Lyndhurst baseball camp gives Rizzo brothers a chance to shine

Nicholas Rizzo is just seven years old, but the Lyndhurst resident is far more mature, beyond his years.

Nicholas is only a second grader at Lyndhurst’s Columbus School, but he’s a baseball player, through and through.

“Sometimes I play left field and sometimes I play shortstop,” Rizzo said. “Baseball is one of my favorite sports. I like baseball because I learn a lot more. Before I came here, I didn’t know much.”

Nicholas’ older brother, 10-year-old Michael, is nearby.

“I’m a catcher, third baseman, man, I can play anywhere,” Michael Rizzo said. “Whatever my manager says, that’s where I play. But I have a lot of fun.”

So does the third Rizzo brother, Joe. He’s in the middle. He’s eight years old.

“I’m a third baseman or centerfielder,” Joe Rizzo said. “It’s really a lot of fun.”

The three Rizzo brothers had a blast last week, when they participated in the Lyndhurst Golden Bears Baseball Academy at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex.

All three Rizzo brothers said they learned something different at the week-long camp, organized by Lyndhurst High School head coach Patrick Auteri.

Joe Rizzo said that he learned how to handle the bat better.

“When you hold the bat, you should hold it with your fingers and not the palms of your hands,” Joe Rizzo said. “I’m glad I’m here. If I wasn’t here, I’d be in the pool or sitting around the house on the couch with my IPad. This is much better than being boxed in.”

Michael Rizzo said he learned how to catch properly.

“I learned how to pick it,” Michael Rizzo said. “It makes me want to play baseball more. In fact, it made me wanted to play baseball all the time. My Dad encourages me to play.”

Nicholas Rizzo learned some mental aspects to the game.

“I learned how to be confident,” Nicholas Rizzo said. “I also learned to never give up.”

Needless to say, the Rizzo brothers got a lot of bang for their parents’ buck.

But they weren’t alone.

“I learned a lot here,” said 12-year-old Vinnie Auteri, whose uncle is the head coach. “I learned the block step, which is basically a crossover step when you throw. It really helps a lot.”

Auteri was asked what it was like to be coached by his uncle and his coaching staff.

“My uncle is always good with me,” Vinnie Auteri said. “Coach Bubba (Jasinski) is a little tough on us, but I’m learning. It’s awesome. I’m having a lot of fun.”

The younger Auteri is entering the seventh grade at Roosevelt School in Lyndhurst, so he has two years before he gets to hear the wrath of his uncle full blast.

Auteri is also a member of the Lyndhurst Little League All-Star team, where he is playing shortstop and second base.

Anthony DeMarco is another camper with a famous last name in Lyndhurst. He’s the 13-year-old younger brother of Matthew DeMarco, the recent Lyndhurst High graduate and three-sport standout.

“I’ve had a lot of fun here,” said the younger DeMarco, who will be attending eighth grade classes at the Middle School come the fall. “I think I’ve improved in every aspect of the game, even the mental aspect. I’ve worked on my base running, my hitting.”

Anthony DeMarco has spent his summer months playing for the Lyndhurst Babe Ruth All-Stars, playing third base and shortstop.

“I’d probably be lying by the pool,” DeMarco said. “Maybe I’d be sleeping or fighting with my brother. So I’m glad we have this.”

The older DeMarco is headed to Montclair State to play football next month. He served as a camp counselor.

“This was fun, learning from new coaches, coaches that I hope to play for,” Anthony DeMarco said. “It gets me ready for high school.”

Coach Auteri loved working with the younger pupils. Auteri’s camp featured approximately 70 youngsters.

“The kids are loving it,” Auteri said. “I think Lyndhurst is a baseball town and we love the game. When push comes to shove, the kids love to learn the game. The parents love it. Some of my current players got their start here. I love doing it. I love every minute of it. It’s a great week for us. It keeps getting bigger and we want to keep it rolling.”

The learning process is easy.

“We keep the terminology simple,” Auteri said. “The kids then understand what we’re trying to say and that really helps. The kids get familiar with me and my staff and for the most part, instruction becomes part of memory.”

As does having fun.

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”