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Lebanon’s Falzarano clan has a relative interest in Red Sox’ Arroyo

  • Boston Red Sox shorstop Christian Arroyo prepares to catch a wild throw from catcher Kevin Plawecki as Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. steals second base during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis) ap — John Amis

  • Miami Marlins' Corey Dickerson, right, is tagged out at second by Boston Red Sox third baseman Christian Arroyo, left, during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) Lynne Sladky

  • Boston Red Sox's Christian Arroyo, background, scores ahead of the tag by Tampa Bay Rays catcher Michael Perez on an RBI single by Rafael Devers during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) ap file — Chris O’Meara

  • The Falzarano family — Tad, Logan, Braeden and Stacey — pose for a picture with Christian Arroyo after a baseball game in Pawtucket, R.I., on Aug. 19, 2018. Tad and Stacey are Arroyo's uncle and aunt, and the Falzarano brothers are his cousins. The Falzarano family lives in Lebanon and regularly follows the progress of Arroyo, a former first-round MLB draft pick who joined the Red Sox midway through this past season. Courtesy photograph—

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/3/2020 9:38:42 PM
Modified: 10/3/2020 9:38:39 PM

A photo sits on Tad Falzarano’s desk of his nephew. Standing next to Cal Ripken Jr., a young Christian Arroyo is in his Cal Ripken 12-and-under World Series uniform and has a huge grin. The youngster’s love for baseball shows as he’s standing next to one of the best players in history.

But there’s another reason why the photo has been kept close. There in Aberdeen, Md., it became obvious to his uncle that Arroyo wasn’t just another ball player.

Just over 13 years after that photo was taken, Falzarano experienced another one of those moments when Arroyo played his first game with the Boston Red Sox on Sept 8. And in his first game at Fenway Park on Sept. 18, the third baseman hit a three-run homer against the New York Yankees.

“It’s awesome to see him in a Red Sox uniform,” Tad Falzarano said. His sister, Kim Falzarano Drummond, is Christian’s mom, and both she and Tad went to Lebanon High. “It’s a little surreal walking around town and at work, and people are saying they watched my nephew play the night before.”

After her junior year of high school at Lebanon High, Drummond moved to Florida with her mother, Barbara.

Arroyo was born on May 30, 1995, in Tampa. He was 2 years old when his parents split up, his father, Israel, going into the military and then moving away.

From there, Drummond turned into both Arroyo’s mom and dad. She worked long days and also stepped into the fatherly role, reading instructional books about hitting, playing catch with her son and going to coaches clinics.

Drummond eventually remarried when Arroyo was in sixth grade, but that didn’t change her dedication to him. There’s the story of when she was eight months pregnant with her daughter, Olivia, and hitting infield practice to Arroyo.

“I give my mom all the credit,” said Arroyo, who is living in Florida now that the season’s over. “She went through a lot. She always put one foot in front of the other for me. I mean, she taught me how to play. She’s kinda super mom.”

It was through her work and Arroyo’s natural gift of the game that he received college offers from Vanderbilt and Florida. He committed to Florida, but then the San Francisco Giants drafted him with the 25th pick in the 2013 draft.

Ranked 102nd in the 2013 class by Baseball America and out of Hernando High School in Brooksville, Fla., he inked a deal with the Giants that included a $1.87 million signing bonus.

“Obviously, through social media I keep in touch with most of my friends from up there (Lebanon),” said Drummond. “Everyone’s just super excited because they’ve followed me through his journey and cheered for him. But now it makes it that much more exciting.”

Arroyo wasn’t born in raised in Lebanon like his uncle and mother, but he knows about his family’s athletic nature.

His grandfather, Doug, was a pitcher for Hartford High in the early 1960s. A right-hander, Doug Falzarano was a player on the Hartford Legion team that played against a New Hampshire team that featured the Hall of Famer Carlton “Pudge” Fisk.

As a freshman at Hartford, he hurled the school’s first no-hitter in 27 years.

Who pitched the previous no-hitter for Hartford? Doug’s father, Ralph “Babe” Falzarano, in 1933, leading Hartford to a 14-1 victory over Hanover when he was a freshman, too.

Nicknamed Babe because he was built like Babe Ruth and was a lefty, he played in the inaugural season of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League — now known as the New York-Penn League — and pitched for the Bradford Bees in Bradford, Pa.

Tad Falzarano also was a standout at Lebanon before playing football at Plymouth State in the mid-1980s.

“I’ll never forget it: When my daughter was getting married, I was talking to some coaches down there who went to the wedding,” Doug Falzarano remembers. “And we were talking football and one of the coaches said to me, ‘Christian is a good football player, but he is a great baseball player.’ And that struck me.”

Drummond used to take her son up to Lebanon in the winter so they could see the snow. Arroyo and his cousins, Logan and Braeden Falzarano, are also close in age and have stayed in touch.

Logan was a soccer star at Lebanon High and is now a freshman at Johns Hopkins. His brother, Braeden, is a junior at Lebanon and recovering from injury.

Throughout Arroyo’s minor league career, the Falzaranos made trips around New England to watch him play on visiting minor league teams. They traveled to Fenway last season for two games when Arroyo was playing for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Doug Falzarano keeps in close touch with his grandson, too, with a term he’s created: textathons.

“We text back and forth a lot,” Doug Falzarano said. “I’ll tell my daughter, ‘Hey, Christian and I just had a textathon.’ I don’t go all baseball with him. I’m just his grandfather.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and the season was delayed, Arroyo was playing for the Cleveland Indians. After playing in a game for them after the restart, he was placed on waivers and picked up by the Red Sox on Aug. 13. And on Sept. 8 he was selected to the active roster.

He closed out his 14 games with the Sox batting .240 with three homers and eight RBIs.

Now with the offseason about to start, Arroyo says he has a good relationship with Red Sox chief of baseball operations Chaim Bloom, who he knows from his time in Tampa. His exit meeting was encouraging, too.

Boston media has reported that he’s getting serious consideration as the starting second baseman next year and could also be used at third base.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens this offseason with the moves and everything,” Arroyo said. “I’m just excited to continue to work on my craft and get better. Try to make myself a household name.”

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Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.




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