Chris Colabello wasn't drafted out of Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., which isn't necessarily surprising since nobody from Assumption had ever played in the major leagues. No major league team signed him as a free agent to give him a chance in the minors. So he stayed in Worcester and played for the Worcester Tornadoes of the independent Can-Am League. That was in 2005. Oil Can Boyd played in the league that year. He was 45 years old.
Colabello remained in the Can-Am League for six more seasons, never quitting the game, always keeping alive his dream that he could play at a higher level.
Parker Hageman of Twins Daily has the story of Colabello's improbable rise to reaching the major leagues last season at the age of 29 -- a journey that nearly ended this past offseason when the Twins wanted to sell him to a Korean team after Colabello hit .194 in 55 games for Minnesota:
For seven years, Colabello toiled in the Cam-Am League, bouncing between Worcester and Nashua. Toiled might be putting it lightly. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked that the slugger came from the beer leagues, and he’s not far off. Nashua, the team Colabello played for 43 games in 2007, had Olympic skier, Bode Miller, play one home game each year from 2006 to 2008. While Miller had six at-bats and five strikeouts, the New Hampshire native and baseball sideshow failed to generate interest. The team was eventually evicted from their stadium in 2009 for failing to pay rent.
Meanwhile, Worcester, whose nickname came from a tornado which ravaged the community in the early 1950s and the team Colabello had played with for his 540 other games in the league, folded for unceremonious reasons similar to the Nashua team. In 2012, the season after the Twins plucked (or was it saved?) Colabello from the Massachusetts town team, the Worcester Tornadoes had their charter revoked for being unable to pay for uniform cleaning.
From those humble beginnings, Colabello reached the majors. He remained on the Twins' roster over the winter and made the club out of spring training. While he struggled last season, Colabello's big first week earned him American League player of the week honors along with Josh Hamilton and he enters Tuesday hitting .370 with one home run and 11 RBIs in seven games.
Is he for real? He did hit .352/.427/.639 for Triple-A Rochester last year. Maybe there's still an ending yet to be told in his story.