Special friendship offers pitcher relief
Baseball: Dawgs lefty recognized for his charitable work
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013 06:00 am
A Dawgs relief pitcher cooked up something pretty special in home economics class back in high school.
Dominic Porretta made a lifelong friendship and a greater appreciation for his natural ability.
“In my senior year of high school I was taking a home economics class and Ryan (Trubee) was in the class as a peer inclusion environment to help with his social skills and things,” Porretta said. “And no one was working with him.”
Porretta went over and introduced himself to the autistic Trubee and they became home ec partners and fast friends at Thomas Worthington High School in Westerville, Ohio in 2009.
The friendship continued when Porretta graduated from Worthington and enrolled in nearly Otterbein University to pitch for the Cardinals.
“Absolutely it did,” Porretta said. “We only lived a few minutes apart and we hang out every week, doing anything typical guy things — we go out to eat, play sports, go to the movies…”
He has become more than Trubee’s friend. He is also a certified caregiver.
“When I developed my relationship with Ryan, his mother asked if I wanted to be a caregiver for Ryan,” Porretta said. “It’s a great gig. I get paid for it. I would do it for free — I’m getting paid to hang out with a friend.”
Ryan’s mother, Kim, called the relationship between Porretta and her 20-year-old son “something that God had a hand in.”
“I feel he (Porretta) is a part of our family now,” Kim said from her Ohio home. “Dominic shares a lot about baseball, the college life with Ryan. We feel like we have made a great friend and even beyond that… his mom made a comment that Dominic would really want Ryan in his wedding party if he ever got married.”
Porretta made sure Ryan got to do the typical things high school students did, including going to his homecoming dance.
“Ryan had never gone to a high school dance and we had been discussing it,” Kim said. “Dominic offered to bring a girl that was a friend of his and make it a double date with Ryan and a girl he had feelings for.
“It was awesome.”
Ryan’s date, a girl in his special needs class, had also never had a date before. Porretta made a point of meeting her parents.
Soon it wasn’t just Porretta hanging with Ryan. The left-handed pitcher started bringing his pals.
“Dominic didn’t just limit this to himself — he started getting his friends involved,” Kim said with a laugh. “Ryan is pretty good at football trivia. One of his friends picked up on that and he throws out questions at Ryan… Dominic was very open to have his friends involved.”
Porretta also became involved with the Miracle League of Central Ohio, a baseball league for special needs children and adults.
“It provides an environment which is handicap accessible — the field is this soft rubber that they use on playgrounds and wheelchairs can go on it,” Porretta said.
He has been recognized for his charitable endeavours.
Porretta has received the Otterbein Cardinal Leadership Award for Athletics and also the Otterbein Professional Development Award. He has been selected as one of 15 finalists for the TD Ameritrade Fan’s Choice Award. The award is given to the collegiate player “who excel beyond the diamond and whose leadership inspires others.”
Porretta graduated summa cum laude with a degree in journalism in the spring. He will attend “The” Ohio State University in the fall for post-graduate school. Trubee will also be at school in Columbus taking life-skill courses for special needs adults.
Porretta can also pitch. He finished 2-3 at Otterbein last spring with four saves. He had 24 strikeouts in 28 innings and led the Cards with 18 pitching appearances.
Porretta’s pitching prowess has already started to help the Dawgs. He was the winning pitcher in the Dawgs’ 6-2 victory over the Lethbridge Bulls on Sunday in Lethbridge. He went 4 1/3 shutout innings with six strikeouts.
Even if he had been rocked by the Bulls his friendship with Ryan and his work in the Miracle League helps put things in perspective.
“That is one of the most rewarding things about working with Ryan and working with those kids,” Porretta said. “Back in the conference tournament in May I gave up a walk-off hit and I was really down and my mom told me at least I’m healthy.
“It’s very humbling and puts things in perspective.”
Dawgs manager AJ Fystro said Porretta’s subtle leadership is already noticeable in the clubhouse.
“He’s definitely a bit of a character — he jokes around,” Fystro said. “His leadership ability is apparent.”