An interview with Above All Landscaping/EVO9X/Miken’s Tom Paturzo!
Interview conducted on 1/4/2016
Who are you playing with in 2016?
I will be a member of the Above All Landscaping/EVO9X/Miken Softball team.
What positions do you play and what is your best position?
I will be manning the home plate dish and occasionally strolling in the OF if needed. I have always been a corner Outfielder over the years but lately behind the dish hasn't been a bad place to call home.
Who is the best softball player you have ever seen play?
There have been so many great players that I have had the pleasure to compete with and against for many years. He might not have been the best player in the country but he was the best for our championship ABS Teams and that was Jimmy Devine. He brought a personality and competitive nature to a very age diverse team.
Why do you like the game of softball?
I have been playing competitive softball for a pretty long time and have come across some of the nicest gentlemen involved with the game. I like the competitiveness, the meaningful games, and I especially like the comradery with teammates.
Who is the best up and coming player in softball and why?
I can only respond to this question with a player I have seen from the beginning and that's Ryan Parfitt. I am amazed, yet not surprised, how fast he has become an impact player. He has become such a talent in the league and should be there for a long time for sure.
What is your nickname in softball and how did you get it?
Well most just call me "Turz" but the select former teammates might just use "Angry Dragon" In my younger years I may have played the game with a little too much intensity which caused me to receive that name. I believe it was Mike Dill that started it many moons ago.
What is your height and weight?
I am 6'0" and 240 lbs.
Where do you call home?
I live in Manchester, NJ, approximately 10 minutes from the Jersey Shore (Seaside Heights).
What's your favorite way to spend an off weekend?
During my off weekends I am usually spending my days at my two older children's athletic events, playing golf, or hanging on the beach.
What do you do for a living?
I am currently in my 20th year as a Special Education teacher at a local High School in NJ. I coach both Girl's Basketball and Baseball as well.
Did you play sports in High School / College / Pro?
I was an avid Basketball and Baseball player growing up. I participated in both sports in College before a knee injury ended that.
How did you get your start in softball and how did you get to the upper level?
I started playing Tourney Softball locally when I was 17 years old in between HS baseball games. I just gradually kept playing on better and better teams whenever I could. Eventually lucky enough to win some Worlds with some great players.
What was the most surprising difference between Conference play and non-Conference play when you made the jump?
In my opinion, without a doubt how well pitchers manage the games and how well the defensive play is. I love it when I hear players/fans say hitting/fielding/ or pitching is so easy when they have no idea how good some of these players are. Watching how good some of these guys are is amazing.
Is there a player that you would compare your game to?
I wouldn't say my game is like any certain player. I just try to play the game as hard as I can and hopefully things work out. There isn't any person harder on themselves than I am throughout a season.
What would you say is your career highlight to this point? Maybe one play or game that sticks out to you in particular?
I do not have any particular play or highlight I recall, probably because at my age I can't remember anymore. Winning with my team is what I remember always and shoot for yearly.
In your career was there a single person (player/manager/coach) who had the most significant impact on your approach to the game? Why?
I have played with some really great players over the years but one teammate of mine that just played Balls to Wall at all the times was Jack Bowker. I use to be at awe at what this guy could do and at his prime I would have put him right up there with the best.
What advice can you give a young player trying to break into the upper level?
There are so many great young players out there that just need a shot and that's the hardest part I feel. Getting that shot on a team that may compete on the higher level is very important just to be seen. Sandbagging on a lower level team just isn't going to get the recognition IMO.
Another piece of advice I would give a younger player, which is hard to come by nowadays, is to be appreciative of all the sponsors. I try to find the time after each event to thank my sponsors because they are allowing grown men to satisfy their competitive nature. I have had some great sponsors over the years that have been so good to me and my family. Some of those guys were Jerry Riporti, Gus Guida, Jimmy Doggs, Bill Wallace, Sammy Rocabaldo, and presently Joe Benanti. Not only class acts but just nice guys.
What type of batting grip do you use and what ounce bat?
I guess It would be a conventional grip with my left pinky off a little bit.
What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the next softball season?
During the winter I am so involved with HS basketball that it takes most of my time up. I def hit the gym and batting cages as much as I can and really go at it hard come end of Feb / March.
What is your favorite sports team and your favorite sport other than softball?
My favorite sports teams are the "STEEL CURTAIN", NY Rangers, NY Yankees, and College Basketball's UNC Tarheels . I like to play golf and attempt to take Joe Benanti's money any chance I can.
Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?
Not so much although the fear of softball pants being too short has come to play lately.
What would be your "at bat" music selection?
"Master of Puppets" – (Metallica)
"White Lines" – Grandmaster Flash
What is the best improvement upper level softball could make?
Although I think the Upper Level Conference is great and competing against the best competition weekly is outstanding it still needs to have more parity. If there was a way to spread the top players out amongst many teams It would create a more balanced Conference. I know it is not possible but just wishful thinking. I also think the continuous dropping of teams is ridiculous like last years A to B teams so late. Finish on your level and the following year you can possibly drop. All teams that qualify in the top PCT during worlds should have to move up no matter or their players should have to for at least a year.
What is your favorite non-World tournament and why?
Some of the other enjoyable tourneys for me is always the Smoky's of course, could never actually win it, but the big crowd is great. The Dudley, the PIF, and the Last Chance are always fun. Anytime you can get a large crowd, booze, and some softball than your naturally going have a good time.
What is the best softball field/complex you have played at and why?
Playing in Disney has always been great but playing in Oklahoma at the Hall of Fame trumps that. They take care of the field so well and really seem to care about the players much more. Dressing up all the fields as soon as your done is great.
Where is the best place to eat on the road after a game?
When I am in Florida I always like to go to Charley's Steakhouse for a solid meal. For a quick bite, the Southern boys have me going to Chick Fil A way too much.
What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a softball field?
While playing with ABS Softball Frank Viggiani proceeded to coach 3b with his Jewels hanging out of his shorts. The funniest aspect was watching the players and umpires double take their glance over. Nobody said anything I guess in fear of being caught staring.
Tell us something about you that most would never know about you?
Two things that some people may not know about me is that I really like to write articles. The last few years I started up a softball website in hopes to improve the interest in the game in NJ.. Following the Upper level idea, I created a Vets v Futures game in NJ, a State All Star game, and wrote informational articles on present and former participants in Men's Softball. The second thing people may not know about me but should is that I am much funnier than Clint Murray.
What was your favorite sports related gift you have ever given or received?
There have been quite a few individual awards that I was lucky enough to receive over the years but there is nothing like being part of a World Championship with players/Coaches/ and Sponsors that have never won it before. Winning the 2014 Worlds with Deluxe Bakery players and especially the sponsor Sammy Rocabaldo was very special. Making the great runs with ABS Softball were very memorable as well.