BY STEVE KRAH
A combination of power, speed and confidence has carried Tony Rosselli through his athletic career and it’s now on display on the baseball fields of the independent professional American Association.
Rosselli, a graduate of Terre Haute (Ind.) North Vigo High School and Indiana State University, splits his time between left field and center field and bats from the right side of the plate for the Chicago Dogs. The team plays its home games at Impact Field in Rosemont, Ill.
“The best part of my game is my ability to make anything happen,” says Rosselli, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder. “I don’t really have a cap on the limits on what I can do during a ball game. I don’t have a roof. I feel like when we’re down, I feel like I can be that guy every time (to pick the team up).”
Through games of June 13, Rosselli was hitting .284 with seven home runs, 20 runs batted in and 15 runs scored in 20 games played.
In four seasons at Indiana State (2014-17), Rosselli hit .290 and clubbed 22 homers, 16 doubles and stole 14 bases.
While playing for the summer collegiate Coastal Plain League’s Edenton (N.C.) Steamers in 2015 and 2016, Rosselli set a league mark for homers over a two-year period with 24 (10 in 2015 and 14 in 2016). Edenton won the league title in 2015.
Rosselli played 60 games with the Dogs in 2018 with a .240 average and eight homers.
A teacher of speed and agility classes who also works as a rehabilitation aide at Athletico Physical Therapy in Terre Haute in the off-season, Rosselli says his speed is displayed more in his ability to get around the bases and to track down fly balls than a 60-yard dash time or stolen base total.
“Baseball is really not a straight-line speed sport,” says Rosselli. “How much torque and power you have, that has a bigger impact.”
From a young age, Rosselli learned from parents Bruce (a former Indiana State track and field star who was an Olympic bobsled driver) and Cheryl (a former world-class table tennis player with 27 international titles for the U.S.) that to succeed you have to have carry yourself with certainty.
“They stuck that in my head,” says Rosselli, 26. “Know your the best, you’re going to perform at the highest level
“In any sport I’ve ever done, there’s never been a different message.”
Rosselli graduated in 2012 from North Vigo, who he hit .373 with eight home runs and 51 RBIs and was named the Wabash Valley Baseball Player of the Year as a senior for the Shawn Turner-coached Patriots. He redshirted his first year at ISU before playing four years for Sycamores head coach Mitch Hannahs.
The ISU coach emphasized the simple things.
“It is just a game,” says Rosselli. “But in order to play it, you have to grind it out every single day.
“We were blue collar baseball players that gave our best every time. In order to succeed, we had to put int he work. That gave us a mental edge on team’s we played. It allowed us to believe in ourselves.”
That’s why Indiana State was able to stand up to powers like Vanderbilt.
Among Rosselli’s talented ISU teammates were Austin Conway, Clay Dungan, Dane Giesler, Ethan Larrison, Triston Polley, Jeremy McKinney and Tyler Wampler.
Rosselli played for the Terre Haute Rex of the Prospect League (Bruce Rosselli is an owner/general manager of the Rex and league president) in the summer of 2014 and for a few games in 2017 before beginning his pro career with the Utica (Mich.) Unicorns of the United Shores Professional Baseball League. After that, he played in the Asia Winter Ball League (Taiwan).
Playing for the hometown Rex in 2014 gave the younger Rosselli another full season of swinging the wood bat.
He graduated from Indiana State with a degree in Sport Management. He minored in motorsports management and marketing.
With the Chicago Dogs, Rosselli plays for a squad managed by former big leaguer Butch Hobson. D.J. Boston is the hitting coach.
“The competition level is a lot higher than I thought it was going to be (in the American Association) last year and it’s even better this year,” says Rosselli. “It’s just a very competitive league, which I like.”
While the average age on the Dogs is 27, that number is brought up by Carlos Zambrano, a 38-year-old right-handed pitcher who played 12 seasons in the majors with the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins and is making a comeback.
“He’s had a really big impact on me,” says Rosselli of Zambrano. “He’s a pastor now. His life has changed around since he found God. He’s a new man. He’s brought that to the team.”
Tony Rosselli is single. Older sister Paige is in marketing sales for Embroidery Express in Terre Haute.
Tony Rosselli, a graduate of Terre Haute (Ind.) North Vigo High School and Indiana State University, is in his second year with the Chicago Dogs of the independent professional American Association. (Chicago Dogs Photo)
Tony Rosselli played four seasons at Indiana State University (2014-17) before beginning his professional baseball career — first with the Utica (Mich.) Unicorns and now with the Chicago Dogs. (Chicago Dogs Photo)
Tony Rosselli, a graduate of Terre Haute (Ind.) North Vigo High School and Indiana State University, brings a combination of power, speed and confidence as a player with the Chicago Dogs of the independent professional American Association. (Chicago Dogs Photo)