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Baseball coach Grandizio steps down at Shady Side Academy

| Sunday, June 4, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Shady Side Academy head coach Bob Grandizio Jr. watches on as his team warms up before a recent game.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Shady Side Academy head coach Bob Grandizio Jr. watches on as his team warms up before a recent game.

Since 1965, there have been three baseball coaches at Shady Side Academy: Alex Howson, Harry Fleishman and Bob Grandizio Jr.

Soon there will be a fourth.

After 18 seasons as the head baseball coach at SSA, Grandizio decided to call it a career.

“I decided to step away from coaching for family reasons,” he said. “I have an 11-year old daughter who is starting middle school and is actively involved in lots of programs, and my 4-year-old son has autism. His needs are pretty heavy, so I look forward to shifting my coaching skills to him.

“My wife is sad that her career as a coach's wife has come to an end, but she will be happy to have my help around the house. My admissions job is also ever-increasing and to get the baseball program back to prominence would require more and more time and energy every year, and I simply don't have that time to give.”

Grandizio said there is plenty of talent remaining in the program that will help maintain a level of success.

“The team will be strong for the next several years. We will have 16 returning varsity players next year, good JV players and a strong middle school team knocking on the door,” he said. “Whoever takes my place will have a great core with which to start, and that was very important to me as I contemplated my retirement.”

In his 18 years as head coach and one season as an assistant, the Indians compiled a 242-100 overall record and 163-41 mark in section play. They made the playoffs in 18 of the 19 seasons.

They claimed nine section championships, a WPIAL runner-up finish in 2001 and a WPIAL championship in 2009. Twenty-three of his former players went on to play college baseball and one (Tim Giel) pitched in the New York Yankees organization.

Grandizio Jr. also was an assistant football coach from 1999-2009 and served under Gene Deal, John Cappa and Dave Havern.

“It was an amazing experience, and being an assistant wrestling coach under Tim Giel Sr. from 1999-2003, which included a WPIAL championship in 2001, remains one of my fondest coaching memories.

“My fondest baseball coaching memories are winning the WPIAL in 2009 and working with my assistant coaches Harry Fleishman and John Cappa for 19 years,” Grandizio said. “They are selfless mentors and great coaches. I am also embarrassed to admit it, but every time a new kid would get his first varsity hit or first win on the mound I would get a little emotional about it. It's always a proud moment.”

Coaching was a family tradition for Grandizio at Shady Side Academy.

“I grew up around SSA athletics and followed my dad into the coaching ranks,” he said. “My dad was an assistant football coach at SSA for one year and head coach for 18 years, and I was an assistant baseball coach for one year and head baseball coach for 18 years. I never planned on it happening that way, but I think it's pretty neat that it worked out that way.

“I will be helping Gene Deal and the school search for my replacement, and I am excited about the opportunity. It has been a rewarding, challenging, enjoyable and exhausting ride.”

Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.

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