Vinnie Carminati
Vinnie Carminati, #25 on the Men's Baseball team. (Photo by Lee Ferris, Mount Saint Mary College)
MSMC Knights: Work Hard, Play Hard

by John Buckridge

The game of baseball has been dubbed “America’s pastime” since it was first invented in the late 19th century. For Mount Saint Mary College senior Vinnie Carminati, baseball has been the number one pastime since he was old enough to grip the seams of the ball.

Carminati competed in multiple sports at Harborfields High School in Huntington, NY, like basketball and track, but baseball was always his greatest passion. He loves the mental aspect of the sport and how unpredictable it can be; anything can happen.

“Baseball is flat out hard, and the fact that I’ve done well at it and mastered it made it an easy decision for me to play in college,” he said.

Carminati wanted to play ball for the Mount, but felt he was being held back by his physical therapy major. His grades kept him from playing his freshman year, and he knew a change had to be made in order to do what he loves and be successful in the classroom.

“PT just wasn’t for me; it didn’t drive me and I couldn’t develop good study habits for it that would allow me to also play ball,” he said.

Carminati knew he was passionate about baseball, but in order to play again, he had to find a passion in school. He found that he was interested in business because of the wide range of career options it offered, and he quickly realized he could be successful in that major.

Once he had a new major under his belt, he could once again utilize his natural talent on the diamond. Since he decided to red shirt his first year, he did not lose a year of playing and could still be on the team for four more years.  Carminti wasted no time in making an impression as a Knight. He had something to prove after a year away from the action. He wanted to show that he could play and still compete at a high level.

He had an impressive first year. He appeared in 33 games, starting in 29 of them. It may be hard for first-year players to see that much time on the field, but he had earned it. He put up a respectable .295 batting average and led his team with 27 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. He was a perfect fit as an outfielder as well; he had a 0.961 fielding percentage with 72 put outs. Carminati loves playing the outfield because he can show off one of his strongest attributes: his “cannon-like” throwing arm that he used to record two outfield assists.

He made such an impression that first year, he made the Skyline Conference Second Team.  The stand-out freshman won Skyline Rookie of the Week honors on Mar. 28 of that year, and MSMC Rookie of the Year, verifying that Carminati was a force to be reckoned with over the next three seasons.

He would face quite a hurdle, as he underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason his sophomore year to repair a tear in his labrum.  He didn’t let it slow him down; he played in all 39 games with 38 starts. The shoulder injury inspired Carminati to change his approach at the plate, becoming more of a contact “slap” hitter.  His focus was on driving the ball to the opposite field and up the middle.

His new strategy paid off in the form of a stellar 0.431 batting average and a 0.506 on-base percentage.  He played efficiently, not hitting into a double play the entire season. In addition, Carminati recorded still-standing career highs of 40 runs scored, 56 hits, and 32 runs batted in, as well as popping two home runs.

He piled up the accolades that year, being named to the New York Region Third Team, as well as making the ECAC Metro Region All-Star Team as an outfielder. Carminati jumped from Skyline Conference Second Team to First Team.

“All I did was just try not to do too much and play my game coming off the surgery, and it worked,” he said.

His performance his sophomore year would be a hard act for anyone to follow, but Carminati did not quiet down at all his junior season. For the first time as a Knight, he started every game and hit for a high 0.383 batting average that included 41 hits and a career-high 5 triples. He enjoyed his most consistent season with the glove in the outfield as well, committing only 1 error and on his way to three outfield assists and a near perfect 0.984 fielding percentage. That year Carminati  received his highest honor yet by making the All-Conference First Team. I asked .

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for all of it and appreciate it, but I don’t concern myself with that stuff,” said Carminati.  “People tell me about the awards, but I don’t pay attention to personal achievements and accolades. The team and winning are more important.”

Despite his honors, his answer shows an uncommon modesty. Humility keeps him focused on the bigger picture.

On the eve of his senior season, Vinnie’s work on the field is near its end, but not over yet.  He has challenged himself and said he would love to finish this year with a 0.500 average. As for his team, he truly believes that the Knights of 2014 have a real shot at a Skyline Conference Title and has been impressed thus far with the current freshman players.

“This year we have no holes in our line-up, everyone’s a tough out, and our pitching staff has really come together,” he said. “If we can stay healthy, we can really go far.”

Baseball is a difficult sport to play in the offseason because it is suited for the outdoors and warmer climates. To stay in shape and on his game, he often visits his own hitting instructor. Together they work on any flaws or holes he may have in his swing, as Carminati knows there is always something one can make better about his game. While working with his hitting coach in Farmingdale, NY, he is often lucky enough to train with minor league players as well, and is aware there are always new things to learn from them.

Carminati continued to work on himself for his final season and stressed that he really wants to go out with a bang this year. He spent a little extra time in the weight room trying to add some more pop to his bat, and develop some more power to his swing.

Through the first seven games of this season, he has seen results. He hasn’t completely ditched his “contact” approach because it has worked for him so well. Instead, he has added on to that by working on his power and pulling the ball more to right field.

“What I’ve worked on over the winter is making me impossible to pitch to because there are no more weak spots in my swing,” he said.

Just like how he learned from his flaws in his game and turned them into success, he has done the same in school. He has taken his experiences in physical therapy freshman year and applied them to his now successful business major. He proudly graduated in May 2013 in business and is currently finishing up his MBA. Sometimes taking seven to eight classes per semester, Vinnie realizes that going out and having fun are luxuries and should be viewed as a treat. He now prioritizes baseball and his studies alone, and consciously takes time each semester to organize his schedule perfectly so that it interferes with baseball as little as possible.

He plans to graduate from the MBA program this December and has lined up several interviews for himself in various business-related internship positions, including one with New York Life. He also wants to take the Series Seven stockbroking exam to further increase his range and value in the field.

“I don’t necessarily have a specific career goal,” he said. “Right now I want to give myself as many options as possible and see where it takes me.”

If Carminati experiences even half of the amount of success in business as he has in baseball, he’s looking at a productive career.

“You got to motivate yourself; [you] can’t rely on others to do it for you. You have to want it for yourself and you’ll get it.”