Leo Mazzone

From BR Bullpen

Leo David Mazzone

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Leo Mazzone was considered by many to be the best pitching coach of his time. He was the long-time pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves and also coached the Baltimore Orioles, albeit with less success.

A southpaw, Mazzone was a minor league pitcher from 1967 to 1975 before becoming a coach. After retiring as a player, Mazzone was manager of the independent Corpus Christi Seagulls in the Gulf States League in 1976, and Lone Star League in 1977. He then moved to the independent Kinston Eagles of the Class A Carolina League during the 1978 season. Mazzone's temper and vocabulary got him tossed out of several games that season. You could hear Mazzone's loud and angry voice throughout the Eagles' ballpark when he argued with umpires. Following the season, Kinston owner Ray Kuhlman, who knew Paul Snyder and others in the Atlanta Braves organization, recommended Mazzone for a job.

Atlanta hired Mazzone in 1979 and he took advantage of the opportunity to become a highly-successful coach. He was a coach with the Durham Bulls (1983- mid-1984), Sumter Braves (1986), Greenville Braves (1987), and Richmond Braves (1988- mid-1990) before he was named the pitching coach of the major league Braves in June 1990. He was also a manager of Greenville for part of 1984 and was co-pitching coach in Atlanta with Johnny Sain in 1985.

He arrived in Atlanta at the right time, as the team was nurturing a generation of extremely talented young pitchers destined for greatness, led by Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, but also including other highly-touted names - at the time - like Steve Avery, Derek Lilliquist and Pete Smith. Under his tutelage, Glavine and Smoltz blossomed into Hall of Famers, and were soon joined by free agent Greg Maddux to form a formidable "Big Three" that dominated the National League for years. he also had success with other pitchers such as Denny Neagle and Kevin Millwood, who had their best seasons under his supervisions, and a host of less talented pitchers, particularly in the bullpen, who pitched very well for Atlanta but were unable to reproduce their success elsewhere: Mark Wohlers, John Rocker, Kerry Ligtenberg and Mike Stanton come to mind. His pitching staffs anchored 14 division title winners in Atlanta. Among his pitchers' accomplishments with the club are four ERA titles, six Cy Young Awards, and nine twenty-game winners. He was known for rocking gently back and forth on his dugout seat while his charges were pitching.

Following the 2005 season, Mazzone was pursued by the New York Yankees but instead chose to become pitching coach of the Orioles in 2006. In Baltimore, he joined manager Sam Perlozzo, a childhood friend of his from Westernport, MD, where he grew up. Perlozzo even served as the best man in Mazzone's wedding. As compensation for losing Mazzone, the Orioles sent minor leaguer Moises Hernandez to the Braves. When Perlozzo was fired in June, 2007, Mazzone said he would complete his contract with the team, as he understood that his best friend's firing was just a part of the game. However following the 2007 season Mazzone was let go by the Orioles and he retired after that.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Leo Mazzone and Scott Freeman: Leo Mazzone's Tales from the Braves Mound, Sports Publishing LLC, Champaign, IL, 2003. ISBN 978-1582616742

Related Sites[edit]