By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
68-year-old Pete Colletti plays in the Long Island MSBL for the East Islip Angels in the 55-over division. Pete’s MSBL journey has spanned 20 years and has successfully progressed from the 35-over and the 45-over platforms on the strength of their pitching, as per Pete’s assessment. So, what’s the big deal? This discussion could involve hundreds of players throughout the country. Well, there is one twist.
Enter Bunny Brennan. Bunny is Pete’s lifelong friend and their baseball brotherhood started 60 years ago in Little League. They have been teammates ever since, including their current Angel’s team.
“We started in Little League, then school ball, then travel ball, and yes, even softball before we found baseball again 20 years ago,” said Colletti. “Bunny is a shortstop and center fielder but also used to pitch, but a rotator cuff surgery put an end to that.”
Pete said they have won a couple of league championships together but that has never been their focus.
“We are all about having fun and we don’t take it too seriously. We had a couple of pretty good pitchers who kept us in most games, including a 59-year-old Padres farmhand. But as we get older, we enjoy each other’s company more than the win at all costs mentality.”
Pete manages the team but shares first base now with Bunny for one important reason.
“Bunny had cancer and had to go through chemo so after last year we had to adjust a little. But I have never seen a more dedicated guy in my life. We play our games on Sundays and he would have his chemo sessions on Monday and it would take its toll for a few days. But he was always there on Sunday to play. He is amazing.
During his cancer battle, we had some ‘Bunny Strong’ shirts made that the team wore under their jerseys.”
The two of them have also taken the Angels on the road. Pete manages the team but Bunny is never too far away.
“Back in 2003 we took the team down to Disney World in Florida for one of the MSBL tournaments,” explained Pete. “Our kids were at the age to enjoy it so we went down, got creamed, and hoped we wouldn’t advance to the playoffs and then have to disappoint the families and not go to the park. It turns out we didn’t have to worry!”
The excursion that Pete was especially thrilled about was their annual treks to Cooperstown and their weekend of playing ball at Doubleday Field.
“We went for ten straight years, starting around 2002, and were able to play three or four games over the weekend. We took the families and had a blast. But as the kids got older, they weren’t as excited about it and the teams we played were also getting younger. It finally hit a point where it was no fun to go there and get waxed every year. But there are many great memories.
Our team even considered buying a house outside the right-field fence, but it didn’t work out. If at all possible, everyone should make that trip at least once. You won’t regret it.”
You mentioned that you and Bunny started playing ball together in Little League. What are some of those memories?
“Back when we were eight, Bunny’s dad, Bob, was our coach. His nickname was Bunny, so everyone called our Bunny ‘Little Bunny’. Over the years it has grown to Bunny, so in a way, it is a tribute to his dad planting our baseball roots.”
Pete is a retired teacher and a big Yankee fan, with a room dedicated with memorabilia to prove it. He has also endured three back surgeries, two knee surgeries, wrist surgery, and rotator cuff problems. That explains his larger desire to simply play and see friends rather than worry, fret, and strive for a championship to define success. Any closing thoughts?
“MSBL has my deepest gratitude for providing the opportunity for two relatively old men to continue to do what they first began as children.”
Well said, young man.