By Cary Shuman
Annamaria Addonizio – Spiriti had never played softball until her first practice in the Revere High School program.
Baseball was her game growing up in the city – there were not many youth softball leagues in the area like there are today – so she competed as the only girl in the St. Mary’s Cal Ripken League under the leadership of coach Rich Robichaud and on the Chiefs team in the Revere Babe Ruth organization.
Addonizio-Spiriti became an instant sensation at Revere High. Tabbed by former coach Joe Nichinello to be the starting shortstop as a freshman, Addonizio-Spiriti went on to play more than 80 consecutive games for the Patriots.
“Mr. Nich was a great person,” recalled Addonizio-Spiriti. “Michelle Kilduff was our outstanding pitcher and we had some very good teams.”
The technically sound right-handed hitter and gifted fielder helped lead Revere to four State Tournament berths and one trip to the Division 1 North final. She earned four consecutive GBL-All-Star berths and was named an All-Scholastic after leading the state in hitting with a .630 batting average – the highest ever in RHS history.
You want speed? She stole 144 bases in her four-year high-school career.
Ohio State University and UMass/Amherst recruited Addonizio-Spiriti but she chose to stay closer to home and accepted a scholarship from St. Anselm College.
Addonizio-Spiriti proved to be as splendid an athlete in college as she was in high school. A starting infielder for four seasons, she batted .337 and was an all-Northeast-10 Conference selection three times. She became the school’s all-time stolen base leader and was second in home runs, becoming the cleanup hitter in her senior season.
“Strength and conditioning was always my thing and we had a workout program at St. A’s,” said the 5-foot-5-inch Addonizio. “I would always do a little bit extra and you would find me in the gym on days off.”
On Feb. 11 following a full day of festivities culminating in an impressive ceremony on the campus of St. Anselm in Manchester, N.H., Addonizio-Spiriti was inducted in to the college’s Hall of Fame.
Addonizio was introduced at the ceremony by her sister, Gina, and joined at the induction dinner by her proud family, including her parents, Angelo and Silvana Addonizio, her husband, David, a former Everett High quarterback and Northeastern and UMass/Dartmouth football player, and their two children, Marco, 5 and Rocco, 3, and her brother, Anthony, and his wife, Cathy, and their son, Anthony.
Addonizio said she treasures her collegiate experience at St. Anselm where she received a degree in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s degree in School Counseling from Cambridge College.
Like many college athletes, her first year was a time of adjustment.
“Initially it was very difficult and challenging because you really need to learn how to manage your time,” said Addonizio-Spiriti. “But as a freshman I was set up with an athletic coordinator who was a professor and he helped me organize my schedule.”
Addonizio-Spiriti said many of her home games were played in chilly weather “but the only really, really cold day I can remember was playing at Dartmouth College and it was snowing. It’s New England, so you have to expect that occasionally.”
In her senior year in 1997, Addonizio-Spiriti was invited to play for Italy’s national softball team. Her family is originally from Italy and she is fluent in Italian and has visited the country several times. But after weighing the offer to represent Italy on the international stage, she returned to the city and began her professional career. She is currently a guidance counselor at Winthrop High School.
Addonizio-Spiriti has stayed active in softball. She held coaching positions in Everett, Stoneham, and Swampscott and at the age of 42, she still plays in a women’s summer league in Nahant.
“When I was at Swampscott, I coached against Coach Nich and that was bittersweet and it was at Hill Park,” said Addonizio-Spiriti, who now coaches her son in the T-Ball division of the Revere Youth Baseball League.
Looking back at her career as a trailblazer and one of the city’s most illustrious female athletes, Addonizio-Spiriti said Revere shaped her life in a positive way.
“I have awesome memories of my days growing up and playing softball in Revere,” said Addonizio-Spiriti. “I miss Hill Park. My parents and family were so supportive and my mother was at all my games home and away. I’ll never forget all the friends I’ve made through sports.”
Though she humbly declined to respond when asked where she would rank herself on Revere’s list of all-time softball players, one thing is certain: when and if Revere High launches a Hall of Fame, Annamaria Addonizio-Spiriti will be a first ballot lock for the inaugural class.
Yes, she was that good – as St. Anselm College reaffirmed to anyone who ever watched her play a sport she loves.