Baseball has been central to the lives of generations of the Zumpano family, including father Gene and son Steve, who both played for Frostburg State University’s Bobcat Baseball team. Sadly, the life of the Zumpano who may have been the best of them all, Steve’s younger brother Aaron, was cut short. He died in 1988 in his freshman year of college as the result of a car accident.
Steve Zumpano, center, FSU class of 1990, and his parents, Gene Zumpano, class of 1963, and Pat Zumpano
Today Aaron’s memory is what is inspiring his family to support FSU’s baseball team through the Aaron P. Zumpano Memorial Baseball Fund, which supplies funds annually to enhance the players’ athletic experiences and meet the team’s immediate needs.
“Baseball has given me some of the greatest gifts of my life,” Steve Zumpano said, crediting the sport and his participation in it for his closest friendships, his career and meeting his wife. “It is my hope that current and future FSU baseball players have a similar experience, where those relationships with teammates and coaches continue to shape and influence them after college.”
Steve, a member of FSU’s Bobcat Hall of Fame, acknowledges that his younger brother was the more talented athlete, and had opportunities to play baseball at a number of schools. The brothers, both graduates of Northern High School in Garrett County, were three years apart in age, so they had few opportunities to play together as they were growing up. They were looking forward to sharing the field during Aaron’s freshman and Steve’s senior year. “I have no doubt his career numbers would have been deserving of Hall of Fame recognition as well. He was that good,” Steve said. “I was the centerfielder, but he was every bit my equal as a freshman.”
This is the second year the fund has supplied funds for the baseball program. In the 2010 academic year, the money helped purchase an outfield fence cap for Bob Wells Field, which has improved player safety and enhanced the look of the field. This year’s payment will be directed toward improvements in the locker room.
FSU Athletics, as part of the NCAA’s Division III, cannot make use of student tuition or state funds, nor are athletic scholarships available to DIII athletes. That leaves teams to rely on only students’ fees and private giving to meet their needs.
“Aaron felt strongly that sports and these types of relationships played an important role in his life,” Steve said. “Baseball was the sport that we both loved the most. Our family’s continued financial support of the baseball team, through the Aaron P. Zumpano Memorial Baseball Fund, is done in his memory to assist the team with current needs and to encourage and enhance these types of lifetime friendships in some small way as well.”
His brother hadn’t declared a major yet, but Steve suspects that his desire to help others would have led him to a career in education – assuming he didn’t make it into professional baseball.
“Aaron knew that obtaining a degree was the most important goal as a student-athlete. If being able to play baseball after college as a professional was an option, then it would be a bonus,” Steve said. “His interests were diverse, but he enjoyed people and helping others.”
For more information about supporting FSU Athletics, contact Leslie Reed at 301-687-4161 (866-241-3296 toll free), email email@example.com or visit www.frostburg.edu/foundation/ways-to-give.