A junior on the Plattsburgh State baseball team, T.J. Montalbano, is tantamount to that of a chameleon on the diamond as he is able to adapt quickly to his environment, whether it be at second base, shortstop or center field.
When players break into their positions for practice drills, Montalbano finds himself running all over the place, getting his work in at each position. His ability to play every position defines him as a utility player, and he is ready to play wherever the team needs him. In fact, there have been some cases where he has found himself on the hill as a pitcher.
“He’s a vital part of this team,” head coach Kris Doorey said. “It’s a nice feeling to be comfortable putting him in any position that I feel I need him in.”
Although Montalbano is able to play at such a variety of positions, he does have a personal preference to center-field. He enjoys the diving drills that he takes part in for that position. It’s the adrenaline of diving for the ball that drives him to center.
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Montalbano’s love of the game stems from his early years of playing baseball. His father, who was also an avid ball player, passed down his passion for the sport to his son. Montalbano’s childhood memories are filled with him and his father traveling around the county playing in various tournaments, however, one memory in particular stuck out to Montalbano.
“I was twelve years old, and my travel team had just won the championship,” Montalbano said. “He stormed the field with the team and held me up on the field. That was the number one moment playing baseball for me. It was with my father.”
Montalbano has come a long way from those early years spent on the diamond with his dad. He slowly progressed to the varsity level of play for his high school, Half Hollow Hills West, in Long Island, where he earned All-League honors his senior year.
His rigorous work ethic is a big part of why Montalbano has become the successs that he is on the team. Both his coaches and teammates are fully aware of the focus and hard work Montalbano puts into his craft each and every day at practice.
“He’s always working to get better,” senior pitcher Scott Orr said. “It’s pretty crazy considering that we all have one position to worry about, and he’s getting better at three positions each day.”
When he isn’t on the field, Montalbano enjoys spending his time snowboarding or hitting the books preparing to complete a criminal justice major. He said he tries to make it to Whiteface Mountain as often as he can during the winter season as he purchases the season pass to fulfill his snowboarding needs.
However, Montalbano’s career in baseball will be coming to an end next spring, and he is preparing for the next stage in his life as he just scored well on the Suffolk County Police test.
After graduating from Plattsburgh State, Montalbano plans to wait for his name to be called on the testing list and then he will pursue his lifetime dream of becoming a Suffolk County Police officer, patrolling his childhood neighborhood.
Email Kevin Morley at firstname.lastname@example.org