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May 27, 2012Head coach Tony Vittorio said that most of the players' parents made the road trip to the Bronx this past weekend to see their sons capture the Atlantic 10 Championship. One father that was noticeably absent from Houlihan Park was that of the Dayton head coach, or was he?
Those that have been around the Dayton program any time during the past 13 years were guaranteed to meet Phillip Vittorio, father of the Dayton coach. Phillip was a fixture at the ballpark, home or away, and he and his son seemed inseparable.
That was until March 9th, when Phil passed away after a battle with cancer.
"We got off to a rocky start, my dad passed away, I just felt like this was going to be a miserable season," Coach Vittorio explained. "Bottom line, we have 10 seniors that hung in there, led, and left everything out on the field for the last month."
10 seniors and maybe a little help from above. Yesterday, the Flyers shutout the Richmond Spiders, 3-0, to capture the Atlantic 10 title, despite being out-hit by the Spiders.
"I probably looked up in the sky seven times (yesterday) when we needed him," Vittorio said. "There was no doubt he was looking over us. Dayton baseball was a huge part of his passion and energy and that's where I probably get it from."
Vittorio's father was known as "Papa V" to the players, and many times he'd be found at Time Warner Cable Stadium or wherever Dayton baseball had a game. It was a unique bond between Tony and his father with the passion and love for one another apparent.
"I know a lot of people have good relationships with their dad, but it was a special relationship," the Dayton coach said shortly after his team captured the Atlantic 10 crown. "I've had several people tell me, even before dad passed away, that they wished they had a relationship like that with their dad. I didn't know it was that special until this happened, it was just the way dad and I went about things."
With the Atlantic 10 championship comes at least another week of baseball for the Flyers. There's no doubt, Phillip will be with the players and Coach Vittorio as they make their first ever appearance in the NCAA Regionals later this week.
Even in spirit, Coach Vittorio and his father are still inseparable.