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calling_the_hogs Offline
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Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Friday, July 05, 2002
Pagnozzi OK being in the red
FAYETTEVILLE -- Some people may have trouble with Tom Pagnozzi's arithmetic, but it all adds up for him.

Pagnozzi, a former St. Louis Cardinals catcher and Arkansas Razorback, has accepted a position as a volunteer assistant coach with the Arkansas baseball team. The move won't earn him any money, but it will give him a chance to coach at a school that he loves.

"I'm doing this because I want to coach and I want to teach," said Pagnozzi, who is in town this week coaching a Connie Mack team at the Razorback Wood Bat Tournament. "If I didn't want to do it, I wouldn't be moving from Phoenix. This is going to cost me a lot to do it. I'm going to have to buy a new house.

"When I turned down a big contract when I was a free agent to stay somewhere, one of the reporters in St. Louis said that they knew I had a math problem. When they heard I was going to come down here, they asked me the same question. 'This is going to cost you more money. What don't you understand?' "

Maybe they don't understand.

In 1983, Arkansas Coach Norm DeBriyn took Pagnozzi, a junior college third baseman, and turned him into a catcher.

That move paid off handsomely. Pagnozzi was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth round after that junior season, and he spent 12 years with the St. Louis Cardinals before an arm injury forced him to retire.

He was an All-Star in 1992 and part of the 1987 team that made it to the World Series before the injury ended his career in 1999, when he was released by St. Louis.

Pagnozzi, 40, spent four years enjoying retirement, but began to miss the game, so he started coaching the Legacy Baseball summer team, which is made up of players from the Phoenix area.

"Coach DeBriyn talked to me a couple of years ago about college baseball," Pagnozzi said. "He put the bug in my ear, but I was happily retired."

Little did Pagnozzi know that DeBriyn's retirement would lead to his return to Fayetteville.

When DeBriyn retired June 11, Pagnozzi was among the names mentioned as a possible replacement. The job eventually went to Dave Van Horn, a former Razorbacks assistant who had built a thriving program at Nebraska, but the new coach offered Pagnozzi a chance to return to Arkansas as well as a volunteer coach.

Pagnozzi jumped at the offer.

"After four years, I'm really looking forward to getting back to work," he said. "Four years off, 40 pounds heavier, I'm starting to get bored."

Now, Pagnozzi gets the chance to help out the program that helped him so much as a player.

"I'm going to be working primarily with the catchers," Pagnozzi said. "I will help with infielders, really everything, but my main role is going to be with the catchers."

In the process, he hopes to help himself as well.

"My reason for coming here is to learn everything and learn from one of the best in Dave Van Horn, and eventually someday get my own program," Pagnozzi said. "I love the teaching aspect."
07-05-2002 05:56 PM
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