Fitch grads tied to Tribe

Father, son like Cubs ... and Indians

Two graduates of Austintown Fitch have more than a rooting interest as the Indians try for their first World Series championship in 68 years.

Todd Kubacki, who is now based in Arizona, is the Cleveland Indians minor league strength and conditioning coordinator.

In a interview Saturday with the Tribune Chronicle, Kubacki, a graduate of Austintown Fitch High School, said he feels a sense of accomplishment as he has seen many players he has worked with down through the last nine years reach the pinnacle of their profession.

“There is no greater feeling than to see a player accomplish his goals,” Kubacki said. “That’s a reward of being a coach.”

Kubacki said he is not particularly rooting for one player over another.

“So many of these guys have worked so hard to get to where they are today,” he said.

Kubacki has no job with the major league team during the World Series, but he is rooting hard for them to win as he prepares for the upcoming offseason conditioning of the minor leaguers in Arizona.

After playing baseball and cross country at Fitch, Kubacki started at Youngstown State University, where his dad, Dan, was the baseball coach. However, he chose to minor in political science.

“However, I come from a baseball family, eventually I went into the weight room with Todd Burkey and eventually I decided halfway through to become a strength and conditioning coach,” he said.

Kubacki started with the Tribe organization nine years ago and worked with minor league teams in Lake County, Akron and Columbus. He has nothing but praise for the people who work for the Indians all the way up and down the ladder.

“I have been truly blessed to work for such an organization,” he said.

One of Kubacki’s former cross country colleagues at Fitch, Joel Hammond, works for the Indians’ front office, spending most of his time in the press box as the assistant director of communications.

Hammond’s job is to be the link between the public and the fans. He says the way the players interact with each other and the public makes his job easier.

The Bowling Green journalism grad used to write for out-of-state newspapers. He then took a job with Crain’s Cleveland Business where he concentrated on sports. That led Hammond to Indians PR man Curtis Danberg and a job with the organization.

In addition to this being a special year for the Tribe, the two Fitch grads are marking personal milestones. Kuback will be getting married next month, while Hammond and his wife welcomed a baby boy to the family six months ago.

All they need is a Tribe World Series title to top off a perfect year.