For the love of the game
October 25, 2011
When Kenosha Kings manager Tim Pulizzano looks back on the summers of his youth, most of the memories revolve around baseball.
HIS TIME: LOVE OF THE GAME BY ANDY HORSCHAK
Baseball is family for this coach and former player.
When Tim Pulizzano looks back on the summers of his youth, most of the memories revolve around baseball.
“We played every single day,” Pulizzano recalled. “There was a group of us. Heck, we even kept stats back then. I remember batting .768 when I was 9 years old at Schmalfeldt Park in Silver Lake.”
When he wasn’t playing, he had his eyes glued to the television.
“I was a Cubs fan growing up,” Pulizzano said. “I’d watch ‘Leadoff Man’ at 1:20 p.m. every day on WGN. That’s how I grew up. That’s all we did.”
Crediting his grandparents, Philip and Ruth Pulizzano, for getting him hooked on the national pastime, impressionable Tim was a fan of Leon Durham and Keith Moreland, but he saved his biggest cheers for Shawon Dunston.
“I’m a typical big left-handed pitcher who wants to play short-stop,” he said with a chuckle.
Like most kids, Pulizzano had major league dreams.
”That’s all I ever wanted to do was play and coach,” he said.
After graduating from Wilmot High School in 1994, the three-sport athlete attended nearby Carthage College and quickly became one of the top pitchers for the NCAA Division III power house baseball program. In the school’s all-time record hook, the crafty lefty still ranks third in wins (23), fourth in shutouts (4), seventh in ERA (2.56) and strikeouts (172) and ninth in innings pitched (200 1/3).
Just like in high school when he offered tutelage to area little leaguers, Pulizzano usually was coaching when he wasn’t playing.
As a 19-year-old in the summer of 1996, Pulizzano got his first taste as a head coach when he took over the Genoa City Legion baseball team.
“I couldn’t even get the rental vans for our one trip to Appleton,” he said. “You had to be 25. The kids’ parents had to help out there.”
After wrapping up his collegiate career, a three-year professional stint followed with the now-defunct Cook County Cheetahs of the independent Frontier League.
For two of those three years, he served as the head coach at Burlington Catholic Central, which played a spring schedule. In his first season as a 22-year-old, he guided the Hilltoppers to a Wisconsin Independent Schools Athletic Association state championship.
Once his career with the Cheetahs came to an end, Pulizzano hooked up with the Kenosha Kings and was an immediate dominating mound presence. Shortly thereafter, he assumed the managerial duties and recently finished his 10th season with the club, which has become one of the elite semi-pro baseball organizations in the Midwest.
Longtime Kings player Rob Novotny started a Kings collegiate team in 2000, and the success of the organization skyrocketed once the teams were combined and college players joined the veterans.
Members of both the Wisconsin State League and the Langsdorf League, the Kings have won six championships in the last six years.
”I’ve had the same core group of guys for six or seven years now,” the 35-year-old Pulizzano said. “I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s something I do. Maybe it’s the personality. Maybe it’s the Kings. These guys don’t want to leave. To be honest, I don’t know what I’d do without most of them if I didn’t have them.”
Employed as a senior training manager for AT&T, Pulizzano lives in West Allis, works in Pewaukee and makes countless trips to Kenosha during the baseball season. Also, throw into the mix that Angela, his girlfriend of 4 1/2 years, lives in Ohio and the two have managed to see each other at least every other week during that span.
“I travel all the time – about six months a year – all over the country,” he said. “I try to work things out with my boss. There’s a lot of organizing that goes on in my life to make everything work.”
“My typical day starts with getting up at 5:15 in the morning and driving to Pewaukee,” he said. “After working from 6:30 to 4:30, I get in the car and drive to Kenosha. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years during the summer.”
The unpaid, time-consuming commitment to the Kings is obviously a draining one.
So, why does he do it?
“I guess I’m probably just a baseball junkie at heart,” he said after a pause. “I’m one of those guys who can’t sit still. I have a small family, so baseball has always been my family.”
Story by: Andy Horschak (HE Magazine)
Photo(s) by: Sean Krajacic (HE Magazine)
This article will appear in the October/November 2011 issue of HE Magazine.
The Wisconsin State League is one of the premier semi-professional/amateur baseball leagues in the mid-west. In operation since 1970, the Wisconsin State League is a highly competitive league that features many of the midwest's top current and former collegiate athletes, as well as many former professional baseball players. Keep up to date on everything happening in the Wisconsin State League by following the league online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
WisconsinStateLeague.com | #WSL