Fazio blossomed into baseball standout

Monday October 19, 2009  Watertown Daily Times

Don Fazio joins his brother Frank Fazio as one of the top 100 north country's greatest athletes. Fazio, like his brother, was an all-around athlete in high school and college. He had a successful nine-year career in professional baseball.

In high school, Fazio played football, basketball and baseball. He was captain in all three sports as a senior. In 1960, Fazio won the prestigious William I. Graf Award as the outstanding senior athlete in his graduating class at Watertown High School.

It was in baseball that Fazio made his mark. Following a Section 3 baseball game, Fazio was offered a professional contract by the New York Yankees. He opted to attend Ithaca College where he starred in soccer, basketball and baseball.

As in high school, Fazio was a team leader at Ithaca. He was co-captain in all three sportsas a senior at Ithaca College.

It was in baseball that Fazio won several honors while at Ithaca. At the time Fazio was attending the college, the school boasted a Division I program. He was named to the New York State All-American team as a senior. He was selected to the All-District Division I team and was an honorable mention All-American.

As a sophomore at Ithaca, Fazio's team made the postseason tournament beating Missouri, but losing to Florida State.

In the Florida State game, Fazio accounted for all of Ithaca's runs with a grand slam. Ithaca had an enrollment of approximately 1,500 students at that time and had the distinction of the being the smallest school to compete in the Division I World Series. Years later after Fazio had graduated, the college dropped down to Division III in baseball.

In 1960, Fazio signed a professional baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox. He played four years in the International League with franchises in Rochester and Louisville, Ky. While a professional player, Fazio was on three pennant-winning teams. He was also was a member of the winning Triple A World Series team that won the Governor's Cup.

Fazio played third base, shortstop and second base as a professional. In 1969, Fazio was named the best fielder in minor league baseball. He played most of his professional career as a second baseman.

When Fazio retired from professional baseball he was honored by the Rochester Red Wings and the fans with Don Fazio Day at the stadium. In 1972, Fazio was named to the Ithaca College Hall of Fame.

Following his professional baseball career, Fazio turned to softball where he was a player-manager for many years. He was voted the MVP of the league he participated in following the 1980 season. He was involved with softball in the Rochester area until retiring in 2008.

In 1987, Fazio, who lives in Rush with his wife Diane, was inducted into the Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame. A brick has his name on it at Rochester's stadium. He was also inducted into the Italian-America Club in Rochester.

From 1971 until retiring in 1999, Fazio was a physical education instructor and coach at Rush-Henrietta School District.