At this point in May, we’d typically be in full swing of another exciting MLB season. In a perfect world, the New York Mets would be in first place in the N.L. East. Times are far from perfect though, as we patiently await the potential start of a baseball season.
While we’re not able to watch baseball these days, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at some of the top ballplayers from our diocese. Check out this roster consisting of student-athletes who attended one of our local Catholic high schools.
Dave Valle: Holy Cross H.S., Flushing A Bayside native, Valle was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1978. In 1990, he led the American League in fielding percentage at .997. He owns a lifetime .237 batting average to go along with 77 home runs and 359 RBIs.
Joe Torre: St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows
Torre truly is in a class of his own when it comes to local baseball talent. The Marine Park native played ball at St. Francis Prep’s Williamsburg location before being signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959.
Of course, Torre is best known for managing the New York Yankees to four World Series titles in the late 1990s. The nine-time
All-Star and Hall of Famer is the only major leaguer to amass both 2,000 hits as a player and 2,000 wins as a manager. He currently serves as MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations.
Rich Aurilia: Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge
Aurilia’s playing days started at Our Lady of Grace, Gravesend, before he moved on to Xaverian. The ties to the local community continued for the shortstop in college at St. John’s University, Jamaica. He is most known for his time with the San Francisco Giants. He was named an All-Star and won an N.L. Silver Slugger Award in 2001 after leading the league with 206 hits, batting .324, clubbing a career-high 37 home runs and driving in 97 runs.
Ed Kurpiel: Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood
Briarwood “Fast Eddie” set the CHSAA home-run record as a big-time power hitter for the Stanners in high school after starting his baseball career at St. Gerard Majella, Hollis. He played for the late great coach Jack Curran and led the team to three-straight city championships from 1969 to 1971.
The Cardinals selected the 17-year-old Kurpiel with the No. 8 overall pick in the 1971 MLB draft. On May 31, 1972 as a minor leaguer, he hit what some baseball pundits refer to as the longest homer ever hit — an estimated 738-foot blast.
Tom Carroll: Bishop Loughlin H.S., Fort Greene
Carroll was born in Jamaica and spent parts of three seasons in the 1950s playing for the Kansas City Athletics and the Yankees. As a 19-year-old, he appeared in two games as a pinch runner during the 1955 World Series – making him one of the youngest players in baseball history to appear in the Fall Classic.
Mike Baxter: Archbishop Molloy
A prodigy of St. Luke parish in Whitestone, Baxter played shortstop for Curran at Molloy, where he was part of the 2002 city championship team. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2005, and by 2011, he was with the Mets – his favorite team growing up.
He wound up appearing in 185 games for the Mets in parts of three seasons. Since 2018, he has served as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
Anthony Iapoce: Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst
A passion for baseball developed for Iapoce at St. Joseph, Astoria, and then at Msgr. McClancy, where he starred as the team’s center fielder. In 845 minor-league games, Iapoce sported a .273 batting average and reached the Triple-A level with the Brewers and the Florida Marlins.
Though he never reached the big leagues, his impressive pedigree as a hitter has kept him active in the game. He’s currently the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs.
Pete Koegel: Holy Cross
Koegel is a Mineola, L.I., native who spent parts of three seasons from 1970 through 1972 with the Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies. He recorded 15 hits and fi ve RBIs in 86 total at-bats.
Pedro Hernández: Xaverian
Born in the Dominican Republic, Hernández signed with the Houston Astros in 1976. He appeared in a handful of professional games for the Toronto Blue Jays.
John Halama: Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope
The Brooklyn-born lefty attended St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, and made his pro debut in 1998 with the Astros. He won 56 games in parts of nine big-league seasons – most notably with the Mariners.
Don Cooper: Msgr. McClancy
Cooper’s days at St. Mary’s Winfield, Woodside, eventually led him to the big leagues, where he pitched parts of four seasons in the early 1980s with the Minnesota Twins, Blue Jays and Yankees.
Since 2002, he has been the pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox, which included a World Series title victory in 2005. He is currently the longest-tenured pitching coach for the same team in the MLB.
Allen Watson: Christ the King H.S., Middle Village
A 1988 city champion with the Royals, the lefty Watson spent parts of eight big-league seasons as a starter and reliever. He’s a twotime World Series champion, having pitched on Torre’s Yankees of 1999 and 2000.
Steve Karsay: Christ the King
The College Point native Karsay pitched on the same Christ the King staff as Watson during the team’s 1988 city championship season. He pitched as reliever in parts of 12 seasons for six teams and is now the bullpen coach for the Brewers.
Ruddy Lugo: Xaverian
Lugo was born in the Dominican Republic before attending Xaverian. He was drafted by the Brewers in 1999, made his debut with Tampa Bay Devil Rays and later spent time in the Mets organization.
Pedro Beato: Xaverian
Beato, a native of the Dominican Republic, set a Mets franchise record in 2011 by not allowing a run over the first 18.2 innings of his career. The 33-year-old is currently a free agent.
Frank Seminara: Xaverian
Seminara won 12 games and struck out 90 batters in parts of three seasons for the Padres and Mets in the early 1990s.
Xavier Rescigno: Archbishop Molloy
Rescigno pitched at Molloy when it was actually St. Ann’s Academy. During World War II, the right-hander known as “Mr. X” pitched three seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates and finished with a career record of 19-22.
Mike Jerzembeck: Archbishop Molloy
Jerzembeck starred for Molloy on the mound for Curran. The Yankees selected him in the fi fth round of the 1993 MLB draft, and he pitched in three games for the team in 1998.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.