On it went bunt or hit away, throw over or pitchout, infield in or back, or hit and run or steal. 'Coach' was ready, and he always made his pick before the pitch, not after, to avoid second guessing. And never, never, did he criticize the current managers for their choices.
DeNunzio wasn't pleased in the top of the first when MHS gave up two runs, but cheered up when the locals got one back to make it a better game.
Note to readers: Mike Pitruzzello, MHS director of athletics, invited Hank Hiller to last Wednesday's inaugural softball game at the new Hank Hiller Field at MHS for a similar ceremony to DeNunzio's. Hiller declined the invitation due to prior obligations.
The game stayed 2 1 for a couple of innings, and when Middletown got the leadoff man on in two innings, the question was should they bunt.
Exactly the two things a coach should consider most.
The former Middletown High coach can usually be found at a game involving a city team any day from April to September, and the 89 year old is as sharp as ever, guessing the strategy of the opposing coaches as the games unfold.
"We were both in the old Connecticut Valley Conference," he recalled. "Back then, there was a big discussion of whether high schools should play seven or nine innings. What they did was make the first round seven inning games and the second round nine. That worked great because it was getting dark after seven innings early in the year anyway."
"A cutter would be better," he quipped. "That way if it's in the dirt, I can say it's a pitch that's supposed to be in the dirt."
He was 'lifted' after the one pitch ceremony.
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"I haven't warmed up," he said. "In fact I haven't thrown a ball yet this year."
Mike Pitruzzello, MHS director of athletics, introduced DeNunzio, who threw out the first ball and posed for pictures with the MHS captains and the sign 'John DeNunzio Field' that will hang on the backstop. The captains then signed the ball for the legendary coach.
Monday afternoon was Nike Vapormax Plus Blue no exception as he watched Middletown and Newington play a baseball game, a game the Blue Dragons lost, 6 3.
Between innings the legendary coach would recall some of his great players down through the years, or some of the great teams or games he remembered. He also recalled that Middletown used to play Newington every year.
"I'm on a pitch count," he laughed.
It was suggested he throw a change up.
"Best seat in the house," he said. "You can see everything from here."
"Depends where they are in the order and how good a bunter the batter is," he assessed.
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It didn't take long for him to notice how Newington pitcher Cole Bryant was mixing his pitches pretty well and keeping the Middletown hitters off balance.
DeNunzio went out and made the throw, which stayed out of the dirt.
for maybe a Middletown win.
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He then parked himself on his lawn chair behind the backstop.
"He's a good one," DeNunzio said. "That curveball of his is just good enough to keep them guessing when it's coming."
Before going out to the ceremony, DeNunzio joked he Nike Air More Uptempo White Varsity Red
Catching up with MHS coaching legend
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