North Xtra: Former Point Park baseball standout gets call for Hall

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Dennis Colamarino almost missed the call about his induction into Point Park University's Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame.

"I was at a work meeting, and my wife showed up with my baby," said Colamarino, a former Pioneers baseball standout. "I told her to answer the phone because I didn't recognize the number. There was a pause, and she said, this is about the Hall of Fame."

Colamarino will join basketball and softball double threat Beth Wertz-Brubach and basketball star Gavin Prosser in the school's 2014 Hall of Fame class.

"It was a little emotional," Colamarino said of the honor. "I had some tears in my eye. I was extremely happy when I was told I was in."

A native of Garfield who grew up in Shaler, Colamarino started three years at second base for Point Park, from 1987-89. During that time, he played in three NAIA World Series, led the Pioneers to a 128-26 record and became the only player in university history to rank in the top 10 of every offensive category.

Colamarino said playing college sports helped prepare him for life after school in one very important way.

"By being a college athlete, you have to work for the team," he said. "The team becomes your family. When you get out of there, they're still your family. When you play on a team, you have that sense of awareness of everything around you because you don't have a choice."

Colamarino currently lives in Cranberry Township with his wife, Jennifer, and 16-month-old son Santino. He has been in the sales industry for more than 20 years, working for both pharmaceutical and technology companies.

Before becoming a successful college athlete, Colamarino went to Shaler Area High School and played for legendary WPIAL coach Jerry Matulevic.

"Without Jerry I'm not where I am today," he said. "I'll always go back and say, 'I remember when Coach M. told me this and that.' Playing for him was like playing for a college team."

After high school, Colamarino spent a year at Kent State University before transferring to Point Park to play under coach Mark Jackson. He said Jackson did not offer him any scholarship money, but gave him the opportunity to walk on to the team.

"I bided my time and did what I had to," Colamarino said. "After a while he had to keep me in the lineup because I was hitting the ball so hard."

Playing under Jackson was a much different experience for Colamarino than playing for Matulevic.

"M. was more of a rah-rah guy," he said. "Jackson was more of a, 'You be the rah-rah, I'm not going to be the one to set the fire under you.' You had to be self-motivated and disciplined. He was more analytical, by the numbers. It was another experience that turned out great."

Jackson said that Colamarino's contributions to Point Park baseball extended far beyond his impressive statistics, which include a .388 batting average, 14 home runs and 155 RBIs in 151 games as a Pioneer.

"Dennis set the tone for the teams he played for," Jackson said. "His attitude and relentless pursuit of winning were contagious. He was a big reason for the success of the program during those years. He represented the heart and soul of the program."

Of course, Colamarino was able to back up his leadership with a big bat. He vividly recalled hitting a grand slam over the left-center field wall to break an 8-8 tie against Slippery Rock that earned the team its 37th win in a row during his first year at Point Park.

Moments like this were part of the total package that earned him a spot in the Pioneers' Hall of Fame.

"There's a saying that I always use," he said. "'Champions are made when no one's watching.' You can't sit here now and get caught up with everything in the world. To be great you have to be good, a lot, for a long time."

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