BANGOR, Maine — Anthony Capuano has harbored aspirations of playing Division I baseball since he was barely old enough to play tee ball.

“I remember being really young, probably 5 or 6, watching the College World Series on TV and thinking, ‘I want to do that,’” he said.

Now the 17-year-old first baseman and outfielder will get the chance to realize a Division I baseball future close to home, as the Bangor resident has made a verbal commitment to become a scholarship player at the University of Maine beginning in the fall of 2013.

“I loved the coaching staff up at UMaine for baseball but it’s also for family reasons,” said Capuano, the son of Jack and Donna Capuano. “I’ll be 20 minutes from my home if I need to go home, and my sister’s [Adriana] up there. It’s a good fit for me.”

Capuano will follow in the athletic footsteps of his father, a former All-American hockey player on the Orono campus and currently head coach of the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League, and his uncle Dave, also a former Black Bear hockey standout who went on to play in the NHL.

“I think when Anthony analyzed the situation he had to look at what would be in the best interest for him,” said Jack Capuano. “And when he broke it down he really enjoyed the coaching staff and coach [Steve] Trimper at the University of Maine and it was no different from when I went to Maine with [former hockey] coach [Shawn] Walsh.”

Anthony Capuano expects to sign his National Letter of Intent formalizing his commitment during the early signing period in November, and until then Trimper cannot comment on the matter.

Capuano helped Bangor reach the championship game of the 2010 Senior League World Series and batted .500 in helping Bangor High School advance to the 2011 Eastern Maine Class A final.

He attended Avon Old Farms in Avon, Conn., during the 2011-12 school year, and while at prep school he repeated his sophomore year as he reclassified to the Class of 2014.

But with the opportunity to attend the University of Maine and be part of the Black Bears’ baseball program beginning in the fall of 2013, Capuano plans to revert to his original academic status in the Class of 2013 this fall and return to high school in the Bangor area. He’ll likely be back at Bangor High School, although though he has not yet been enrolled.

“Anthony’s got a lot of great friends at Bangor High along with the faculty and coaches,” said Jack Capuano. “He’s learned a great deal from [BHS baseball head coach] Jeff Fahey and [assistant coach] Dave Morris and in Legion baseball the learning experience just continued on with David there so we’re excited about that.”

Because he reclassified to the Class of 2014 while at Avon Old Farms, the younger Capuano is in the process of working out an academic schedule for the coming year that allows him to take an extra class or two in order to meet his Class of 2013 graduation requirements.

“I had a great experience at Avon Old Farms, but I’m really excited to graduate with some of my close friends,” said Capuano, who plans to focus his collegiate studies on mathematics or science. “I’m also most excited for baseball and trying to win a state championship hopefully.”

Capuano has not decided whether he will play football and-or hockey during the coming year after playing both sports in addition to baseball as a freshman and sophomore and Bangor and then while attending Avon Old Farms.

He has had a busy baseball season this year, first at Avon Old Farms last spring and then with the Northeast Baseball travel team program throughout the summer.

Through the Northeast Baseball experience, he played in approximately 50 games of 18-and-under and 17-and-under competition against college-bound players in a series of showcase tournaments that stretched from New England to Georgia.

One unique element to that opportunity was the chance to use wooden bats, something Capuano believes will help him in his baseball future.

“I feel like this summer with the wood bats really helped me out,” he said, “because when I go back to the BBCOR-[standard bats now used in the college and high school ranks] if I hit it off the handle it might be a base hit where with the wood my bat shattered.”

And Capuano’s baseball season is not yet done, as he’ll leave this weekend to play in the Summer Rivalry Classic Baseball Tournament at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., an event founded by the family of former Boston Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...