I have known Coach G since my senior year of high school in 1991, when he recruited me out of Cherry Creek HS in Englewood, CO. I didn't play for him my freshman year but transferred to Trinidad State JC where I played for him in 1993. Eventually I ended up working for Coach G at USF when he gave me my break in major college baseball, as the volunteer assistant at USF in the fall of 2000. When I was thinking of getting out of the business world after college and into baseball, Coach G was the first person I called and he facilitated a fact-finding meeting with a friend of his, Doug Schreiber, head coach at Purdue. That meeting spurred me on my way to my career that has seen me coach at the D1 level, scout for the Atlanta Braves, and now run a successful event while also assisting many players as they work toward futures in college baseball.
That I eventually followed my dream of being in baseball has everything to do with my relationship with Coach G. You see, at the end of our 1993 season (which ended in the playoffs and short of our team's goal of reaching the JC World Series), in a hotel room in near Fruita, Colorado, Coach G told me in our one on one end of season meeting that if there was ever anything he could help me with in the future, I could call him and count on him. I was injured during that 1993 season but continued to put my energy into our team, often sitting near Coach in the dugout and "pestering" him with my ideas during each game. He appreciated the type of teammate I was while injured and when he said I could count on him, he meant it and he followed through on that promise.
You see, Coach G is a loyal man, a good friend, a good man, a great leader and he has been an extremely important person in not only my life, but in the lives of so many of his former players. If anyone has ever wondered why USF baseball has been so successful, look no further than the man who has been leading the way since the fall of 1998, Nino Giarratano.
In all likelihood Coach would not want his and his father's story made public because he is a private and a humble person with great inner strength, qualities that come from his mother and father, both of whom I have known over the years. However, their story is public now and I just wanted you all to know him a bit more.
The following story was not written by me, rather it was sent to me as a person with interest in USF Baseball. Enjoy.
By Stacy Hicklin
Assistant Media Relations Director
DENVER - Some collegiate baseball coaches spend the off-season coaching summer ball. Others run camps, all recruit and most take some vacation time. USF coach Nino Giarratano will spend his time off by recovering from a surgery that he underwent to give his father a kidney.
On July 11th, Giarratano checked into the Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver for his first-ever procedure that would require an overnight stay. He was wheeled into the operating room at noon and two hours later, doctors took his kidney next door and began surgery on his father, Mickey.
In early September of this past fall, Mickey went in for what he thought was a routine gallbladder surgery. Following the surgery, his kidneys suddenly failed. Doctors started him on dialysis, hoping that would help his kidneys to recover. Days went by, then weeks and still no change.
A routine surgery turned into a 40-night stay. A short-term solution turned into a life sentence. Now, three times a week, Mickey reports to the hospital for a five-hour dialysis treatment.
It wasn't long into the treatments before Mickey began to dread going. He spent his life outdoors, competing in sports like softball and golf, taking in baseball games all across the country and socializing with friends and family. Suddenly, being subject to so many hours in the hospital began to take its toll on his normally energetic approach to life.
Doctors told Mickey that the only alternative to a life centered around his dialysis treatments was a kidney transplant. It seemed like a far-fetched possibility at his age of 80.
Back in San Francisco, Nino pushed through the fall baseball season, but spent countless hours worrying about his father and his health struggles.
"It really hit me when my dad got sick this fall," Nino said. "He has always been healthy and worked so hard his entire life so when he got sick I immediately thought 'what can I do to help?'"