“Walk him! Walk him!” screamed the Brooklyn faithful at Cyclones’ manager Tim Teufel as Bensonhurst resident Anthony Bocchino came to bat for Williamsport in a crucial spot on July 28.
The Cyclones were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning, and the Crosscutters had men on first and second with one out. The shouting Brooklyn fans were imploring Teufel to make the unorthodox move of advancing two runners and putting Bocchino on first and loading the bases. The fans didn’t want the red-hot Bocchino — who had a .450 average (9 for 20) against Brooklyn this season, and had already singled in the lone Williamsport run — to beat the Cyclones,
Teufel went with conventional wisdom and decided to have the Cyclones pitch to Bocchino. But after a wild pitch put runners on second and third, the crowd got their wish. Bocchino being walked prevented him from beating his hometown team, and the Cyclones held on to win the game against their McNamara Division rival.
Who is this guy who has been murdering the Clones, whose father, Leo, is a security officer at Keyspan Park?
Bocchino was four years old when he started playing ball at Our Lady of Grace Church in Gravesend. He went on to become a baseball standout at Xaverian High School, in Bay Ridge from which he graduated in 1998.
He continued his success at Marist College. There he hit .444 in his senior season, and holds 16 school records, including the base hit record, with 334, and the career RBI record with 217.
Bocchino led the Marist Red Foxes to their first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title and its third straight MAAC tournament title in 2002. He was named to the All-Regional Team in the NCAA Tournament, and a Collegiate Baseball Second Team All-American that same year.
That resume led him to be picked in the 11th round of the 2002 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 5-foot-10, left-handed batter and thrower started this season at Hickory in the South Atlantic League, but then was sent back to Williamsport, where he began his professional career last season.
Making a case for return promotion, Bocchino had a season average of .317 and a slugging mark of .452, third on the Crosscutters after finished the four game series at Keyspan.
Bocchino is Brooklyn through and through. His fiancee is Danielle Juiga, a fellow Brooklynite and a fifth grade teacher at PS 215 in Gravesend.
Any time Williamsport comes to Brooklyn, Anthony’s mom tries to make his teammates feel at home.
“My mom knows how it is for me to be away so much, so she wants to be like a mother to these guys,” says the 23-year-old left fielder.
Last year, on a Williamsport visit to Brooklyn, Anthony’s mother invited the entire Crosscutter team to the Bocchino home for a pasta dinner. The entire team, not being fools, readily accepted.
This year, the Bocchino hospitality continues.
“My mom is a family woman and she wants to make the guys feel at home,” states Anthony. “Yesterday, she made pasta for the guys and she brought it down to the clubhouse and the team had it between games of the doubleheader.”
The Crosscutters won the second game to sweep the doubleheader, so the pasta must have been not only delicious, but also nutritious.
“It’s minor league baseball,” adds Bocchino, “we don’t get all that catered food that the big leaguers get, so it helps.”
Anthony says he expects to see 50 to 100 people at each Williamsport game in Brooklyn, “plus others that show up that I know from the neighborhood.
“It just seems that my game elevates when I come back here to Brooklyn. The crowd gets me going.”
How about a favorite spot in Brooklyn? These minor league guys sure work up appetites, and Anthony is no exception. One of his special Brooklyn hangouts is right in Bensonhurst.
“I go to L&B Pizza in Bensonhurst, that’s one of my favorite spots,” says the trim Bocchino, referring to L&B Spumoni Gardens at 2725 86th St.
How does Anthony support himself? He didn’t get a huge bonus when he signed, so he has to work in the off-season.
“This past off-season, I was a substitute physical education teacher at Intermediate School 303, right in Bensonhurst,” explains the personable outfielder.
“And at the games here at Keyspan, kids come up to me and say, ‘You taught me!’ That’s pretty cool.”
Anthony Bocchino is pretty cool himself. Behind the Williamsport dugout, Section 9 fan Steve Sommers admires Bocchino’s style.
“Even after he makes an out, he looks confident. He’s got that Brooklyn attitude, that ‘Saturday Night Fever’ strut,” says Sommers.
“I like that.”
August 4, 2003 issue