifth-round of the 1987 MLB draft, Cianrocco was on his was to the "Show".

Fast forward to 2021, and baseball, with most everything in societies globally teetering on cancellation or on-hold, Cianfrocco still has baseball on his mind - as a fan.

The game and all the joy it brings to millions of fans has never left him.

26 Feb 2000: Infielder Archi Cianfrocco, a Rome, NY native, #72 of the Anaheim Angels poses for a studio portrait during Spring Training Photo Day in Tempe, Arizona. Getty Images

Now, at 54, Cianfrocco and his wife Maria are grandparents.  They are empty nesters. With their youngest daughter away at college, the Cianfrocco's time is their own.

It's late afternoon on the west coast, and Cianfrocco is taking a hike - literally. Clad in shorts and a t-shirt, the former big leaguer sounds relaxed, and eager to talk of old times back east.

One of his earliest signs that a future in pro baseball was in his cards involves basketball.

"Bob Manfred was my travel basketball coach," Cianfrocco explains.  "We went everywhere - Montreal, New York City, all around." 

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, a native of Rome, NY, looks on during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Bob Manfred's son Rob would become the 10th MLB Commissioner in January 2015. The two Romans have crossed paths numerous times over each others years in the game, pre and post Manfred's selection as commissioner.

"We exchange emails every now and then, and we've met at different functions.  When the MLB All-Star Game was held here (San Diego) in 2016, I went up to his (Manfred) box, and hung out with him."

Another interesting connection between Cianfrocco and Manfred came during their careers. When Cianfrocco was a union rep, and Manfred was serving as an outside counsel for MLB owners during collective bargaining with the players association, their signatures would cross.

"I remember going over documents, and seeing his name signed," remembers Cianfrocco.

Like so many people who continue to have their lives and careers disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cianfrocco is making the best of this miserable period.

"I work from home. I've worked from home since my baseball career was over," says Cianfrocco. "I used to travel a lot. Not anymore."

Cianfrocco  paints a picture that things aren't that bad where he's at in San Diego, as compared to the rest of California.

"We're kind of in a "little bubble" here.  North to Los Angeles, it's bad. South towards the border (Mexico) is bad, too."

Living five miles from the Pacific Ocean, in the northwest side of San Diego, for now, Cianfrocco works at keeping a normal life.  With San Diego having an average daily high temperature of 65 degrees in January, the weather has played a major reason for him remaining in the city since he last took to the field for the Padres.

As strange of a season 2020 turned out to be for the MLB on a whole, Cianfrocco kept a close eye on the Padres.

"Last season, I thought baseball blew it when they left spring training.  I thought the players there were isolated in a "bubble" at the time.  When they sent everybody home, I wondered how will you pull the guys back from their environment during a pandemic? Well, I'm glad they did."

Finishing six games behind their western division rivals (and eventual World Series winners) Los Angeles Dodgers, Cianfrocco labels 2020 as a great year for his hometown Padres.

"If they had played 162 games, I don't know if they make it to the playoffs," offers Cianfrocco of the Padres 2020 season.  " I didn't think they had the pitching to go far enough."

Not only Cianfrocco, but a growing number of baseball fans like what they see for the coming season, as off-season player moves made by San Diego seemingly had closed the gap between the Padres and Dodgers.

Acquiring via trades pitchers Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, along with signing another arm last August (involving a nine-player trade) Mike Clevinger coming from the Cleveland Indians, Padres' fans are excited.  Toss in Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis,Jr., Eric Hosmer, and Tommy Pham, these moves give ample ammunition to the belief that the Padres are knocking on the Dodgers' door.

"Right now, Machado and Tatis, by far, are the best left side in baseball.  People here are super excited.  The Padres are the talk of the town.  The prospects that the team stockpiled, and went through pretty quick, has gotten what they need," said Cianfrocco.

Whether the Padres win, at all cost, over the next three, four, or five seasons, it's clear there is commitment from ownership to get to the next level.  One of the team's biggest boosters, a man who first loved the game as a child in Rome watching Yankees' old-timers games, and wore the uniform, is at the head of the cheering line.

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Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley.  He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com. 

 

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