YAPHANK, N.Y. – A youth baseball coach from Long Island appeared in court Saturday, accused of stalking his rival’s family and sending threatening text messages, police said. Police said 45-year-old Robert Sanfilippo, who manages a team of 10- and 11-year-old boys, was arrested on charges of stalking and aggravated harassment during a game in Yaphank on Friday… Sanfilippo got into a dispute with another coach during a tournament in May. Police said Sanfilippo then bought an untraceable phone and started sending text messages threatening to harm the other coach, his son and his wife. Commack resident John Reardon told Newsday that he, his wife and their 10-year-old son were the targets of Sanfilippo’s messages. “I didn’t know it was him at first,” Reardon said. “It was nerve-racking. I couldn’t sleep. When he suddenly started mentioning my son by name, it just hit me that it was this guy.” The texted threats included blurry photos that appeared to be taken from a long-distance zoom lens, with one showing Reardon waiting with his son for the school bus and another of his wife taking packages out of the car, Reardon said.
You know, I’ve coached a lot of 10- and 11- year old baseball in my time and feel like I want to win just as much as the next guy. And while I’d never go as far as Sanfilippo did here, I have to admit I admire his dedication. I mean, that is a lot of work to go through to gain an edge over a rival coach. Personally I’ve never gone any further than Saturday batting practice and cut off drills. Maybe keep a book on where the opponents hit and move my outfielders around. But that’s just laziness on my part. This guy is all in. It takes a lot of your free time and money to get yourself a Ho phone and a telephoto lens and stalk a kids bus stop and I have to tip my cap to the guy. He wants it more than me. And judging by what Coach Reardon is saying, I’m sure it worked. It’s a little hard to concentrate on setting your batting order and making sure the little ADHD kid is getting enough playing time without having to worry about whether your son is going to end up getting kidnapped by some creep. Again, while I wouldn’t have chosen this particular course of action, you’ve respect his effort. Don’t hate the playa, hate the game. @JerryThornton1