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Watertown Rams turn to familiar face

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When offered the opportunity to once again coach at the collegiate level in baseball, it didn’t take Paul Alteri long to make up his mind.

Alteri, a Watertown native and longtime area coach in baseball and football, pondered the offer for barely a couple days before making the decision to return to coaching on the diamond.

“This is something I’ve been itching to do again for a while now,” said Alteri after being named Tuesday as the new manager for the Watertown Rams of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.

“When (Rams co-owner and general manager) Todd Kirkey called me just last week and said ‘would you consider coaching?’ I said ‘yes, I’m interested’ almost right away,” Alteri said. “So it was just perfect timing, and I’m ready to get back into it.”

Alteri returns to coach for the summer collegiate league team after he managed the Rams, known then as the Watertown Wizards, from 2001-03.

“I’ve been ready for something like this for the last year, and I’ve seriously been considering getting back into coaching,” said Alteri, a former head baseball coach at Jefferson Community College, who teaches criminal justice at the school. “So when this came up, I jumped on it.”

Kirkey actively sought out Alteri, hoping he would return to the franchise and got his wish.

“The Cape Cod League does a nice job of getting solid local guys to coach that have the knowledge to do it,” said Kirkey, referring to the most well-known summer collegiate baseball league. “This provides teams with stability. Paul is the type of person who we hope will do this for a while for us. We’ve turned over coaches more than the other teams in our league the last couple years, and I think that’s been a bit of a problem.”

Alteri left the Wizards so he could spend more time with his son, Santino, who went on to star at Immaculate Heart Central in baseball and football and won a gold medal with Team USA in the United States Specialty Sports Association Under-18 World Baseball Invitational in July 2011 on a team coached by Paul.

With Santino now a freshman in college at Mount Olive in North Carolina, where he’ll play baseball at the Division II level, Alteri believes that now he has the time to return to the coaching ranks.

“I feel pretty good about the decision, especially with the support of my family,” said Alteri, who coached baseball at JCC for 13 years through 2009. “I’m looking forward to it and I’m ready to go.”

Alteri coached the Wizards when the team was a member of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. With the team’s name recently changed to Rams, Watertown will compete for the third season in the PGCBL.

“I’ve been to some games the last few years and I think the quality has increased greatly,” Alteri said. “The league is more organized and more professionally run ... I see this as a much better organization then the league they had 10 years ago. The players are better, the quality of the game is better and I like the game plan the Watertown management has. I think they’re doing things the right way and I’m glad to be part of it.”

The Watertown franchise hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007 as a member of the NYCBL, something Kirkey hopes Alteri can help improve on this season.

“Any time we can bring good local people into our organization, that’s a winning situation for us,” Kirkey said. “And there’s not a lot of guys around here who have the experience of coaching that caliber of players ... so I think we’re fortunate that Paul has that good experience and he’ll be a good fit for us.”

Alteri replaces Nathan Kafka, who led the then Wizards to an 18-27 record and a ninth-place finish in the PGCBL last season in his only year with the club.

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