After stops all over the continent of North America, Anthony Iapoce is finally back in the Northeast.
Iapoce, a former baseball standout at Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst, is now the senior hitting coordinator for the Boston Red Sox. His journey in baseball now continues a little bit closer to home.
From his days playing Catholic Youth Organization basketball and baseball at St. Joseph’s parish, Astoria, Iapoce knew he would gravitate toward a career in sports. For the Crusaders, he was the center fielder on the baseball team and point guard for the basketball team – both roles allowing him to display his leadership qualities.
Iapoce won four city championships in high school across both sports, setting a McClancy record. He also won five different MVP awards, All-City honors in both sports as a senior and McClancy’s senior student-athlete award. As a 23-year-old, he was a member of McClancy’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1996.
After graduating in 1991 and heading to Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas, Iapoce was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 33rd round of the 1994 MLB draft. He played nine professional seasons in the minor leagues for the Brewers and Florida (now Miami) Marlins, sporting a respectable .273 batting average in 845 games.
When his playing career ended in 2005, Iapoce spent four seasons as a minor-league hitting coach for the Marlins. He was then the roving minor-league hitting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays before being hired as the special assistant to the general manager and minor-league hitting coordinator for the Chicago Cubs.
Iapoce then spent three years as the Major-League hitting coach for the Texas Rangers, followed by the past three years in the same role for the Cubs. In his new role with the Red Sox, he oversees the minor-league coaches and coordinators while instituting an organizational-wide hitting philosophy.
“It’s a unique role for me, since I don’t see myself as a ‘senior,’” Iapoce said. “Being in the big leagues for the last six years, I’ve been fortunate enough to gain experiences that I can relay to these coaches who can then relay to the players.”
The idea here is that Iapoce serves as the bridge between the Red Sox minor-league affiliates and the Major-League ballclub. While his previous roles had him in the batting cages with the players, this one has him focusing more on the coaches to help them grow into future roles with the team.
Iapoce is a firm believer in that while a team may have a system-wide hitting approach, tailoring it to individual players is the key to success at the plate. So far, he’s been busy gathering information on players from the coaches who had them last year so that he can analyze what has worked and what needs improvement.
“The swing is not cookie cutter,” he said. “You can’t teach the same one. There’s never been the same one in the history of the game.”
Iapoce has been able to rub elbows with some of Boston’s top hitters – including Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Trevor Story. He’s constantly learning from these professional hitters, which in turn helps him relay the messages to the organization’s coaches.
“It’s pretty cool to be around Major-League players that I’ve coached against,” he said. “Now it’s cool to see them in the cage, how they practice, and what they work on. I’ve been interested to hear how those guys talk in a team meeting, and then I bring that information down to the minor-league coaches.”
Luckily for Iapoce and his family, all of Boston’s minor-league affiliates are on the East Coast, from Maine, to Massachusetts, to South Carolina. He’s delighted to be able to spend more time with his wife, Suzanne, and their three children: Lily, 9; Abby, 6; and Anthony, 5.
“We’re all excited about it to be able to take some trips together,” Iapoce said. “Being closer to my family has been the biggest blessing with this role.”
If the young Red Sox prospects come up to the big leagues and have some instant offensive success against the rival New York Yankees, you’ll have Iapoce to thank!
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.