BRISTOL - Throughout his baseball career, Rob Bibisi has been counted out, the skeptics lacking confidence in him. And all his life, one of Bibisi’s greatest objectives has been making them eat their words.
“I’ve always had people [doubting me], so I’m always trying to prove them wrong,” Bibisi said. “That’s what I just keep on doing.”
Bibisi was born legally deaf.
But this summer, pitching for the Bristol Knights, that condition was no hindrance to the 2018 Bristol Central baseball alum.
Bibisi has been one of the Knights’ best arms, earning an All-Star game selection after pitching the second-most innings in the Connecticut Twilight League (56 2/3) and winning the league’s third-most games (4).
He also finished with a 2.72 ERA and was the team’s most-used pitcher (13 appearances) while sporting team-bests in WHIP (1.15), strikeouts (29) and complete games (3).
His final victory came in impressive fashion, a complete-game shutout in a 4-0 win over Elmer’s Angels on Monday, boosting the Knights to the championship series after he came through with clutch pitching in several pressure situations.
“It’s very impressive. I know all of us on the team are really proud of him. He’s come such a long way,” Bristol co-founder/advisor Scott Dickens said. “He doesn’t throw that hard. He just mixes some speeds and keeps guys off balance with movement. Nothing overpowering. He just throws strikes and doesn’t walk anybody.”
Bibisi joined the organization last season, but was used sparingly as a fill-in player.
The Knights gave him a shot to prove himself this season, however, having him pitch in the team’s first scrimmage this summer. Bibisi shined, and he went on to get extensive work with pitcher/coach Earl Oakes, who has served as a baseball tutor for Bibisi.
The mentorship worked, and Bibisi was a mainstay in the Knights’ rotation from that point forward.
“Rob has worked and worked and worked, and he’s come a long way,” Dickens said. “He just really took the opportunity and did fantastic.”
A hearing aid clings to each of Bibisi’s ears, but every time he took the mound for Bristol, the outing brought with it a bit of a reprieve. Almost an advantage, even.
He pitches without his hearing aids on, and though he admits he would be “focused no matter what,” the removal of them allows Bibisi to drown out everything and “get in my zone.”
He certainly was in his zone this season, and he will join seven teammates in Sunday’s game against the all-stars from the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League.
It’s a humbling achievement for him.
“It means a lot, especially in my first year after college,” Bibisi said. “It actually feels good to make myself noticed and prove everybody wrong.”
After only pitching during JV contests and not seeing any action as a freshman at Utica College in the spring, Bibisi says he’s now prepared to head back to the Empire 8 conference a stronger player.
He learned how to hit spots more consistently, and he figured out how to adapt to different umpires’ strike zones while pitching against good competition.
“This league is a lot harder than college,” Bibisi said. “They’re just really experienced in both leagues, and they both help out. They have more experience than college players, and minor league players come down here too.”
Bibisi is now hopeful he can parlay the experience he got and the improvement he showed this summer into his next three seasons at Utica, where he will be continuing to humble his doubters.
“I don’t want people to underestimate me,” Bibisi said. “Because if you do, you’re gonna be wrong, and I’m gonna be right.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or