CLARK, NJ - Passionate about the game of baseball from his Little League days through college, Clark resident Greg Randazza will be inducted into the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday, at the Union County Baseball Association’s 81st Annual Hot Stove League Awards Dinner.
“I was excited, very excited,” Randazza said. “We put a lot of hard work and effort in high school in all four years and it definitely paid off. I was kind of shocked at first, but I was delighted to find out I will be entering the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame.”
A pitcher, Randazza started his career, as many young players do, at the age of six or seven in the Little League program. His love of the game grew, and he excelled as he progressed through high school and college.
Highly competitive, Randazza said it was that competitiveness that drove him to work hard at the game, at practices, and in the pre- and off-seasons.
“I was always working out in baseball because I was always kind of a one-sport athlete,” Randazza said. “I would work out and as far as arm strength goes, I just always wanted to be better. Being competitive by nature drives you to get better.”
He started out at Roselle Catholic High School from 1984-1985, before going to Elizabeth High School for his junior and senior years. He fondly recalls his junior year, when Elizabeth won the 1986 state championship, defeating Shawnee High School.
In his senior year, he made the First-Team County and All-State teams.
“It was a long time ago, but there was one game in particular I just envisioned in my mind a picture of his jersey with his name on the back of it,” Clark resident Joe DiProfio said. DiProfio played against Randazza in high school.
“On the mound, he was a killer,” DiProfio said. "That’s what he was.”
As his high school playing days ended, Randazza was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1987 in the 28th round.
“Back then, it [the draft] was with high schoolers ranked tenth in the country,” Randazza explained. “We were first in the state, so we were well on a radar map as far as USA Today is concerned. We had college coaches come and see us play; some Major League Baseball scouts would watch the county finals and the state finals.”
He chose to continue his career playing at the collegiate level. He attended Auburn University from 1987-1988, where he played alongside former MLB player Frank Thomas. He transferred to Seton Hall University to play out the 1989-1990 seasons. While at Seton Hall, he played with former MLB first-basemen Mo Vaughn.
Randazza credits Elizabeth High School coach Ray Korn with having a tremendous impact on his baseball career.
"He brought the playing field to the next level," Randazza said. "He always had his teams prepared and was well-known on a national level." Randazza was one of three Elizabeth High School players drafted his senior year.
His family members also had an impact on his success on the field. His father supported him during his early playing days. In high school, it was his girlfriend – now his wife – Maria, who cheered from the stands.
“It’s nice to see him have the honor,” Maria said of Sunday’s Hall of Fame induction. “I was very surprised and very proud. It’s nice having him there with Gianna; it’s very nice.”
Randazza’s daughter, Gianna, is an Arthur L. Johnson High School senior and a standout pitcher on the school’s softball team. She will be standing beside her father at the dinner on Sunday, not just in support of him, but collecting her own recognition as well.
Gianna Randazza will be honored as the Union County Baseball Association’s Outstanding High School Softball Player.
“I am really happy for him and really proud of him because he’s always encouraged me in my whole life to play softball and to be my best,” Gianna said. “I’m happy to see him get the recognition he deserves.”
Greg Randazza sees his own competitive spirit in his daughters. Gianna will continue her softball career at Division 1 Boston College in the fall. Nicole is a freshman at Arthur L. Johnson.
Randazza served as president and board member of the Clark Girls Softball recreation program for 12 years. He also spends time at the Brewer softball fields, keeping them in good condition.
“My wife, Sue, and I have had the opportunity to work with Greg and Maria Randazza in support of youth athletics over the last ten years and can say that their passion to give back is not easily found in today’s society,” Clark resident Jim Brogan said. “I am thankful for the time we have and continue to spend helping young athletes improve their fast-pitch softball skills, but more importantly, we are grateful for the great friendship that we have formed over the years.”
Although his playing days came to an end after college, Randazza said baseball is a vital part of his life; one that taught him great discipline and a great work ethic.
“As I look at my two daughters playing now, the dream still continues,” Greg Randazza said. “It's something that I look forward to every day.”
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