It was a little more than week ago when Anthony D’Alfonso packed his bags for one more shot.
D’Alfonso, the former University of Southern Maine slugger, was a year out of baseball and had tried everything.
He was working on a dump truck in Westbrook and playing slow-pitch softball when one more opportunity came up.
So D’Alfonso flew to Yuma, Ariz., for a tryout with an independent league team located near the Mexican border.
He waited in a hotel room for two days and was close to returning home to Westbrook when the Yuma Scorpions of the Golden Baseball League called to offer him a tryout. They’d make time during batting practice before that night’s game.
It was all he needed.
D’Alfonso hit several pitches out of the park and was to signed a contract within an hour. He went 4 for 4 Tuesday night in his third appearance at first base.
“It’s crazy how life turns,” said D’Alfonso. “One day I’m playing softball and dumping other people’s garbage. The next minute I’m at a tryout and finally playing baseball again.
“It’s been a long bumpy ride. Now I’m just so focused. I feel like I could do anything right now.”
The Yuma Scorpions play in the same league in which Boston Red Sox rookie Daniel Nava spent time during his long journey to the big leagues. Scorpions General Manager Peter Young said it took the team no time at all to make a decision after seeing D’Alfonso.
“He hit about 19 balls out of the park during BP (batting practice),” said Young. “We signed him, got him on the bus. He was in uniform that night. I haven’t seen him since.”
D’Alfonso has lost 30 pounds, chiseling himself down to 235 since finishing his collegiate career in the spring of 2009. He hit .438 for the Huskies as a senior with a single-season-record 76 RBI, 17 doubles and nine home runs.
Two summers ago, he led the New England Collegiate Baseball League with a .426 average for the Sanford Mainers.
But it’s been quiet for about a year.
After a stint in the independent Frontier League last summer, D’Alfonso spent the offseason in the gym and taking swings.
He worked part time as a driver for a trash removal company in Westbrook.
When they could, D’Alfonso’s parents, Nick and Melissa, helped organize trips to tryouts all over the country. He tried out for the Red Sox organization, but was told they didn’t have a place for him. He went back to the Frontier League in Michigan.
“We’d tried everything,” said Melissa D’Alfonso. “Anthony was close to hanging it up to go play professional softball.”
During his two-day wait in Arizona, D’Alfonso was minutes away from buying a ticket home when an old high school friend, former Westbrook golfer Brian Fasulo, texted him to report he was 19 miles away and would be over in just a few minutes. Fasulo lives outside Phoenix.
“I’m sitting in this room. My head’s spinning,” said D’Alfonso. “That kid, I owe him so much. He just gave me so much energy. It was the most uplifting thing. He came to the tryout with me.”
D’Alfonso’s family is grateful he hung in there.
“Sometimes things have to get at their lowest before they turn around,” his mother said. “During BP, he finished with nine consecutive home runs. Everyone on the field stopped.”
Young said D’Alfonso will have to prove he can hit with power consistently. The Scorpions, who play a split season, are a half-game out of first place nearing the end of the first half.
“He has to prove he can consistently play adequate defense. We can probably live through a (few) inadequacies on defense because of his bat,” said Young. “But the next week or two will be very important to see how he handles it in the starting lineup.
“We’re in a pennant race. We need to see how he handles it.”
D’Alfonso said he believes he will handle it just fine.
“I think it’s just me and two other guys who don’t have experience in the big leagues or Double-A or Triple-A. It’s pretty impressive,” he said. “I’m just so glad I’m getting this chance.”
Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: