Tournaments : : Story
Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cangelosi an eager presence at PG Kernels Foundation Tourney

Jeff Dahn        
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – When John Cangelosi decided to say goodbye to professional baseball in the early 2000s, he made the decision to move onto something completely different.

It didn’t quite work out.

“When I was done playing, I coached for a little bit, and when I was done coaching, I tried working for a living,” Cangelosi said with a chuckle Saturday morning while waiting out a weather-related delay at the Perfect Game Kernels Foundation Tournament.

“No disrespect to the working field, but in my early 40s I really never had worked. All I ever knew was baseball.”

So Cangelosi, 47, entered the world of youth baseball, working with youngsters through the then-newly established Cangelosi Baseball organization, headquartered in Lockport, Ill.

“I gravitated back to what I know and what I loved and opened up a small school … and just started getting more kids involved,” he said Saturday.

Cangelosi Baseball operates in conjunction with the Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports facility. It is an 88,000 square-foot facility under one roof with two Major League infields, a multi-purpose field, a sprint track and 12 batting cages with regulation pitching mounds.

Cangelosi Baseball brought three teams to the PG Kernels Foundation Tournament. The winner receives an automatic paid berth to the PG WWBA World Championship Oct. 21-25 in Jupiter, Fla.

Its teams at the Kernels tournament were formed based on the players’ performances in the Cangelosi Baseball fall leagues, and Cangelosi decided to stay close to The Bombers this weekend, the youngest of the three teams he brought to Cedar Rapids.

The elite teams – Cangelosi Black and Cangelosi Silver – are headed by Cangelosi’s business partner, Billy Cobb.

This is the eighth year the program has fielded travel teams.

“Normally our guys who are signed (to college scholarships), our juniors and seniors that are signed, kind of stay a little bit more local,” Cangelosi said. “Then we have some juniors and seniors who are Division I draftables that are here, and this team here (The Bombers) is juniors and seniors and a couple of sophomores that are playing up.

“We develop our kids and our teams together and that’s how they’re here.”

Among the members of The Bombers is his son, second baseman Austin Cangelosi (2013, Orland Park, Ill.).

Members of the elite Black team include left-handed pitcher Jeff Boehm (2011, Lansing, Ill.), who has already committed to Kentucky, and right-hander Mason Snyder (2011, Ottawa, Ill.), a Louisville signee.

“My whole thing is, I really like coaching,” Cangelosi said. “I don’t know where it’s going to go, but we just want kids who like playing baseball at any level – recreational to college, kids that just want to play high school baseball and obviously the elite division.

“Our whole thing is coaching them, making them respect the game, apply themselves and hopefully we can get these kids a scholarship and let them play baseball as long as they can.”

Cangelosi was a fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox out of Miami Dade Community College, and in his rookie Major League season with the Sox in 1986 he stole 50 bases, an American League rookie record at the time.

During his 13-year MLB career, he played for the Sox, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Texas Rangers, the New York Mets, the Houston Astros, the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies.

He was a career .250 hitter in 1,038 Major League games, and earned a World Series ring with the 1997 Marlins.

Upon retiring officially from playing in 1999 he joined the Chicago Cubs organization as a base-running and outfield instructor.

Cangelosi then hooked-up with Cobb and they started a fall league in suburban Chicago. He also hooked-up with another business partner, Jim Thompson, and they talked about opening up a year-around training facility. That led to a partnership with Bo Jackson and his Elite Sports Dome in Lockport.

Cangelosi and Jackson are still partners in the Bo Jackson Dome and they’re looking at opening up a couple more similar facilities around the country.

“Anytime you can get some kids some exposure and get them acclimated to playing against better talent, it’s always better for the kids,” Cangelosi said. “We let them see what it’s like traveling a little bit, playing against better teams, and getting the players in front of a venue where there are college coaches watching in the stands and just kind of getting them acclimated to that kind of environment.”
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