The Bishop Hendricken baseball program has a tradition in center field that is unparalleled anywhere in Rhode Island.
From future Major League draft picks to future college stars, the middle of the Hawks’ outfield is rarely devoid of one of the state’s top talents.
And this season, that tradition continued with flying colors.
Senior Tom Pannone patrolled center for Hendricken, just as he has since his junior year, and he put his name firmly in line with the past greats.
Those stars include former No. 6 overall pick Rocco Baldelli, University of South Carolina star and recent eighth-round pick Evan Marzilli, Chicago Cubs prospect Jeff Beliveau and recently crowned Atlantic-10 Conference Player of the Year Jeff Roy. Now, there’s a spot for Pannone.
“We’ve had so many great players, and he’s right in there with them,” Hendricken head coach Ed Holloway said. “We were talking about all the center fielders that we’ve had, just starting with Rocco and Jeff Beliveau and Evan Marzilli and Jeff Roy and now Tommy. It’s hard to pick any one of them. They were all great players. He just kind of fell in line with them.”
Pannone had been a standout for Hendricken since his sophomore year, but it was this spring that he really put himself on the map.
Before the season, he signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Division I University of Miami, a perennial contender in the powerhouse Atlantic Coast Conference.
Then, he went on the field and delivered. He hit second in the Hawks order, and hit .394 with six home runs. He also pitched, and he morphed into one of the team’s best on the mound, where his ERA was a miniscule .14 and he struck out 81 batters in 50 innings.
“I think he was probably the most dominant player in the state,” Holloway said. “On the mound, he just dominated all the opponents. It was almost like two to one in strikeouts and innings pitched.”
When June rolled around, accolades started to roll in. He was selected by the Cubs in the 33rd round of the MLB Draft, and then proceeded to take home MVP honors at the state championship baseball series, where he won his second title with the Hawks.
He hit a home run in the series and struck out 13 while allowing only one hit in the series-clinching game two.
“It’s amazing,” Pannone said after the game. “When I saw the MVP trophy the other day at the press conference I was like, ‘I want that.’ And I got it. It’s great.”
He’s still deciding whether or not he’ll sign with the Cubs or play at Miami, but he already became a part of Rhode Island baseball history.
“It’s been a stressful season,” Pannone said. “I really can’t put it into words. It’s really just been unbelievable.”