For other 11-year-old baseball players, the highlight of the season may be playing at a Little League All-Star Tournament.
Marek Palladino has gone even further than that.
Last year he participated in the finals of the Pitch, Hit and Run competition at AT&T Park in San Francisco. And last month he represented Half Moon Bay at the District 52 Little League All-Star Tournament.
Next week, Palladino travels to Nettuno, Italy, to participate in the International Mundial Hit Baseball Tournament, sponsored by the Italian Baseball Federation.
Representing the United States Specialty Sports Association, the Americans will be playing against teams from Northern Italy, Central Italy, Southern Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Spain and China.
Palladino received two new bats engraved with his name as part of qualifying for the team. Though it can’t be confirmed, it’s probably safe to assume that Giants catcher Buster Posey didn’t have a bat with his name on it when he was 11.
“It’s cool to see my name on the bat,” Palladino said. “It’s also exciting to represent the United States. It’s like a mini Olympics.”
Palladino tried out for the team back in spring. He knew what was at stake.
He learned a few days later that he made the team. The subsequent planning to get there went into effect. Palladino and his family won’t have much time to relax, as no sooner do they get off the plane than they must hop a train heading to Nettuno, 40 miles south of Rome.
Palladino and his teammates have just one day of practice before the tournament begins.
They will play six-inning games, just like in Half Moon Bay. But one sign that Palladino is playing outside of the United States is that the ball is a little softer, limiting the number of home runs.
“The farthest I have ever traveled for a baseball game is just over the hill, to either Hillsborough, Foster City, Burlingame or Redwood City,” Palladino said.