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Former Team Italy pitcher Jason Grilli inducted into Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame

As an integral member of the Team Italy pitching staff in three World Baseball Classics (2006, 2009, and 2013), Jason Grilli was known for his fighting Azzurri spirit every time he took the ball on the mound. He made his Team Italy pitching debut on March 7, 2006 in the 10-0 shutout over Australia at the inaugural World Baseball Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. With National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza behind the plate, starting pitcher Jason Grilli picked up the win after allowing just one hit with 7 strikeouts in his 4.2 innings of work.    

Over a decade earlier, teenager Jason Grilli was making a name for himself in Central New York. The proud Italian American hurler made quite an impression on the local sports community shortly before graduating from C. W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville during the 1994 area sectional playoff game between C.W. Baker High School and Liverpool High School. In what is considered to be the greatest high school baseball game in Central New York history, future Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Jason Grilli threw a complete-game 1-0 shutout, which ended in a walk-off suicide squeeze and an ensuing bench-clearing brawl.

Jason Grilli moved to Baldwinsville, N.Y. when his father Steve Grilli pitched for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. A member of the Chiefs’ Wall of Fame, former MLB veteran Steve Grilli provides color commentary for the Syracuse radio broadcasts. Following in his father’s footsteps playing baseball professionally, Jason Grilli was a 24th-round selection by the New York Yankees in the 1994 MLB draft out of high school, but he opted to attend Seton Hall University for three years before being a 1st-round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 1997. However, both father and son’s imprint on Central New York sports is still felt today.

Jason Grilli was honored and recognized for his invaluable contributions by being inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame in New York during the 33rd Annual Dinner and Induction Ceremony in front of over 600 attendees at the Oncenter on October 28, 2019. Now among the 247 Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame inductees, Jason Grilli joins fellow Italian American baseball hall of famers Armond Magnarelli (2004), Frank DiPino (2000), Luke LaPorta (1991), Anthony Simone (1991), and Dave Giusti (1989). Jason Grilli said, “It’s always good to come back to your roots and hometown and to be honored. I am very humbled by that to be selected and to be among the great athletes of Central New York.”

Father and son, Steve and Jason Grilli, made a TV appearance on ABC 9 Bridge Street prior to attending the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame Dinner. The dynamic duo are slated to make another Central New York appearance on Friday, October 1, 2019 when they serve as New York State Baseball Convention keynote speakers at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.

Steve and Jason Grill kicked off 2019 together in Italy where they spoke at the Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) CON3 Coaches Convention in Riccione. Steve and Jason Grill spoke emotionally about the life of an Italian American baseball family — from Steve’s proudest moments as a father to Jason’s long road to rehabilitation after Tommy John surgery. Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti