GREENWICH, Conn. ‒ When it comes to swinging a bat, L.J. Mazzilli of Greenwich is a natural. The soft-spoken son of major league player and coach Lee Mazzilli has been looking for a challenge at the plate his whole life.
“I remember playing on a Little League team in New York where nobody knew me. I was 9 and faked my birth certificate,” Mazzilli said. He loved the challenge of competing against older kids.
If a player breaks .300 at the plate, few deny that he's had a good year. Last year, Mazzilli hit .338 in a team high 275 times at bat. That's after recovering from an injury that kept him out the first part of the season.
This year, he's coming in rested, healed and ready to swing. He's as confident in his team as he is in himself. “We're going to put New England college baseball on the map,” he said.
Mazzilli was named to the All Big East Second Team and selected an NEIBA Second Team All-Star and an alternate on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. The Fairfield County Sports Commission named him 2011 Greenwich Sports Person of the Year. “Team USA really helped me get my name out there, and playing second-base really helped build my confidence,” said Mazzilli.
The elder Mazzilli started his Major League career in 1976 as a New York Met. By 1989, he had played for the Pirates, Yankees, Blue Jays and Rangers. L.J. watched his away games on television and waited for his dad to come home and toss the ball around. Later, the son would insist that people call him L.J. instead of Lee Mazzilli Jr. because he wanted to make his own name on the field.
As long as he legitimately earns the right, the younger Mazzilli wouldn't mind following in his father's footsteps, though. “I just want to play in the major leagues,” he said. “If I could play for my dad's team [the Mets], that would be a story to tell.”