Friday, September 26, 2014

Rooting for the Cubs? Here's the Novel For You

In between the sun setting on the baseball season in October and the sun rising again in late February for spring training, baseball fans across the country speculate about what the next season will bring. This can be a tough time for a Chicago Cubs fan. Actually, in general, being a Cubs fan is not for the faint of heart.
The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. Wrigley Field turns 100 this year and it has never witnessed a World Series victory. For 106 years, Cubs fans across the country have been waiting for the “loveable losers” to win.
If you’re a long-suffering Cubs fan, I have a novel that might help you keep the fire burning. Abner’s Story, by Michael Bellito, is about two teenagers(named as it happens after Bellito’s real-life sons) who interview an older man. The older man turns out to be one of the last people to remember a Cubs World Series victory.

Bellito was inspired to write the book after his uncle passed away a few years ago. His uncle had a story about ditching high school with a friend in 1945 to attend a World Series game at Wrigley Field. While he was there, he purchased a program—now a prized possession of Bellito. As a loyal baseball fan, the author has attended numerous baseball games with his son Matthew. Every playoff game that Bellito has attended resulted in a win!

Abner’s Story is a feel-good story great for all ages and especially for passionate fans of baseball. The lead characters, Matt and Jason, are easy to get behind and root for. Whether you’re a baseball history buff or are barely aware of the consistent struggles at Wrigley Field, the author discusses the long struggle in a way that will bring newcomers along without boring more advanced readers. (One example: I always enjoy when a book can smartly include a reference to Babe Ruth without going off on tangent or distracting from the storyline. Abner’s Story pulls this off nicely.)

If you enjoy Abner’s Story as much as I did, you might enjoy Bellito’s other books, Ten Again and First Time Around.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Like Father, Like Sons: How Arthur D'Angelo's Sons Continue His Sports Merchandising Business

On Sunday June 15th, families gathered around the dinner table to celebrate Father’s Day. But the D’Angelo family in Boston prefers to do something different.  “We work six or seven days per week, especially during the baseball season,” says Bobby D’Angelo, Vice President at ’47 Brand. ’47 Brand is a sports lifestyle brand and is also an official licensing partner of the MLB, NBA, NFL, and many other professional sports organizations.
The company was started by patriarch Arthur D’Angelo who, at the age of 86, still works at the flagship location outside of Fenway Park in Boston. Arthur and his twin brother started selling newspapers for two cents in the early 1940s. As Italian immigrants, the family didn’t speak a single word of English.  But “two cents” was the price of a newspaper and the brothers started to learn how to pronounce the phrase. Arthur quickly learned how to upsell and cross-sell as he started to also sell peanuts, ice cream, and flowers. Eventually, the twins acquired and operated a dry cleaning business. Hall of Famer Ted Williams was a friend of Arthur’s and also a client. Arthur would pick up and deliver the dry cleaning to Williams on a regular basis.
Arthur D'Angelo.
Today, Arthur’s four sons run the family business and have grown annual sales to over $200 million. In 2013, the Red Sox honored Arthur and ’47 Brand: The private road leading up to Fenway Park from Yawkey Way was re-named “Arthur’s Way” in honor of Arthur D’Angelo, and Arthur threw out the first pitch before a ballgame.

April 15th, 2013 is a day that the Boston community will never forget. Bobby was at the ’47 Brand flagship location in Fenway Park when a passerby told him about the Boston Marathon bombing. “At first I didn’t believe it, but I turned on the TV and saw the chaos. Our team immediately wanted to do something to assist the victims. We got approval to sell the Boston Strong shirts and donated the proceeds to The One Fund, a charity formed to assist the victims and family members affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy. On September 21st, 2013, we presented a check for over $1.4 million to the Mayor of Boston to assist the victims.”

The D’Angelo family legacy will likely be painted and sculpted in the years to come. However, “the goal for my children is to have the same respect for me that my father’s kids have for him. We are all trying to be the best husbands and fathers that we can be.”

Thanks to the D’Angelo family.