Anthony Seratelli poked his head inside the Omaha Storm Chasers clubhouse on Tuesday night 30 minutes after the Las Vegas 51s defeated the Storm Chasers, 10-4, presumably to say hello.
Seratelli, 31, spent seven seasons in the Royals system - two of which were in Omaha (2012-13). But when the Mets came calling before the 2014 season, he thought he had a better shot at making the big leagues with them, so he took the deal. He didn't put up the numbers to make the big league club in spring training, so he ended up in Triple-A, Las Vegas.
If you aren't familiar with his backstory, it's worth reading. He's been struggling against the odds since since his high school playing days in New Jersey. In fact, he was cut from the freshman team. He pushed on anyway.
After high school, he walked on at Seton Hall and started all four years, but didn't catch the interest of a major league team so he played independent ball. After working out for several major league teams to no avail, he learned about an open tryout for the Royals. He gave it a shot and they offered him a minor league contract. He worked his way up through the Royals system, playing every position on the field, except catcher.
Sadly, on his way up the ladder, his father, Russell, was killed in a freak automobile accident before the 2011 season. If you have never watched the tribute video Seratelli made for his father on the one-year anniversary of his death, get the Kleenex ready.
After arriving in Omaha, a group of fans sat with him at a meet and greet and told him they wanted to have a little cheering section for him. From then on, Section 108 at Werner Park became known as Telli Town. They printed Telli Town t-shirts, and held up Telli Town signs. And in 2013, they held their first annual Telli Town tailgate in the parking lot at Werner Park. Of course, they invited Seratelli, and he showed up.
When he signed with the Mets, the Telli Town Facebook page cheered him on. Even though he didn't make the big league club, they have followed him all season while playing for the 51s, posting links to articles and making plans to see him play. Last week Telli Town made the trek from Omaha to Des Moines (where Las Vegas took on the Iowa Cubs) because they just couldn't wait two more days for the 51s to play in Omaha.
When the 51s rolled into Omaha, Telli Town was busy preparing for its second annual tailgate. Seratelli showed up for this one, too, which was held on Sunday after the game. He chatted with the residents, enjoyed food fresh off the grill, posed for pictures and even played a little Whiffle ball with the children. He said 30-40 people showed up for the event, including Omaha pitcher Buddy Baumann.
"It's the best thing in the world," Seratelli said about the support. "That's what you play for - for people to root for you. You don't want to be the bad guy out there. You want people on your side who want you to come through in situations, even as an opposing player, and their support makes it that much easier. That's why I love playing here."
As much as he appreciates the gesture, he's hoping to be in the big leagues next season, which would squash any plans for a third annual tailgate.
"The goal would be, to not be here." He laughed. "But if I am, I know they will be here to support me and that's a nice feeling."