In December, the Post-Gazette and the Regional Review both wrote in remembrance of Joseph “Dom” Campochiaro, who passed away on December 8 of 2014. I would like to add a few words here as well.
I was one of the many lucky North End youth to have had Dom as a coach when I played Little League. Dom’s patience, as Sal Giarratani stated in a quote from his Post-Gazette editorial, was endless. He had a kindness about him that never wavered, and a certain smile in his eye that never left no matter what. In addition, it seemed to me that there was always something very noble about the way he carried himself, and the way he spoke – whether it was on the field or on the corner, or walking to or from his work truck. He was a great role model for us kids. He was also a great coach. He knew the game of baseball very well, as his own playing was renowned.
I had the honor of interviewing Dom in June of 2011 for the still to come documentary film on the North End. Dom told me a little of his time playing baseball in the U.S. Army in the early 1960s. The tryouts for the 7th Army team began with 2,000 players, which was then whittled down to 200, and then to 50, and then to the final roster of 25. When Dom made the team he called home in the North End to ask his mother to send his baseball glove. He recalls that since the phone was in his grandmother’s apartment he had to keep putting coins in the payphone while he waited for his mother came down the stairs to get to speak to him. Dom played infield during his first year. After the American season was over, Dom was asked to play for the German National Team. They played in Bologna and Dom, the only Italian on the team, was loudly cheered when his name was announced. Dom became an assistant coach during his second year. He could not serve as head coach since only an officer could hold that position. However, when his Army enlistment ended, Dom was asked to coach for a Holland team, an offer he refused because his heart as always was back in the North End. It was Holland loss and the North End’s gain.
In his Regional Review tribute, Phil Orlandella suggested that a plaque in one of the North End parks in his memory. I add my voice to the placement of a plaque. Dom deserves it. And I can’t think of better words to close here than those of Phil in the above tribute: “Dom was one-of-a-kind person that had a heart of gold, a willingness to be a major part of the community and a true friend to many, many people.”