The theme for the Sugar Land Skeeters this season is “More than Baseball.”
That was never more evident than it was during the week of June 11-17. Outfielder Anthony Giansanti had his brother visiting for the week and the team went out of its way to make him feel at home. Matthew “Mattie” Giansanti is Anthony’s twin. Mattie was born with Down syndrome.
“He’s actually 10 minutes older than me,” Anthony said.
On Sept. 28 the brothers will turn 30.
While Mattie was here, he got to be a part of the team.
“The Skeeters hooked him up with his own custom jersey and 2016 championship ring,” Anthony wrote on Facebook.
He got to hang out in the clubhouse and dugout. He got to throw out the first pitch and do a number of things the average baseball fan only dreams about.
“Thank you to all my teammates, the fans and the entire Skeeters organization for treating him so well and making him feel like a major leaguer for an entire week. I am forever grateful,” Anthony wrote.
The visit to Sugar Land was Mattie’s second time to visit his brother in Texas.
“I love watching Anthony play,” Mattie said.
Mattie thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It was very, very amazing,” he said.
For Anthony, it meant the world to have his brother with him.
“It’s very humbling; it keeps things in perspective for me,” he said in an interview. “You lose sight of why you do things and the whole grand scheme of things, why you’re out here doing the things you love. He brings me back into that humble position where I’m grateful for being able to do things like this, and to have him out here with a smile on his face just enjoying the simple things in life and it allows me to kinda be able to do the same thing.”
The brothers were born in Connecticut. Mattie and their mother now live in Pennsylvania. Anthony is in his second season with the Skeeters and his third in the Atlantic League. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 49th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft out of Sienna College but did not play for the A’s. He was signed by the Chicago Cubs in June 2010 and spent seven seasons in the organization, reaching as high as the Triple-A level.
While with the Cubs in Iowa, Anthony developed a crush on Ultimate Fighting Championship champion Ronda Rousey and famously left tickets for her at each game. Today he is a little more focused on the job, family, and things that are important in life.
In a Facebook post, Anthony called Mattie, “my biggest hero and my biggest supporter.”
Watching the two of them together at Constellation Field was heartwarming. Mattie exuded happiness and love and it touched each person he interacted with. The other players treated him like royalty, like one of the guys. You could see the excitement in Mattie’s face.
I don’t know what their childhood was like, but I imagine is must have been frustrating at times for Mattie to see his brother excel in a sport and reach the professional level, knowing he could never do those things. I also imagine that Mattie was incredibly proud and happy for Anthony because he was good enough to do all those things. I do know that I was very, very envious of the love they share.
I have two younger brothers and I’m not close to either of them. I want to be. It’s hard when you’re more than 1,000 miles apart and have different interests and very different lives. I spent much of my childhood trying to avoid being stuck with my siblings and wanting to hang out with the older, cooler kids. As an adult I’m paying the price for that and it’s one of my deepest regrets.
That doesn’t seem to be the case with the Giansantis. You can see and feel the love and respect they have for each other.
I asked Mattie what he does for a living. He said, “I just finished my college writing. I will get a real job soon.”
If the whole baseball experience wasn’t exciting enough, Mattie got to be there when the Skeeters took a walk-off win against the Road Warriors. Anthony scored the winning run. Seeing the two of them celebrating after the game was amazing.
“My family’s always been such big supporters of me, especially him, and to have him out here and to see how the Skeeters organization and my teammates have been treating him, I can’t ask for anything better and it brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it,” Anthony said. “Some things are just bigger than baseball and this is that thing for me.”
Skeeters baseball. More than baseball. Go Skeeters!