Longtime Williamsville North baseball coach Jerry Scarcella has retired from teaching and coaching.
Scarcella, a health teacher for the school district for 22 years, guided the Spartans to the Section VI Class AA final last season. While they lost that game to Clarence, they were the only team to beat then defending section champion Lancaster during the 2017 season, defeating them twice -- the final time in the sectional semifinals.
"We were always right there, right in it," said Scarcella, whose club was a perennial contender during his 20 seasons at the helm.
Why is Scarcella, a member of the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame, retiring?
"That's a great question," said Scarcella, who served as an assistant at University at Buffalo and junior varsity coach at Williamsville South prior to taking the reins at North. "I'm 62, going to be 63. My kids are grown. We're probably moving to Florida for part of the year. I have an opportunity to work with some pitchers in the minors down there. I still know guys from when I played in the (San Francisco) Giants organization … just some fun."
Scarcella has been a baseball lifer, going from potential Major League pitching prospect who suffered a career altering injury as a member of the Giants organization to coach while playing locally as an amateur from age 29-45.
The Walt Whitman High School (Long Island) graduate was drafted in 1972 in the fourth round and seemed on the fast track to the majors – reaching Triple-A and securing a spot on the Giants' 40-man roster in the late 70s. Once that happened, though, Scarcella suffered an Achilles tendon injury while covering first base in spring training. A power pitcher who threw in the mid-90s before the injury, he struggled to reach 90 after that, prompting a decision to go to college. He graduated from University at Buffalo and served as interim coach for a season during the 1980s while his boss was on sick leave.
"It's been a good run," Scarcella said, "a lot of fun."
At Williamsville North, Scarcella had the opportunity to coach some phenomenal athletes – including recent New York Yankees draft pick Kyle Zurak, who attended Radford after graduating from North in 2013; former Buffalo Bill and current New England Patriot Glenn Gronkowski and 2017 Coaches All-Western New York co-Player of the Year Josh Surowiec.
"I really never kept track of my record," said Scarcella, adding he knows they won more than they lost at North. "I've always been focused on developing atheltes with good work habits and excellent character. Those kids usually succced at anything they do.
"Just great kids here at Williamsville North, just super kids, super athletes. I'm just really fortunate to be able to work with these kids."
One of the kids he coached, 2007 North graduate and current district teacher Max Zimmerman, will take over the Spartans. While the program will be in good hands, Scarcella will still be missed.
"Jerry had a great relationship with the kids," said Steve Ferenczy, North's athletic director. "His knowledge of baseball has been invaluable to our school and school district. He's well-respected throughout the community. He's just a good man and has always done right by the kids."