Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Life Lived to Its Fullest One of Caranese's Gifts

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Life Lived to Its Fullest One of Caranese's Gifts

Article excerpt

The 2002 yearbook at Greensburg Central Catholic features a clean- shaven, immaculately shorn Blase Caranese. Commencement photos don't.

"He had these little superstitions," said Bernie Caranese, chuckling amid her heartbreak. "The last time he got his hair cut senior year was in January, for his class picture."

Her son was the Centurions' starting third baseman, and in an attempt to ingratiate himself and his teammates with the baseball gods, decided he wouldn't get another haircut until they were eliminated from state-championship contention.

This was long before the PIAA playoffs, long before the WPIAL playoffs, even.

Somehow, that good-luck gesture worked. Greensburg Central went on to win the PIAA Class A title in mid-June. Talk about hair- raising experiences . . .

"It got real long, but it was curly, so it didn't look that bad," Bernie Caranese said. "Some people said it looked like an Afro. Blase finally got it cut at the end of June.

"That was the opposite of when he was in middle school. He had a shaved head."

Hairstyles, superstitions and baseball only begin to define the life of Blase Joseph Caranese III. But they are proof that he was a cut above.

On April 18, two days shy of his 20th birthday, Caranese died suddenly in his Greensburg home. He was in his bedroom on a Sunday, relaxing, when he became a victim of hypoplasia, a congenital condition unknown by his family in which arteries widen and narrow, restricting blood flow.

Since then, tears and memories have flowed freely from those who love him. And they are legion.

"Over 1,200 people signed the book at the funeral home," said Bernie Caranese, an employee with Latrobe Credit Union. "And there were people who didn't get to come in."

"There was a line a city block long," said Blase Caranese II, Bernie's husband. "There had to be 2,000 people who wanted to see him."

Some who live to 80 don't experience as much as their son did in his 20. A 2002 graduate, Blase Caranese competed in four sports at Greensburg Central: golf, football, wrestling and baseball. He acquitted himself well in each.

His baseball medal wasn't the only thing golden in Caranese's life, according to those close to him. He had a smile that would have thawed Iceland, a sense of humor that would have elicited grins on Mount Rushmore, and a sense of orderliness that is the envy of all parents of teens.

His bedroom, for goodness' sake, was immaculate.

Goal-oriented? A marvelous fielder and solid hitter, Caranese was an integral part of Greensburg Central's title run. Yet he didn't appear to be a Division II-caliber baseball player.

As a freshman walk-on, however, he made the team at Clarion University . . . and more.

"They were in Georgia in the early spring, and they were going to break him in at second base," his father said. …

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