Who says Baseball and Softball are not popular in Italy? Although the “Soccer” hegemony is still going strong, the game of Baseball is not new to Italians, in fact it was documented already in the late 1800s (as Base-ball) when the port city of Livorno hosted a match between the Navy crew of the USS Lancaster and of the ship Guinnebaug. Bring the clock forward 100+ years and in 2006 Team Italy was one of the nations invited to compete in the WBC.
To boost popularity, in the last few decades the Italian Federation has invited several promising Italian American players (superstar Mike Piazza and Chris Colabello to name a few) to come play for Italy and today the list keeps growing. Although playing sports is not the only reason why Italian Americans are seeking Dual Citizenship, players of Italian descent are certainly taking advantage of this amazing opportunity. Like center-fielder Micaela Abbatine, 21 years old, from NY, the latest rising star to be invited to play softball in Italy by the Italian Baseball & Softball Federation.
Together, we worked to gather the documentation required by the Italian Consulate to process her application; we started with the Italian birth record and the naturalization records of her great-grandfather born Saverio Abbatanduono born in 1913 in the small town of Santo Spirito (Bari, Puglia). Saverio set sail at the young age of seven and arrived in NYC in 1920. He settled in the Bronx, got married, had children and eventually naturalized in 1939 (six years after he declared his intention to become a US citizen).
Proof Micaela qualified for Italian Dual Citizenship was determined by the fact that Saverio’s son and Micaela’s grandfather, Vito Anthony Abbatino was born in 1933, that is six years BEFORE his father took the oath of allegiance. Saverio Abbatanduono aka Abbatantuono later became William Abbatine, a last name that the family has fully embraced. Each vital record (birth/marriage/death) related to the male line was acquired in the long form, certified, apostilled and translated to Italian. Different name spellings were quite a roadblock since it was difficult to prove to several vital records offices that they were “one and the same person”. The fact that the family had copies of older records turned out to be extremely helpful.
The day of the appointment with the Italian Consulate in New York came…it’s never too soon, in fact it was only a few weeks before baseball & softball practice was scheduled to start in Italy. A few additional requests (including one spousal document with no apostille and no translation) were quickly fulfilled so Micaela could finally show… her Italian passport!
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Photographs are courtesy of the Abbatine Family and the University of Maryland.
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