Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Streeto Found His Calling as a Catcher and a Captain

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Recent East Haven graduate Mike Streeto proved a quality catcher and an excellent leader throughout his tenure with the Yellowjackets’ baseball squad.

Photo courtesy of Mike Streeto

Recent East Haven graduate Mike Streeto proved a quality catcher and an excellent leader throughout his tenure with the Yellowjackets’ baseball squad. (Photo courtesy of Mike Streeto )

Two weeks into his senior year of high school, Mike Streeto reached out to East Haven baseball Head Coach Butch Johnson about getting the team together for some early practices. Even though the first game was still several months away, Mike, one of the team’s captains, wanted to make sure that the Yellowjackets started putting the pieces in place to have a memorable campaign.

Coach Johnson agreed, but told Mike that he could only hold practices if the majority of his teammates attended. As the weeks went on, Mike and his fellow captains encouraged more and more people to come to the practices. They all wanted to prove that East Haven could be a force in both the SCC and the state this spring. Although the Yellowjackets were unable to play their season, Mike was proud of his teammates for dedicating themselves to success.

“We all came to an agreement to ask coach to work two weeks into school. We were completely eager to play our season and wanted to win states,” says Mike. “So, we wanted to work harder than any other team. We wanted to give ourselves an advantage of becoming bigger and stronger, physically and mentally.”

Mike was a freshman when East Haven played Amity in the semifinals of the SCC Tournament in 2017. A catcher, Mike had yet to see varsity playing time and watched as the Yellowjackets took an 11-0 loss to Spartans. After that game, Mike and his teammates knew that they needed to work harder in order to succeed in the postseason.

By the time he was a junior, Mike had earned the job as East Haven’s starting catcher. Once again, the Yellowjackets squared off against Amity in the SCC Tournament that season. East Haven took a 2-1 loss to the Spartans, but after losing by 11 runs two years earlier, Mike saw just how far his club had come.

“We learned to adapt to better pitching, make less errors, make better decisions, and play better baseball,” Mike says. “Getting to Amity for a second time in the SCCs as a junior, we knew we needed to beat them and get our revenge. Unfortunately, we lost, but Nate Furino had an outstanding pitching performance and only let up a couple hits and a two-run homer, which were the only runs we allowed.”

Before Mike found his home behind the plate, he spent some time at shortstop and on the pitcher’s mound. Mike was influenced to start playing baseball by his two grandfathers, Ralph Streeto and Alfred Fusco. Streeto was a member of the Chicago White Sox organization, and Fusco was a catcher during his playing days. Mike’s goal was to be just as good as his grandfathers were.

“I first started playing baseball when I was only four years old. Growing up, I’ve always wanted to play because of my two grandfathers,” says Mike. “I aspired to be as good as they were, and that’s what pushed me to play.”

Mike started catching as a member of the Connecticut Dynasty in the East Shore Travel League. He immediately fell in love with the position and felt that his time as a pitcher and shortstop helped him with his arm strength, as well as getting used to the speed of the game, once he became a catcher. Mike watched catchers like Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals to learn about blocking and Salvador Pérez of the Kansas City Royals to learn about framing. However, above anyone else, Mike grew up idolizing New York Yankees’ catcher Jorge Posada and often watched games with Fusco to study the intricacies of being a backstop.

“My grandfather was the one to teach me catching and got me into it. We watched the Yankees together before he passed away. He taught me how to block, receive, and study catching from Jorge Posada,” Mike says. “My grandfather pushed me to learn as much as possible. I realized I loved catching as soon as I started it at 12 years old.”

Mike saw some varsity playing time behind the plate as a sophomore. In his junior year, he was named East Haven’s starting catcher and began calling the pitches in every game. As a senior, Mike was selected as one of the Yellowjackets’ captains. Now that he’s graduated from East Haven, Mike is looking forward to attending Quinnipiac University, where he will pursue a medical career in radiology.

Coach Johnson was impressed how much Mike improved throughout his career with the East Haven baseball team. Johnson says that Mike brought great determination to both the diamond and the dugout on an everyday basis.

“It has been a pleasure. He works so hard,” says Johnson. “Mike was the catcher and the captain on the field and off the field. He did everything we asked. He loved the game and looked to not just make himself better, but those around him better, too. He just wanted to win.”

Playing baseball was Mike’s childhood dream. Mike learned a lot about the sport from his grandfathers and, once he stepped on the field, he did everything in his power to become the best player he could be. During those moments where he would watch the Yankees with Fusco, Mike knew the path that he wanted to take. As he traveled that path, Mike earned the opportunity to lead the Yellowjackets as a captain, while appreciating everything that makes baseball such a special game.

“It meant the world to continue playing the sport I was taught by my grandfather. Before he passed, we would sit around and watch every Yankee game together,” Mike says. “Playing baseball is more than just playing a sport. It’s a lifestyle and an opportunity to better yourself.”


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