Leo David Mazzone (born October 16, 1948 in Keyser, West Virginia) is a former pitcher in minor league baseball and coach in Major League Baseball. He began working with the Atlanta Braves' organization in 1979.
Although Mazzone was born in West Virginia, his family lived on the other side of the Potomac River's north branch in Luke, Maryland. Growing up there, one of his friends was Sam Perlozzo of nearby Cumberland, under whom Mazzone would eventually coach for the Baltimore Orioles. Mazzone was even the best man at Perlozzo's wedding.
Mazzone made his professional debut in 1967 with the Medford Giants, a class-A farm team of the San Francisco Giants. In all, he played seven seasons in the Giants organization, reaching as high as the double-A Amarillo Giants, for whom he played four seasons from 1970-1973. He played the next three seasons in the Oakland Athletics chain, reaching triple-A with the Tucson Toros in 1975. In 1976, he was a player-manager for the class-A Corpus Christi Seagulls. He became their full-time manager the following season.
Mazzone was the hot tempered manager for the Carolina League Kinston Eagles in 1978. It was the recommendation and contacts of Eagles owner Ray Kuhlman that proved instrumental in Atlanta deciding to take a chance on Mazzone in 1979.
Mazzone has earned a reputation as one of the best pitching coaches in the modern era, having developed and coached perennial all-star pitchers such as Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. Greg Maddux also enjoyed his best seasons under Mazzone. Over the years, a number of pitchers joined the Braves and enjoyed some of their finest seasons under Mazzone only to regress after leaving. Denny Neagle, John Burkett, Russ Ortiz and Jaret Wright are some of the most notable examples.
Mazzone's "accidental trademark" is his rocking back and forth while sitting in the dugout. On television broadcasts of Braves games, the camera would often show him rocking back and forth during the games, stopping only when his pitchers began to have difficulties. Mazzone's pitching philosophies state that pitchers should throw more between starts (two sessions instead of one), utilize the outside corner of the strike zone and utilize a fastball to set up breaking balls.
After the 2005 season Leo Mazzone took the Baltimore Orioles pitching coach job. On October 12, 2007 the Orioles fired Mazzone with one year left on his contract.
He was inducted in the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.
In his book The Baseball Economist, J.C. Bradbury titles a chapter, "How Good is Leo Mazzone?" Using statistical analysis, he analyzes whether Mazzone had a significant impact upon the pitchers that he coached. The sample is all pitchers who have pitched at least one year under Mazzone and one year under a different pitching coach. Bradbury found that Mazzone lowered the ERA of pitchers by an average of 0.64 points, and that after leaving Mazzone, pitchers' ERA increased by an average of 0.78 points. Bradbury believes that such an impact is deserving of Hall of Fame consideration.
- "Orioles Fire Pitching Coach Leo Mazzone"
- [Bradbury, J. C. The Baseball Economist]
- E-Ticket: "The Rock of Atlanta"
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- E-Ticket: "The Rock of Atlanta"
Bruce Dal Canton
|Atlanta Braves pitching coach
|Baltimore Orioles pitching coach