DANBURY — It takes a special athlete to earn a roster spot as a freshman, especially at a school as large as Danbury and in a conference as competitive as the FCIAC, but it takes a unique breed to perform.
During the 2019 baseball season, Jackson Ciccone proved to be that caliber player, posting a .300 batting average as a freshman and making a name for himself across the state.
A three-sport athlete, Ciccone made both the varsity baseball and basketball teams as a freshman before logging time at quarterback as a sophomore on the football team.
Ciccone’s baseball performance earned him the most recognition, and he was named to the GameTimeCT 25 CIAC players to watch list entering this spring season.
Nearly two years after his standout freshman season, history seems to be repeating itself in Danbury.
While Jackson Ciccone is taking on a leadership role for the Hatters as a junior this season, his younger brother Luke is following in his footsteps as a freshman.
“It is awesome getting to play with my brother, I haven’t played with him since we were 10 years old,” Jackson Ciccone said. “We have great chemistry; we’ve played basketball growing up together so it has been awesome getting to play baseball together again.”
Like his older brother, Luke is a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball.
“They are both very competitive,” Danbury coach Shaun Ratchford said. “They are both good football players and are both very good basketball players even though they didn’t play this year. They are three-sport athletes, and I love kids that can compete.”
In Danbury’s three games thus far the Ciccone brothers have not only started, but both have gotten at least one hit in each game.
“They are kids that know how to compete,” Ratchford said. “They may fail at the end of a game or on a play, but it won’t be because of freezing it up, it will be because baseball is a tough game to play.”
Jackson has picked up right where he left off nearly two years ago and has stepped into a leadership role.
“No matter who pitches against us, he gives us a good at bat,” Ratchford said. “I think that is important in high school, that someone gets up there and says ‘Hey, I can hit this kid’. It doesn’t matter who is out there and that attitude is infectious.”
Through the first three games, Jackson Ciccone has led Danbury (1-2) out of the leadoff spot with a .556 batting average with three stolen bases and five runs scored.
“My freshman year I looked up to Javon (Hernandez),” Jackson Ciccone said. “He was a great leadoff hitter, so I am following in his steps the best I can. He was a great role model for me and now I feel like I am ready for that leadership role.”
Now experiencing what his brother had two years before, Luke Ciccone has looked to his brother in the early going.
“It is fun playing on the same grass as my brother,” Luke Ciccone said. “It has been helpful with learning what to expect at the next level with faster pitching and how to play at the speed of the varsity level.”
Like his older sibling it did not take Luke Ciccone very long to establish himself in the lineup, collecting his first career hit in his first game.
“He is already stepping up, he has had a hit in every game so far,” Jackson Ciccone said. “He isn’t scared of being in the spotlight as a freshman. He is ready for this.”
Despite the many similarities between the two, Ratchford believes they could develop into different types of players.
“Luke is a different kind of kid,” Ratchford said. “He’s a left-hander and is a bigger kid. He’s the kind of hitter that is going to hit the ball over guy’s heads as opposed to in the gaps, while Jackson is more of a gap hitter, a line-drive hitter.”
During the offseason, the Ciccone brothers spent their time practicing at the indoor facility of their Summer ball program (CT Kings) and in the gym.
“I think they have a healthy relationship,” Ratchford said. “They break each other’s chops when they need their chops broken and they pick each other up when they need to be picked up.”
With Jackson paving the way, Luke Ciccone has learned to take his brother’s success as a challenge.
“Jackson has always set the bar for every sport we’ve played,” Luke Ciccone said. “My goal has always been to exceed that whenever I get to that age. Going into this year I am trying to beat all of his numbers and all that stuff.”
As if facing one Ciccone wasn’t enough, opposing FCIAC pitchers may soon learn that the only thing scarier than one Ciccone is two.