The stadium reminds them of their son, Chris, and the hours the family spent playing, coaching and umpiring baseball at the Stamford landmark.
Now, when the Sabias take the walk from their house over to Cubeta it will not be just memories to remind them of Chris.
Saturday, in between games of a double header between Stamford Senior Legion and Trumbull, a flag was raised in centerfield reading “Sabia 17” in honor of the late president and general manager of the Stamford Legion program.
— Scott Ericson (@EricsonSports) June 22, 2019
Sabia died in the summer of 2017 at the age of 39 after a battle with lung cancer and the baseball community in Stamford has been looking for a way to honor him since.
Saturday, Sabia’s family joined members of the Stamford Legion family past and present in raising the light blue flag with navy lettering towards the bright June sky.
“Between Chris and me, literally half of our life has been in this park and on this field — his playing, coaching and work with Legion. And I spent many years here umpiring,” Jim Sabia said “This is the complete circle. It is a tremendous tribute to Chris. Now, we will always have Chris right here.”
Coincidently, the new home the Sabia’s bought behind Cubeta is No. 17, Chris’ number as a player.
Sabia was a member of the 1994 and 1995 Stamford teams that played in the Babe Ruth World Series before taking the mound as a pitcher at Westhill for legendary coach Frank Donatucci.
Sabia was co-captain and named an All-FCIAC pitcher in 1996 at Westhill before playing at Stonehill College for four years under coach Pat Boen.
After college, Sabia coached and later took over as general manager and president of Stamford Legion until his passing.
He left behind a wife, Emma, and son, CJ. CJ helped Jim raise the flag which will fly in centerfield every summer Stamford Legion plays at Cubeta.
Pete Stokes works for the city of Stamford and is responsible for maintenance of the playing field at Cubeta.
The idea of the flag came to him one afternoon as he stood alone on the diamond at Cubeta.
“I am here a lot, alone, cutting the grass. I knew Chris needed something more,” Stokes said. “We couldn’t name the stadium or the field after him, so, what are we going to do? I thought Chris overseeing everything here in center, would be fitting. When I am cutting the grass, I always felt him here and I speak to him when I’m here. That’s it. I think this is fitting.”
It is not only fitting the flag will fly over the field but also apropos the flag is beyond the outfield fence where Sabia would privately pace during especially tense Legion games.
He likely would have been pacing there Saturday as Stamford rallied and walked-off with the win in of the seventh in the first game of the doubleheader against Trumbull.
“It feels like (Sabia) drew it up. It was one of those back-and-forth games,” Stamford Legion coach Kevin Murray said. “This is the area he used to pace and you never knew where he was. Depending on the score, he would change up where he paced a little bit. This is a special spot. We know he’s always looking over us, but it’s official now. Now, every time I need to think of a strategy I am going to look out here and look at the flag and see which way the wind is blowing. I am so proud to be a Stamford Legion coach, right now.”